A Phenomenological Study of Urban Middle School Counselors and Directors of Guidance and Counseling: Collaborating to Understand Counselor Stress and Prevent Burnout
School of Education
Doctor of Education (EdD)
burnout, counselor, leadership, school, stress, urban
Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services
Hurt, Janice, "A Phenomenological Study of Urban Middle School Counselors and Directors of Guidance and Counseling: Collaborating to Understand Counselor Stress and Prevent Burnout" (2014). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 945.
The purpose of the phenomenological study was to understand stress and burnout among urban middle school counselors from selected urban schools in varying regions of Texas. Using a qualitative phenomenological design, nine MSCs who had experienced some degree of the phenomenon were selected based upon results obtained from a preliminary demographic survey and Counselor Burnout Inventory; five Directors of Guidance and Counseling were selected from neighboring urban cities, based upon their proximity to the selected middle school counselors. The researcher sought to answer four broad questions: (1) What are the perceptions of both school counselors and Directors of Guidance and Counseling as to causes of stress and burnout in middle school counselors? (2) How do middle school counselors and Directors of Guidance and Counseling describe organizational factors and resources in place to improve stress management and prevent burnout? (3) How do Directors of Guidance and Counseling and middle school counselors describe their personal contributions to middle school counselor stress management and burnout prevention? And (4) How do middle school counselors describe their experiences related to burnout? Data was collected utilizing face to face interviews, online focus groups, counselor logs, and lists of professional development provided. The data revealed that work overload, competing priorities, role confusion, lack of support, and inability to see students contributed to counselor stress, while having defined organizational processes, a good support system and a sense of humor helped alleviate stress. An unexpected finding was that constant, unpredictable, chaotic, stressful days greatly contributed to the stress and burnout of the middle school counselor. Limitations of the study and implications for future studies were discussed.