Date of Award

Summer 8-3-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

JoAnna F. White, Ed.D

Second Advisor

Gregory L. Brack, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Catherine Y. Chang, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Barbara Meyers, Ed.D.

Abstract

Abstract The need for increased training in the area of trauma and crisis intervention has been the subject of discussion in the literature (Mathai, 2002) and in the creation of new training standards (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009). With an increasing number of challenges facing children today, school mental health professionals are positioned to be among the first to intervene on their behalf (Campbell & Dahir, 1997; Paisley & McMahon, 2002). In order for interventions to be successful, school mental health professionals must be able to recognize the signs of trauma (Canada, Heath, Money, Annadale, Fischer & Young, 2007), educate the important adults in children’s lives (Capuzzi & Gross, 2004) , and act in a holistic manner to accommodate the mental health needs of their students (Pederson & Carey, 2003). When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, approximately 200,000 students were forced to enroll in schools in other states (Department of Homeland Security, 2008). This study examined 12 school mental health professionals’ experiences with these evacuated students. Using Creswell’s (2007) phenomenological framework for understanding the school mental health professionals’ lived experiences, this study sought to illuminate issues related to training and supporting school mental health professionals so that they are equipped to support students in crisis. The results of this study fall under six themes: Systemic Factors in Perception of Job Efficacy, Culture and Community, Retelling of Story and Sequence, Role of the School Mental Health Professional in their work with Evacuated Students, Training and Preparation, and Lessons Learned. Implications for these themes are discussed.

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