Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Ron Morgan

Committee Members

Philip Mirci

Ron Williams


psychology; crisis response; critical incident; post tramatic stress syndrome; school counseling; school violence; trauma


Counseling Psychology | Educational Leadership


Purpose. California State Policy indicates that K-12 school counselors will respond to social justice related issues such as racial conflict, social unrest, school violence, gang activity, antisocial behavior, and potential suicides. This directive assumes that school counselors have crisis response training as a standard in their education. The purpose of this study was to determine if a gap exists between policy expectations and counselor preparedness, to determine if counselors are anxious about their anticipated response, and to determine if additional crisis response training is needed. Issues of response to terrorism and natural disaster were added to the study because of increased exposure in the United States since the time of policy development.

Methodology. A forty-three question descriptive survey was distributed to all active e-mail addresses of school counselors in a single Southern California county. One hundred and one counselors completed the survey. Likert scales were used to measure levels of anxiety in relation to counselor anticipated crisis response. Pearson Chi, Probability and Probit Regressions were utilized to demonstrate significance between variables such as crisis plan rehearsals, anxiety response, incident exposure, counselor participation in crisis plan development and counselor awareness of state policy directives.

Findings. Statistical analysis demonstrated significant relationships between schools having a plan for crisis response and counselor anxiety about crisis response preparedness. When schools did not have a plan in policy related issues, the counselors demonstrated high levels of anxiety. The survey results also indicated significant gaps in crisis response training taken by school counselors and the desire for more training in social justice related policy issues.

Conclusions and Recommendations. This study found a number of issues of concern. Primarily, those issues included the demonstrated existence of social justice related issues on school campuses, the inconsistent preparation of school counselors to policy related school-wide crisis, the need for consistent and comprehensive training in crisis response, the presence of significant crisis response anxiety levels among school counselors working in the county, counselor liability concerns, and the desire to provide a quality, caring, and professional advocacy for students in crisis. Recommendations for change would include discussion with county Department of Education Leadership in reference to the implementation of successful crisis response training utilized in other areas of the country. In addition it is hoped this study will assist with an amendment to state policy to include terrorism and natural disaster as crucial crisis situations requiring a trained school counselor response.


ISBN: 9781124209289