School counselors are needed now more than ever. Providing Catholic school counselors the specialized formation they need to be effective in the Catholic school context is essential. This study addressed two research questions in this regard: (1) What competencies (e.g., understanding, incorporating) and topics do Catholic school principals and school counselors believe are important for school counselors to fully contribute to the educational and faith-based mission of Catholic schools; and (2) How might the research findings inform pre-service education and/or continuing education and formation of school counselors for the Catholic school context? Online surveys were developed using the “Defining Characteristics of Catholic Schools” from NSBECS and research-based, mission-centered competencies and topics. The surveys were sent to the 40 principals and 54 school counselors at the schools in one mid-size U.S. diocese that employ school counselors. The survey response rates were 87.5% for principals and 91% for school counselors. Findings confirmed high levels of support from both groups for school counselors understanding mission-related topics and incorporating these competencies into counseling practices and activities, although principals often rated the importance higher than did school counselors. Some between group differences were statistically significant on items such as the importance of incorporating Catholic teaching with current student and school issues. To reduce differences in perceptions, the authors recommend increased collaboration between principals and counselors to achieve unity of vision. Other recommendations to help school counselors contribute to mission include embedding mission-related topics or adding specialized courses to school counseling programs at Catholic universities, designing mission-centered professional development opportunities, and building networks of school counselors to support them in their complex and evolving role in support of Catholic school mission.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.