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  • July 09, 2021 10:42 PM | Keshia Ross-Williams (Administrator)

    A Blog Post entry by Christina Tillery

    Black School Counselors Matter

    I am a professional school counselor at a predominantly Black high school in Virginia. As a school counselor, I help students develop academically, emotionally, and socially. I deliver various services through individual consultations, group counseling, and classroom lessons. Unfortunately, the profession is still highly misunderstood. Historically, schools had guidance counselors. Those were educators whose sole purposes were graduation requirements and post-secondary planning. They had little interaction with students, families, and the community. Over time, our role and purposes have evolved into a more holistic approach - working with the whole child by providing social-emotional support and resources.

    YET, there are still school counselors who act as gatekeepers. Institutional power allows school counselors to determine which students have access to higher-level courses, programs, and college information. This is a power that I have to acknowledge, reconcile, and continue to be mindful of. There are too many accounts of school counselors pushing Black students and other students of color out of advanced courses or opportunities for higher education. Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared in Becoming (the book and documentary) that the college counselor at her high school stated that she was not "Princeton material" (Collman, 2019). (Imagine being that person.) When the Becoming documentary was released on Netflix, a Twitterstorm of people shared similar experiences involving school counselors. Honestly, it was hurtful to read the tweets. I love what I do, and to see people express disdain for counselors was upsetting. However, their experiences are valid, but it made me question what needs to change in the school counseling profession?

    School counselors cannot continue to be a part of the discriminatory practices that hinder Black and Brown students in schools. We must be fighting against it and bringing about change.

    This leads me to my main point:

    BLACK SCHOOL COUNSELORS MATTER!

    I became a school counselor simply because I love to help others. However, there are layers within that sentiment. School counseling is a method to interrupt and destroy systemic racism that is rampant in public schools. I am careful of my interactions with students and parents to ensure that I am providing them with the best information and service. When I don't know something, I find out and share. I refuse for the families I service to be left behind because they did not know or understand. Where someone may find a hopeless situation, I see potential. Every day I have the ability to help a young person reach their personal definition of success.

    I am not saying that white school counselors are not taking the same care with their students. I know that Black school counselors bring a unique perspective and insight into the field. For example, I WAS that lone Black student in the gifted program in a rural elementary school. I KNOW the feeling of having all eyes on you and performing better than everyone else to prove that you belong. Thankfully, I had a wonderful support system at home, but that is not the case for every child.

    According to DataUSA’s 2017 statistics, Black (Non-Hispanic) counselors only made up 19.4 % of the profession. This implies that students sit in offices with someone who does not have those shared experiences or may think less of their abilities to succeed due to bias. This cannot continue. Knowledgeable and qualified Black school counselors serve as mirrors and windows. Even though the mirrors-and-windows framework is typically used concerning curriculum, but it applies here (Style, n.d.). Black students deserve school counselors that can reflect their own experiences (mirror) and counselors that can provide thoughtful wisdom about non-shared experiences (windows).

    Furthermore, I believe that all students benefit from having Black school counselors. There isn't a lot of research on this sentiment. But I am certain that Black school counselors' effect is similar to the effect that Black teachers have on white students (Carver-Thomas, 2018).

    My top proposed solutions:

         Increased recruitment of Black students into Counselor Education programs

         Retention strategies for Black students in Counselor Education programs

         Increased full funding opportunities for Black students in Counselor Education programs

         Recruitment and retention strategies for Black school counselors by school districts

    Students deserve Black school counselors who are trained and committed to uprooting decades of systemic racism in schools. Black school counselors who lead with radical love, empathy, and a heart for justice. Black school counselors will equip Black students (and all students) with the necessary tools and encouragement to propel them to their next step. Black students will see their reflections and know that they will be more than what society has for them. Higher education must hold itself accountable in the recruitment and retention methods of Black graduate students. Furthermore, build partnerships with local school districts to assist placement after graduation. In 2021, we must move beyond book clubs and panel discussions to proactively evoke change. Our young students should not have to continue to undergo negligence, harmful practices, and racism due to our inability to boldly say and act on the notions that  Black school counselors matter, Black students matter, and Black lives matter. The time is here and we are the now.

    References

    Carver-Thomas, D. (2018, April 19). Diversifying the teaching profession: How to recruit and retain teachers of color. Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/diversifying-teaching-profession-report

    Collman, A. (2019, January 17). A college counselor told Michelle Obama she wasn't 'Princeton material' — but she applied to the Ivy League school anyway and got in. Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/michelle-obama-wasnt-princeton-material-college-counselor-told-her-2018-11

    DataUSA. (2018). Counselors. https://datausa.io/profile/soc/counselors#about

    Style, E. (n.d.). Curriculum As Window and Mirror. National Seed Project. https://nationalseedproject.org/Key-SEED-Texts/curriculum-as-window-and-mirror


  • June 21, 2021 9:51 PM | Esther McCartney (Administrator)

    As we wrap transition through our graduate academic year, Galaxina Wright, Graduate Student Representative (GSR), Shelby Gonzalez, Graduate Student Representative Designee (GSR-D), and Lauren Flynn, incoming GSR- D provide brief updates on what to expect for the remaining semester and upcoming 2021-2022 year. Click here for this brief update!

  • March 02, 2021 9:17 AM | Keshia Ross-Williams (Administrator)

    I had my “On-Campus” Tenure-Track Faculty Interview from my Bedroom         (Blog Post by, Justin Jordan)

    This was not what I envisioned when I started my doc program more than three years ago. When I began my studies, I was excited to hear stories from more senior doctoral students in our program about being flown to other states, staying in a nice hotel, and being taken to breakfast, lunch, and dinner with faculty as Universities courted them during their on-campus interviews. From Fall 2017 through 2019, friends traveled to Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, and places in between. I looked forward to this experience, as the most exciting interview I had been a part of to this point was my interview for the doc program, because it was ALL DAY! The idea that an employer would set aside time for two days and spend money to pay for travel and meals to see if I fit with their position sounded amazing.

    These mental images feel like a distant memory in 2021. Faculty interviews are merely one part of the “end-game” of my doctoral experience that I had looked forward to, but it certainly sounded like one of the fun parts (and maybe a little stressful). Now, I am just grateful that there are jobs available amidst the pandemic. With the financial uncertainty and strain on institutions to keep their programs moving in safe ways, while meeting licensing standards, I am more than grateful for every interview or even to see jobs posted that fit my expertise. In fact, I was able to visit one campus for an interview and it was odd to meet with staff from a distance, wear masks for two days, and decline an in-person dinner (which they completely supported and understood).

    All that said, this interview was different. Sure, it was nice to not have to leave my wife hanging with our two young children for multiple days while I traveled and to prep for the interview in the comfort of my home… but I can’t say I slept better at home with the little ones crawling into bed with us in the middle of the night. But there I was, wearing a suit, sitting at my desk in my bedroom, with my bed in the background, as I waited to be “let in” to the first virtual meeting of the two-day interview. For more than five hours, I was digitally shuffled from Web-ex, to Blackboard Collaborate, to Microsoft Teams rooms to meet with staff, search committee members, and give a presentation. This process repeated on day two, with a shorter time frame. All of this happened while I sat in the same chair, at the same desk that I have been seeing clients in, writing my dissertation in, and responding to many program related emails over the last eight months, since everything moved online due to COVID-19.

    Again, in some ways, I felt more comfortable being in my space, with my normal routine, and not be worrying about being away from my family. And I really feel like the search committee did an amazing job simulating the informal and formal aspects of being on campus. I think both the search committee and I would prefer that we were walking around campus, discussing the local area, and meeting in conference rooms, restaurants, and maybe even a coffee shop. It all seems so cushy for a counselor who spent seven years in a tiny office with no windows at a community agency serving uninsured or low-income clients, with my farthest work-related travel being two hours away.

    But I am grateful. Deeply grateful! I have the opportunity to interview for tenure-track clinical mental health counseling jobs because I am mere weeks from defending my dissertation. All of the travel, that I mostly paid for out of pocket, to conferences (including driving to SACES Conference in a hurricane in 2018), hours spent engaging my state counseling organization for weekend board meetings and division meetings, the hours of late-night homework after the kids went to bed, and the “extra” research work to develop those skills… all of it has led to this. And I feel ready for the next step, and I think that shined through in this interview, albeit through videoconferencing. If 2020 has taught me anything, it is to be flexible, grateful, and embrace that things look and feel different this year. I hope that 2021 brings relief from many struggles of this year and is the new beginning of my career as a counselor educator.

    Update: I was hired for a tenure track faculty position in Counselor Education at an institution that I consider a good fit. Finding a matching fit with an institution and department is important for long-term success and job satisfaction (Coaston, 2019). While I can only know so much about a location I've never been to or a campus I’ve never set foot on, the job expectations, teaching balance, positive interactions with department faculty, and location near two major cities were all factors that made this job feel right. And now, to prepare to defend my dissertation this week and move half-way across the country with my family. Again, I am grateful for this journey into my new career!

    References

    Coaston, S. C. (2019). The Happy Professor: Optimizing Faculty Fit in Counselor Education. The Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 12(1). Retrieved from https://repository.wcsu.edu/jcps/vol12/ iss1/6


  • December 14, 2020 2:20 PM | Esther McCartney (Administrator)

    As we wrap up the year, Galaxina Wright, Graduate Student Representative (GSR), and Shelby Gonzalez, Graduate Student Representative (GSR-Designee) provide brief updates on what to expect in the Spring semester. Click here for this brief update!

  • November 08, 2020 1:36 PM | Leo Balseiro (Administrator)


    The doctoral comprehensive exam is broadly interpreted as a rite of passage (Tinker & Jackson, 2004). In 2012, doctoral comprehensive exams were required in 94% of all counseling programs (Schweiger, Henderson, McCaskill, Clawson, & Collins, 2012), and varied in format; across the board, various forms of both traditional and non-traditional exam formats warrant the use of citations, can comprise of open and closed questions, and prompt written or oral tasks (Kostohryz, 2016; Schweiger et al, 2007). Unfortunately, available resources to prepare for success are somewhat limited, which largely explains how we might hear horror stories surrounding this rite of passage (Kostohryz, 2016; McAdams & Robertson, 2012). 

    With these critical ideas in mind, the purpose of this blog is to provide helpful ideas inspired by both the literature and conventional experience. These casual ideas may pose as helpful to consider when approaching the preparation process, and can be used at the readers discretion. 

    Build a Personal Foundation; Mission, Vision, and a Guiding Lens

    A requisite to building a foundation for studying for the doctoral comprehensive exam is familiarizing oneself with the structured format of the exam at-task. Parameters, such as available time in your schedule, your exam date, your prioritized objectives and content areas-of-growth, and level of study engagement, are vital to identify when creating a sound and cogent strategy. For instance, as a foundation to build objectives from vague expectations, CACREP’s doctoral standards provide a broad scope of content areas. Students may learn that their assessment is either time-sensitive or take-home. In addition, students may be expected to provide written, essay-form responses or oral arguments, and are prompted to “go beyond ‘parroting’” their answers from textbooks.

    As a conventional position of the author, a key foundation for strategy is solidified when the student embraces a guiding lens. A lens, perhaps the most advantageous, is Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom, Madaus, & Hastings, 1981). According to Kostohryz (2016), the highest priority for faculty referees is assessing cognitive complexity. Reflective of cognitive complexity, examinees should demonstrate both the ability to synthesize and integrate content sufficiently. The ability to compare, contrast, and critique information used on the exam should also be readily observed within the works of the examinee (Kostohryz, 2016). Comprehensive examinations, let alone doctoral counselor education programs, are created with Bloom's Taxonomy in mind as a facilitator for cognitive complexity (Granello, 2010). 

    With these ideas in mind, what do you envision when the referee reads your submission: Do you envision an exposure to cognitive complexity as a factor for success? Do you envision a demonstration of your aptitude to take what you’ve learned and utilize it at a higher level of complexity? Do you envision being able to do so with proper logic, fluidity, structure, or prose? Or do you just want to pass? The perspective of the author suggests that each vision implies a different mission, or a series of actions, to ensure the vision comes to fruition. This vision and mission should become your personalized, guiding motivation. 

    Read, Reflect, and Remember Articles, but Memorize Authors as Linchpins. 

    Revisit course content to reflect on key cornerstones of philosophy behind theories, models, and applications. As students may consider various angles of reflection, they should also consider how they are directing their reflections. The recommendation is for students to actively parallel their reflections of content alongside an intentional taxonomy of learning. Specifically, examinees should utilize their learnings with the processes identified by Bloom's Taxonomy (Bloom, 1956). For instance, when thinking about the use of phenomenology as a qualitative form of inquiry, you might think about what the philosophical foundations are (recall), how these foundations differ across methodological contexts (contrast), how specialized forms of phenomenology might both be similar and different from each other (compare), critique a specific application of phenomenological inquiry from an accessible study (analyze), or conceptualize your own phenomenological study based on a recent media event (synthesize). 

    You should also archive your learnings with an author of interest who is directly tied with broad content areas. Read and reflect on the works of the authors directly, rather than from the textbook, and be prepared to rote-memorize authors (e.x.Moustakas, 1994); this idea comes full circle when you’re able to recall the author citation during the exam, opening the door to revisit memorized information and recall content reflections at your disposal. 

    Prepare for a Dry-Run

    The overarching goal behind the dry-run should be to strengthen the ability to recall content from a self-authorized perspective. With this in mind, students should approach this strategy with a “come-as-you-are” attitude; to casually verbalize content areas, and bridge competencies that reflect cognitive complexity, are the goals. There are multiple advantages to the dry-run approach, although the process can be fatiguing. Each session can be customized to assess and direct attention to areas of growth such as content areas, sentence structures, logical flow of arguments, or time-horizon adaptation. Furthermore, each session may either be applied to a case study or can simply be a canvas for students to flex their knowledge. 

    Following each run, students should assess their own performance and scaffold their strategy accordingly. In addition, students are encouraged to revisit their work to supplement with more helpful content, restructure arguments with more cogency, cataloguing cited works based on content areas, or re-conceptualize the approach overall. Dry-runs are most successful when revisiting each session with the recall of new content, expansive structure, or rigorous citations that strengthen the work from its former state.

    If the exam possesses an oral component, try to say the content aloud in a comfortable location. Record yourself, and revisit your recordings with memos and concrete materials at your disposal; use the memos as ideas to bolster your arguments. Listen to your recordings frequently during your morning commute or a tedious activity. Nag your partners, family members, and friends about the wonderful world of counseling. The opportunity to voice thoughts is critical; without much practice, you risk compromising your prose in a way that might sound distinctly off-line from its intended objective. 

    Remember – “You’ve been studying this the whole time!”

    A Comprehensive Exam is exactly what it implies – an exam where all of the content you learned is fair game. You might’ve been notified of your exam date months in advance, or you have finally found a structure within your schedule where you can fully commit to your studies but with only weeks to prepare. Before deciding that riding anxiety is the only available option for success, a reframe is offered. All examinees have been doctoral students for some time, studying and engaging in courses and other scholarly activities. Examinees completed assignments, projects, reflections, presentations, and publications that satisfy all course requirements. This also means examinees should have access to textbooks and past assignment submissions. Taking this trip down memory lane is most helpful when the examinee recognizes that she or he is not approaching this exam tabula rasa, but from an approach that is quite familiar. Thus, the reframe is offered: “I am tasked to complete my doctoral exam that covers content I’ve already been exposed to and have applied throughout my doctoral career.”

    Concluding Thoughts

    If you are reading this and are broaching your exam date, this suggests high regard toward your performance which is a marker of successful outcomes. My request is that you recognize learnings that you possess, the strengths that brought you to this moment, and consider how the identified ideas might be tailored to your preferred model of success. If certain areas of this exam still seem vague, I highly encourage you to engage with mentor relationships. Best of luck, and I can’t wait to read your future dissertation!


    Leo Balseiro, MS, LMHC, NCC

    Doctoral Candidate

    Adjunct Professor - ADSOE Department of Counseling

    Barry University

    11300 NE 2nd Ave.

    Miami, FL 33161

    leo.balseiro@mymail.barry.edu



    References

    Bloom, B. S., Madaus, G. F., & Hastings, J. T. (1981). Evaluation to improve learning. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

    Granello, D. H. (2010). Cognitive complexity among practicing counselors: How thinking changes with experience. Journal of Counseling and Development, 88(1), 92-100. 

    Kostohryz, K. (2016). The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination in Counselor Education: Faculty Members’ Perception of its Purposes. The Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 8(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.7729/83.1068

    McAdams, C. R., & Robertson, D. L (2012) An informed look at doctoral vivas (oral examinations) in the preparation of counselor educators. Counselor Education & Supervision, 51, 176-188. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6978.2012.00013.x 

    Schweiger, W. K., Henderson, D. D., McCaskill, K., Clawson, T. W., & Collins, D. R.
    (Eds.). (2012). Counselor preparation: Programs, faculty, trends (13th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. 

    Tinker, P., & Jackson, C. (2004). The doctoral examination process: A handbook for students, examiners and supervisors. Glasgow, Scotland: Bell & Bell Ltd. 


  • October 17, 2020 10:40 AM | Esther McCartney (Administrator)

    The Graduate Student Committee continues to promote high-quality interviews with various roles among counselor education, in order to provide you with insight into what is involved within these positions. We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Carl Sheperis from Texas A&M University. Click here to enjoy this video!

  • April 10, 2020 1:53 PM | Dr. Kristy Christopher-Holloway (Administrator)

    Greetings SACES Graduate Students and New Professionals:

    Given the recent evolving situation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as mental health professionals we have been left with the heavy task of being sure that clients will continue to be cared for in a safe and effective manner.  Additionally, as counselor educators and counselor educators in training, we may have to evaluate alternative methods of instruction for our students.

    If our regular format for providing counseling is face-to-face, what protocols are in place to ensure that clients continue to get proper mental health care?  Also, given the recent shift in many colleges and universities to an online asynchronous format to accommodate students and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, we may have to transition our courses quickly.

    Although some agencies are equipped to engage with clients via telehealth, what options are available for those that are not?  This question has quickly risen to the surface over the past week, as we have watched the COVID-19 risks create anxiety and uncertainty in how mental health professionals across domains will provide client services.  Colleges and universities are also preparing online formats for courses midway through the semester, which can cause stress for both instructors and students alike.

    Various professional organizations have stepped up to provide potential resources for mental health providers, but it is not a one size fits all approach.  Please take into consideration that your specific mental health sites will need to be considered before determining whether the following resources could be helpful.  This includes reviewing your agency’s protocol and procedures for providing telehealth services.  Additionally, state regulations should be considered. We hope these links are helpful in at least beginning to explore your possibilities to provide continuity of care to your clients.

    Regarding counselor education, we encourage you to seek guidance from your respective college or university.  Each location should have a protocol in place to assist you in transitioning your content into an online format.  Depending on how specific your college or university is on transferring a face-to-face course into an online format, you may be responsible for identifying engaging concepts to assist your students in being successful during the next few weeks.

    As counselors and counselor educators, we must continue to be a source of consistency for our clients and students.  I hope these resources assist you in these roles.

    Resource 1: HEMHA Guide to Counseling from a Distance
    Resource 2: Distance Counseling: Best Practices in Higher Education Webinar
    Resource 3: National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Providers

    Be well!!

    Hannah M. Coyt, LPCC-S, NCC, CCMHC
    Lindsey Wilson College
    Clinical Associate Faculty
    CES Doctoral Candidate
    DSO Past President
    SACES Graduate Student Representative (2019-2020)
    KMHCA President Elect


  • March 03, 2020 1:51 PM | Dr. Kristy Christopher-Holloway (Administrator)

    The Graduate Student Committee conducted our first faculty interview to promote high quality interviews with various roles among counselor education, in order to provide you with insight into what is involved within these positions. Our first interview was conducted by Jennifer Perry, a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina Charlotte. She interviewed Dr. Sejal P. Fox from UNC Charlotte. Click here to enjoy this video! 


  • February 21, 2020 1:47 PM | Dr. Kristy Christopher-Holloway (Administrator)

    Self-care

    By Keshia Ross-Williams, LPC, LSATP, CAADC, CCS, CPCS

    With February, the month of love, coming to a close, I can imagine many of you have spent countless days focusing on loved ones and may be overdue for some self-care. Self-care is something that I teach, preach, and live by daily.  Self-care is the foundational premise that governs my life. However, I have not always been as diligent about focusing on my well-being as I am now.  I am what many refer to as a “Type A” personality. Such a description has led to me staying busy every second of the day and avoiding down-time like the plague! Now, I long for down-time and not having anything to do but relax and have fun. Because, contrary to popular belief, doing “nothing” is critical to the way I approach much of the “somethings” in my life. 

    The most important components of any self-care plan is making sure that we eat right (properly balanced meals throughout the day), exercise, and get adequate rest.  These three things are at the core of any good self-care plan, treatment plan, or medical health plan. Specific to counselor educators and students, self-compassion and mindfulness help to prevent burnout, vicarious trauma, and a lack of school-life balance (Dye, Burke, & Wolf, 2019; Nelson, Hall, Anderson, Birtles, & Hemming, 2018). Such practices follow the guidelines set forth by the American Counseling Associations’ (2014) and the National Board for Certified Counselors’ (2016) Code of Ethics.  If we do not manage our nutrition, sleep, and activity, many often find themselves in a disadvantaged state, which affects our overall mental health. A well-respected author Prockyk (2018), stated there is no separation from mind and body, for they are forever connected and affect one another, meaning not taking care of the mind affects the body and losing sight of the body will most certainly affect the mind. For many, self-care is the key to maintaining work-life and school-life schedules, and as counselors and counselor educators, self-care prepares us to present our best selves in the work we do.

    When most people hear the term self-care, they may think of activities that cost money like getting a massage or going on vacation.  Though I like engaging in those types of activities as well, there are many no-cost activities that we all can do to practice self-care. In addition to those mentioned above, taking time to ourselves to self-reflect, engaging in a good book, making sure we take our breaks at work, and spending time with loved ones are just some of the ways to practice mindfulness and self-compassion.

    During my search online for self-care inventories, I came across two good ones that helped me examine other aspects of my self-care that I generally do not consider.  The inventory published by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI; 2008) separated self-care into five different categories, including physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and workplace/ professional self-care categories. Using this tool may help you see how you are currently practicing healthy boundaries in various areas of your life. 

    The second tool is a self-care assessment developed by Irvine (2016). The Self-Care Inventory by Irvine (2016) includes an additional component focusing on supporting relationships, which often play a role in how we perceive and engage in self-care. Moreover, this self-care tool includes a care plan to address deficits uncovered after taking the assessment. Completing this tool helped me to confirm some of the adjustments that I was putting in place to address insufficiencies in the area of supportive relationships and other deficits.

    Overall, I would say that my self-care grade is a solid “A,” and I take pride in that now because before, I am convinced I was failing. I want to challenge you to evaluate your self-care score and take some time to make some adjustments. As helpers, counselors, supervisors, and educators, we must take care of ourselves to be effective and prepared to help our supervisees, clients, and students.  We must also lead by example and teach the importance of self-care so that we all can be around for a long time to witness the fruit of our labor.

    References:

    Dye, L., Burke, M. G., & Wolf, C. (2019). Teaching mindfulness for the self-care and well-being of counselors-in-training. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 1-14. doi:10.1080/15401383.2019.1642171

    National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). (2008). Self-care inventory. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/getattachment/Extranet/Education,-Training-and-Outreach-Programs/Signature-Classes/NAMI-Homefront/HF-Additional-Resources/HF15AR6SelfCare.pdf

    Nelson, J. R., Hall, B. S., Anderson, J. L., Birtles, C., & Hemming, L. (2018). Self–compassion as self-care: A simple and effective tool for counselor educators and counseling students. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health13(1), 121-133.

    Prockyk, A. (2018). Nutritional treatment to improve mental health disorders: Non-Pharmaceutical interventions for depression, anxiety, bipolar & ADHD. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media.

    Irvine, D. (2016). Self-Care inventory. Retrieved from https://www.davidirvine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/selfcareassessment2016.pdf


  • January 30, 2020 1:49 PM | Dr. Kristy Christopher-Holloway (Administrator)

    Crafting a Conference Proposal

    By Leo Balseiro

    Conference Presentations as a Scholarly Contribution
    Have you ever attended a conference and considered applying for a presentation on your own? One of the ideas I conceived as a direct result of attending conferences answered this question and generated a lot of intrigue toward the specific definition of conference presentations: in other words, what do conference presentations mean for the advancement of our profession? Seemingly, there are a handful of professional events throughout the year, with dozens of presenters at each and hundreds more in applications. To consider the value and, perhaps, why you should consider presenting at a conference is critical to your direction as a leader in the counseling profession.  

    What is a conference contribution?
    A conference contribution is a scholarly activity, where professionals apply their prose and content to the masses to share and discuss a diverse array of ideas. The idea behind conference contributions, whether it be papers, presentations, or panel discussions alike, is that they are intentional in advancing the dialogue of discussion and stimulating to the broader significance of the profession. With this in mind, seeking to contribute in the form of a conference presentation for the sole means of “just doing it” warrants further consideration behind the intentionality of the contribution (Ali, 2009). 

    Application Process
    All persons applying for a conference presentation should adhere to the evaluation rubrics used by evaluators. Hundreds of presentation applications are evaluated similarly to an academic assignment, and the rubric is specific to the information included, the relevance of the information, and how the delivery of the information. For instance, evaluators use the rubric provided by the American Counseling Association to assess numerous areas. Such areas include the content relevance with the needs of the counseling profession, organization of ideas in the literature review, clearly stated learning objectives, qualification and expertise of the presenter, and a well-developed presentation woven with a clear pedagogical approach (ACA, 2020). Thus, to consider one’s position and goal-directedness in these areas will significantly increase the chances of becoming accepted!

    Finally, ensuring that your topic coincides with the themes of the conference you are applying for is also optimal for your chances of getting accepted. For example, scholarly contributions toward the advancement of multicultural counseling competencies may suit either conferences and seminars structured around multicultural competencies or for a general counseling conference. Or, for scholarly contributions toward the advancement of multicultural sensitivity within pedagogical applications, potential presenters may explore counselor education and supervision conferences.

    Presentation Format
    No matter the person, at some point throughout their academic career, everyone has developed a hand for creating presentations. Presentations alike have various designs, with unique backgrounds, bullet points, pictures, videos, and the like that which presenters implement to stand out against the masses. However, as you prepare a presentation recalling the intention behind your scholarly activity is key. Thus there are several evidence-based considerations to designing your presentation in a manner that optimizes the conference experience. 

    For example, presenters strongly recommend the rule of six in devising your presentation outline. The rule of six is as follows: your presentation must have an image every six slides, each slide must have at most six bullet points and have a minimum of six words per bullet. Potential presenters should pay additional consideration to diversification and instructional methods, curtailing them to address each learning objective. Finally, another consideration lends itself to the legibility of each slide. For instance, you should test the readability of your slides through the use of a projector or a large monitor. Such practices are not only for your audience but also to guide you in expecting the unexpected (Garner & Alley, 2016; Tapia-Fuselier, 2019). Also, consider the format of what you would like to contribute as well. Presenters who are not interested in presenting at a conference for the first time and feel like the task of presenting for the duration of a 60 to 90-minute presentation is daunting, might consider a poster presentation to get their feet wet. Also, presenters who do not want to venture into this endeavor for their first time alone are welcome to collaborate with other professionals for one presentation!

    Conclusion
    These are general ideas to consider for those who are interested in presenting at a conference. Hopefully, these ideas will jump-start you in the direction of fruitful scholarly contributions down the road! When in doubt, always seek the consultation of your academic mentor for more advanced critiques and ideas, and also check out ACA’s and ACES’ available resources. Finally, of course, please feel free to add on to these ideas through your academic work. Best of luck to you in your academic endeavors!

    References

    Ali, K. (2009). Writing a successful annual meeting paper proposal. Retrieved from: https://www.aarweb.org/annual-meeting/writing-successful-annual-meeting-paper-proposal

    American Counseling Association (2020). Call for Proposals: ACA 2020 Conference & Expo. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/conference/about/call-for-proposals.

    Garner, J. K., & Alley, M. P. (2016). Slide structure can influence the presenter’s understanding of the presentation’s content. International Journal of Engineering Education, 32(1a), 39-54.

    Tapia-Fuselier, J. (2019). Want to present at a conference? Here are some tips and tricks! Retrieved from: https://www.counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2019/05/28/want-to-present-at-a-conference-here-are-some-tips-and-tricks


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