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The Relationship Between Job Roles and Gender on Principal-School Counselor Relationship Quality.

Mutually respectful principal-school counselor relationships with open communication and trust can help principals understand school counselors' roles and contribute to enhanced counseling services and student achievement (Clemens, Milsom, & Cashwell, 2009; Dahir, Burnham, Stone, & Cobb, 2011; Finkelstein, 2009). Finkelstein (2009) noted that, when "principals and counselors can work effectively together, their efforts stand a far better chance of making a difference and helping all students achieve" (p. 2). Both principals and school counselors believe that they can perform more effectively with mutually supportive and understanding principal-school counselor relationships (Jonson, Milltello, & Kosine, 2008). Because school counselors report to principals who are responsible for assigning their job duties (Zalaquett & Chatters, 2012), maintaining high-quality principal-school counselor relationships might enable school counselors to implement a comprehensive school counseling program aligned with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 2012). Indeed, school counselors reported that, when they had higher quality relationships with their principals, they believed they were closer to implementing effective comprehensive school counseling programs (Clemens et al., 2009).

However, the different perspectives of school counselors and principals regarding their relationships can provide opportunities for miscommunication and mistrust (Cervoni & DeLucia-Waack, 2011). In studies examining principal-school counselor relationships, principals reported higher levels of a variety of positive relational characteristics (e.g., open communication, mutual trust, mutual respect, being counted on, and being shown consideration) than levels reported by school counselors (Armstrong, MacDonald, & Stillo, 2010; Finkelstein, 2009). School counselors focused more on frequent communication with their principals, whereas principals valued the quality of communication (Duslak & Geier, 2016; Finkelstein, 2009). Because principal-school counselor relationships are important to implementation of ASCA-aligned comprehensive school counseling programs, the purpose of the present study was to understand the relationship between school counselors' perceived relationship quality with their principals and two potential pitfalls that may stand in the way of developing these relationships: school counselors' actual job duties performed and gender differences.

School Counselor Job Duties

Central to their relationship is the way that principals and school counselors navigate school counselors' job duties (i.e., how much time school counselors should spend on school counseling activities, curriculum activities, other activities). Principals typically decide what roles school counselors will perform (Zalaquett & Chatters, 2012), but school counselors can advocate for their roles. ASCA (2012) provides numerous recommendations surrounding school counselor job duties. According to the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012), school counselors should use school data to inform their decision-making about how much time to allocate to various direct services (e.g., individual counseling, group counseling, classroom core curriculum) and indirect services (e.g., consultation, collaboration). The ASCA National Model recommends that school counselors spend less than 20% of their time in program support and fair share activities (e.g., covering cafeteria or bus duty). In other words, school counselors should spend 80% or more of their time delivering direct and indirect student services. The ASCA National Model also encourages school counselors to negotiate their use of time and program delivery methods with their principals through annual agreements. Most school counselors want to spend their time in ways that align with best practice and follow the recommendations of the ASCA National Model (Scarborough & Culbreth, 2008).

Although school counselors and principals largely seem to agree on the ideal role for counselors, school counselors frequently are asked to perform noncounseling duties (Zalaquett, 2005; Zalaquett & Chatters, 2012). Principals believe that school counselors' duties should be similar to those that are recommended by the ASCA National Model (2012; Zalaquett, 2005; Zalaquett & Chatters, 2012). However, many principals are not familiar with the language and structure of the ASCA National Model or do not believe that its adoption would help school counselors focus their job duties (Zalaquett, 2005; Zalaquett & Chatters, 2012). Mason and Perera Diltz (2010) found that preservice administrators' personal experiences with school counseling and graduate school training influenced their perceptions of school counselors' responsibilities. Principals have reported not feeling that they were well prepared by their preparation programs to effectively collaborate with school counselors or to assign roles to school counselors based on the ASCA National Model's recommendations (Lowery, Quick, Boyland, Geesa, & Mayes, 2018). Yet schools where principals are educated about the ASCA National Model's recommendations on school counseling duties have lower school counselor turnover rates, increased school counselor job satisfaction, and better school climates (Chata & Loesch, 2007; Clemens et al., 2009; Jonson et al., 2008; Leuwerke, Walker, & Shi, 2009).

The discrepancy between the expectations of an ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012) program and the practice of school counselors performing noncounseling duties can cause numerous issues. First, school counselor role conflict, ambiguity, and time spent on program support and noncounseling functions is related negatively to school counselors' job satisfaction (Cervoni & DeLucia-Waack, 2011). Second, discrepancies between school counselors' actual job duties and preferred job duties are a central factor in school counselors' perceptions of principal-school counselor relationship quality (Clemens et al., 2009). Finally, even if they agree on the ideal role for school counselors, the vast majority of principals reported that they were satisfied with the actual role of their counselor, but fewer school counselors reported feeling satisfied with their role (Armstrong et al., 2010).

ASCA (2012) recommends that school counselors advocate for their roles with principals using use-of-time data and annual agreements. Discussing their roles with principals is a form of student advocacy that has numerous potential benefits. School counselors' advocacy for their roles through sharing information about the ASCA National Model affected how their principals allocated school counselors' time (Leuwerke et al., 2009). Similarly, school counselors who advocated for their role reported that their school counseling program implementation was closer to their ideal than was reported by those who had not advocated (Clemens et al., 2009). The more school counselors used advocacy skills, the stronger they reported their relationships were with their principals (Clemens et al., 2009). Conversations in which school counselors advocate for their roles using the ASCA National Model can inspire purposeful collaboration and serve as catalysts for ongoing discussions of initiatives to address school-wide issues (Jonson et al., 2008).

Although many researchers (Armstrong et al., 2010; Cisler & Bruce, 2013; Finkelstein, 2009) have examined differences in perceptions of principal-school counselor relationships related to perceptions of ideal duties, few have studied how the actual duties performed by school counselors relate to principal-school counselor relationships. School counselors' perceptions of their preferred work environment can represent an ideal that may not be realistic in actual practice because their roles must take into account many perspectives (e.g., needs of students, feedback from parents and stakeholders) in addition to their personal preferences. Developing a better understanding of how school counselors' actual job duties are related to principal-school counselor relationship quality could illuminate how school counselors can advocate for their roles with principals in ways that follow the ASCA National Model's recommendations (ASCA, 2012).

Gender and Principal-School Counselor Relationships

Although gender differences and issues related to gender (e.g., sexual harassment, microaggressions) impact supervisor-supervisee relationships (Bertsch et al., 2014; Xu, Loi, & Lam, 2015), few researchers have examined gender differences in principal-school counselor relationships. Duslak and Geier (2016) discovered that gender did not have a significant impact on school counselors' perceptions of relationship quality with their principals. Other researchers, however, have noted the importance of understanding gender differences in principal-school counselor relationships. Cisler and Bruce (2013) found significant gender-based differences among self-identified female and male school counselors' perceptions of principals' abilities to manage school personnel, parent and community collaboration, and school climate. Chata and Loesch (2007) speculated that gender bias may impact future principals' perceptions of school counselors. Although their results were not significant, Chata and Loesch noted that female future principals evaluated school counselors more favorably than their male counterparts.

Findings from Chata and Loesch (2007) and Cisler and Bruce (2013) hinted at ways gender differences may impact perceptions of principal-school counselor relationships. Male principals frequently work with female school counselors because the majority of school counselors identify as female (Bridgeland & Bruce, 2011) and close to half of principals identify as male (Bitterman, Goldring, & Gray, 2013). Considering the gender difference that often characterizes principal-school counselor relationships, the gap in perceptions between school counselors and principals regarding their relationship's levels of open communication, mutual trust, and mutual respect (Armstrong et al., 2010; Finkelstein, 2009) may indicate that gender dynamics could play an important role in principal-school counselor relationship quality. With developing evidence that gender differences can impact principal-school counselor relationships, examining the impact of gender on their relationship quality seems warranted.

Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory

LMX theorists posit that leaders' interactions with subordinates, referred to as members, influence the quality of relationships and, in turn, outcomes at individual, group, and organizational levels (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995; Paglis & Green, 2002). The quality of relationships, as measured in LMX-based research, is positively correlated with task performance (e.g., the behaviors involved with the completing of tasks) and citizenship performance (e.g., non-task-related behaviors that contribute positively to a work environment) and negatively correlated with counterproductive performance (e.g., behaviors that harm an organization; Martin, Guillaume, Thomas, Lee, & Epitropaki, 2015). According to Graen and Uhl-Bien (1995), leader-member relationship quality is based on trust, respect, mutual learning, and accommodation and can increase motivation, empowerment, and job satisfaction (Martin et al., 2015). LMX theorists discuss relationship quality in terms of trust, respect, and reciprocity, which are also important to principal-school counselor relationships (Clemens et al., 2009; Dahir et al., 2011; Finkelstein, 2009). Numerous researchers have applied LMX theory to educational settings, including as a framework to understand student-teacher relationships (Mosley, Broyles, & Kaufman, 2014), the relationship of peer leaders to student academic performance (Peterson & Aikens, 2017), and principal-school counselor relationships (Clemens et al., 2009). LMX theory offers both a framework for principals and school counselors to understand how they contribute to principal-school counselor relationships and a structure to support and strengthen these relationships. It also frames leader-member relationships in concrete and specific behaviors that fit the data-driven, outcome-based focus of the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012).

Purpose of the Study

Principal-school counselor relationships are important to implementation of ASCA-aligned comprehensive school counseling programs. Because gender differences and school counseling roles can impact these relationships, we sought to answer the following question in the present study: Do the job duties performed by school counselors, gender of school counselors, and their years of experience relate to the quality of their relationships with principals? We included years of experience in school counseling as a predictor variable to determine whether school counselors learn over time to have better relationships with their principals. The findings of this study offer important implications for how school counselors can advocate for their roles with principals and approach gender differences in principal-school counselor relationships. Understanding the relationship between the abovementioned variables and relationship quality may empower school counselors and principals to discuss these topics in their relationships more directly and efficiently, with impacts on their behaviors. In turn, improving principal-school counselor relationships can increase school counselor job satisfaction, reduce school counselor turnover rates, and improve counseling services and student achievement (Chata & Loesch, 2007; Clemens et al., 2009; Dahir et al., 2011; Finkelstein, 2009; Jonson et al., 2008; Leuwerke et al., 2009).


After approval by the appropriate institution's human subjects review board as part of a larger study on factors influencing the cognitive complexity of school counselors, we selected 12,050 elementary, middle, and high school counselors as potential study participants from a random sample from 32 U.S. states. Each prospective participant was sent one initial e-mail inviting them to participate in the study and one follow-up e-mail a week later. Of the 12,050 initial e-mails sent, 902 e-mails bounced back as undeliverable and the total number of respondents was 655, a response rate of 5.88%.


Employment as a school counselor was a requirement for potential participants. The initial sample of 655 was reduced to 167 because 480 participants did not complete all instruments for this study and 8 were not currently employed as a school counselor. One hundred forty-one participants (82.9%) identified as female and 29 (17.1%) identified as male. None indicated a gender other than male or female in the open blank provided. The ages of participants ranged from 25 to 65 with a mean of 40.4. The majority of participants (86.83%; n = 145) identified their race/ethnicity as White. Eight participants (4.79%) identified as multiracial/multiethnic, seven (4.19%) as Hispanic/Latino/a, three (1.80%) as African American/Black, three (1.80%) identified as Other, and one (0.06%) identified as Asian American/Pacific Islander. Participants' years of experience working as a school counselor ranged from 1 to 34 with a mean of 8.53. Forty-four participants (26.35%) worked at elementary schools, 37 (22.16%) worked at middle/junior high schools, 66 (39.52%) worked at high schools, 7 (4.19%) worked at K-12 schools, and 13 (7.78%) worked at schools they characterized as "other." Thirty-nine (23.35%) participants reported working at a school in an urban area, 72 (43.11%) reported working at a suburban school, and 56 (33.53%) reported working at a school in a rural area. The approximate free and reduced lunch percentages at participants' schools ranged from 0% to 100% with a mean of 42.45%. Finally, 161 (96.4%) participants had attempted to implement the ASCA National Model in their programs.


To answer this study's research question, we used the School Counselor Activity Rating Scale (SCARS; Scarborough, 2005) and the Leader-Member Exchange Seven-Member Version (LMX7; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). We also collected further demographic information, including the data reported in the section above. Of these demographic data, gender and years of experience as a school counselor were included as predictor variables.

SCARS. The SCARS was designed to assess the actual frequency with which school counselors perform specific job duties and the preferred frequency with which they would like to perform specific job duties (Scarborough, 2005). Participants rate their actual and preferred frequencies on a scale of 1 (I never do this, I would prefer to never do this) to 5 (I routinely do this, I would prefer to routinely do this). Based on a factor analysis conducted by Scarborough (2005), the 48 items in the instrument are broken up into five subscales: (a) Counseling Activities, (b) Consultation Activities, (c) Curriculum Activities, (d) Coordination Activities, and (e) Other Activities. Excluding the "Other" Activities subscale, the items were developed to reflect the recommendations of the 2003 ASCA National Model. The SCARS has not been revised to reflect the 2012 update to the ASCA National Model. Although most of the activities covered in the SCARS are still part of the 2012 ASCA National Model, individual student planning and crisis response are not well represented in the instrument. We used all 48 items in the instrument, including the "Other" Activities subscale. Because the present study examined only the school counselors' actual job duties, we included only ratings for how frequently participants performed job duties but not their preferred frequencies. Otherwise, we did not modify any of the items.

Scarborough (2005) assessed the reliability and validity of each of the subscales of the SCARS using a sample of 361 school counselors from two Southern states. The Counseling Activities subscale includes 9 items representing individual and group counseling activities. The sample of school counselors had a Cronbach's [alpha] of .85 for actual frequency and .83 for preferred frequency. The Consultation Activities subscale consists of 7 items involving working with other educational professionals, parents, and agencies. The sample had a Cronbach's [alpha] of .75 for actual and .77 for preferred. The 8 items of the Curriculum Activities subscale reflect activities that school counselors perform in classrooms (e.g., classroom instruction) or with large groups of students. The sample had a Cronbach's [alpha] of .93 for actual and .90 for preferred. The Coordination Activities subscale has 13 items on topics including program planning and informing others in their schools about the role of the school counselors. The sample had a Cronbach's [alpha] of .84 for actual and .85 for preferred. The "Other" Activities subscale consists of 10 items including five questions on fair share activities ([alpha] = .53 for actual, [alpha] = .58 for preferred), three on clerical activities ([alpha] = .84 for actual, [alpha] = .80 for preferred), and two on administrative activities ([alpha] = .43 for actual, [alpha] = .52 for preferred). Scarborough examined group differences among levels of employment within the sample to establish convergent construct validity and found a significant effect of grade level on all seven SCARS subscales. To establish discriminant construct validity, Scarborough also examined correlations between SCARS actual subscales and years of experience (a variable for which existing research had shown mixed empirical support). He found correlations between years of experience and only two subscales (Coordination and Consultation).

LMX7 (member version). Rooted in LMX theory, the LMX7 is a measure of the quality of working relationships between leaders and members based on their interactions over time (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). It is a 7-item measure that asks respondents to rate their relationship with their supervisors on elements such as trust and mutual respect, using a 5-point Likert-type scale. In a manner similar to the Clemens, Milsom, and Cashwell's (2009) study, we slightly adapted some of the wording of the LMX7 to specifically reflect the principal-school counselor relationship (e.g., changing "supervisor" to "principal"). We intentionally did not offer a definition of the term principal so that participants would respond to the survey thinking of the administrative relationship that stood out most to them. Higher scores represent school counselors who reported stronger relationships with their principals. In their study on the LMX7, Paglis and Green (2002) found strong internal consistency reliability ([alpha] = .92). Paglis and Green's factor analysis of

the LMX7 indicated that it was a unidimensional measure. Cronbach's a for the LMX7 in this study was .94.

Data Analysis

We ran a multiple linear regression analysis in SPSS Version 25 with school counselors' relationship quality with their principals, as measured by the LMX7, as the dependent variable. The seven independent variables were the actual frequency that school counselors reported performing counseling activities, consultation activities, curriculum activities, coordination activities, and other activities (as measured by the SCARS), years of experience working as a school counselor, and gender.

Before conducting a multiple regression analysis, we examined the fit of the data with the assumptions of a multiple regression including linearity, independent errors, homoscedasticity, non-multicollinearity, and normal distribution of errors (Howell, 2013). We examined the assumption of linearity and independent errors through a visual examination of a scatter plot of standardized residuals against standardized predicted variables. We assumed linearity was present without independent errors because the residuals in this plot were displayed in a scattered distribution of positive and negative points with no obvious pattern. We also assumed homoscedasticity was met because the variances of the residuals were constant, as evident by the scattered residuals in this plot. In a correlation matrix of the independent variables created to assess the independent variables for multicollinearity, none of the variables had standardized correlation coefficients greater than .6. We also assumed nonmulticollinearity because the average of our variance inflation factors (VIFs) was 1.48, none of the individual VIFs were above 3, and all tolerances were above .2. We upheld the assumption of normally distributed errors because, in analyzing the normal Probability-Probability Plots, the errors appeared normally distributed. We conducted a post hoc power analysis using the G*Power software (Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007). With our sample size of 167 for a multiple regression with seven predictors, our [R.sup.2] of .274, and an error probability level of .05, our power was 0.99.


Based on their LMX7 scores, participants varied widely in their reports of relationship quality with their principals but overall reported positive relationships (R = 8-35, M = 27.37, SD = 7.16). Ranges, means, and SDs of the actual frequencies of roles are reported in Table 1. Participants ranged in years of experience from 1 year to 34 years with a mean of 8.53 and an SD of 6.80.

The linear regression model was significant, F(7, 159) = 14.48, p [less than or equal to] .001 with 27.4% of the variance in relationship quality explained by the predictors (R = .52, [R.sup.2] = .27, adjusted [R.sup.2] = .24). Statistics regarding predictors' relationships to relationship quality are reported in Table 2, and a correlation matrix is reported in Table 3. In terms of the frequency of performed activities, curriculum activities and consultation activities were related positively to relationship quality with principals, and other activities were related negatively. Gender also predicted relationship quality. Being a female school counselor was associated with lower quality relationships with principals. Counseling activities frequency, coordination activities frequency, and years of experience did not predict relationship quality.


The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship of school counselors' actual job duties performed, gender, and years of experience to their relationship quality with their principals. As a whole, conducting more curriculum activities and more consultation activities, such as teaching classroom lessons and activities, was related to higher relationship quality with their principals. The frequency and quality of consultation with principals specifically may be central to principal-school counselor relationship quality. Principals are one of the sources school counselors consult with most frequently, and school counselors who consulted more often with their principals reported better relationships with them (Duslak & Geier, 2016). In contrast, conducting activities in the "other" category, including coordinating standardized testing programs, performing bus or cafeteria duty, or handling student discipline, was related negatively with principal-school counselor relationship quality. This finding may indicate that school counselors who are asked to perform these other duties by their principals feel conflicted between following the recommendations of the ASCA National Model and the instructions of their principals. The nonsignificant results on the counseling and coordinating activities might indicate that school counselors view themselves as having more autonomy over their frequency of performing them. For example, principals often place school counselors into the role of testing coordinator or plan their classroom instruction schedules but are less likely to create a structured individual or group counseling plan for them. Because principals often assign duties to school counselors in curriculum, consultation, and "other" domains and these domains are related to relationship quality, school counselors' efforts in advocating for their roles with principals may be best targeted in these domains.

The lower relationship quality reported by female participants may reveal that gendered power dynamics are often unexamined in principal-school counselor relationships. A decent proportion of school counselors work with principals of a different gender; nationally, nearly half (47.6%) of principals identify as male (Bitterman et al., 2013) and the majority (77%) of school counselors identify as female (Bridgeland & Bruce, 2011). Our finding contradicts Duslak and Geier's (2016) finding that gender was not significantly related to principal-school counselor relationship quality, but the findings of Cisler and Bruce (2013) and Chata and Loesch (2007) highlighted the impact that gender can have in these relationships. Although we did not collect data on principals' gender in this study, which limits our ability to form conclusions on this finding based on gender differences, the presence of traditional gender roles and hierarchical gendered power structures may have affected female school counselors' reports of the quality of their relationships with principals, especially given reports of the negative impact of power dynamics and gender discrimination in psychotherapy supervisory relationships (Bertsch et al., 2014). Male principals might approach their relationships with school counselors with less egalitarianism and less open discussions in ways that widen power differentials. Further, 42% of women in the United States reported that they have faced discrimination in the workplace because of their gender (Parker & Funk, 2017); therefore, male principals may perform microaggressions (e.g., talking over them, dismissing their ideas) or other discriminatory behaviors toward female school counselors. Because abusive supervisors can cause subordinates to remain silent in the workplace due to emotional exhaustion (Xu et al., 2015), female school counselors may feel less willing to speak up for their role and their students. A closer examination of gender discrimination in principal-school counselor relationships seems warranted.


The results of this study have practical implications for school counselors and counselor educators. School counselors need to collaborate and advocate to promote their work in appropriate school counseling-related tasks, ultimately enhancing the school counselor-principal relationship. When school counselors acknowledge their power in their relationships with principals and view this relationship as an interaction of mutual growth (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995), they can feel empowered to work strategically with their principals to improve their school counseling programs. To achieve this, school counselors should prioritize incorporating and analyzing data into their school counseling program and disseminating program results to administrators and staff. For example, they can show evidence that their work in student services, such as conducting core curriculum activities, has measurable outcomes aligned with administrators' priorities. Even brief and informal sessions in which school counselors expose their principals to the ASCA National Model can impact principals' perceptions regarding school counselors' job duties (Duslak & Geier, 2016; Leuwerke et al., 2009). In turn, principals may be more likely to limit the assignment of non-school counseling tasks. However, school counselors should not expect their principals to have the power to change school counselor roles that are outside of administrative control (e.g., when roles are mandated by the central office). Frequent meetings and opportunities for consultation can help principals and school counselors discuss these issues (Duslak & Geier, 2016).

Routinely using ASCA National Model tools such as use-of-time assessments and annual agreements (ASCA, 2012; Duslak & Geier, 2016) can help school counselors advocate for their roles and collaborate more effectively with principals. School counselors can track how much of their time is actually spent in student services and "other" activities with use-of-time assessments. In contrast to school counselors' perceptions, principals often perceive other tasks or administrative tasks as taking up less of a counselor's time (Finkelstein, 2009). Thus, routinely incorporating use-of-time assessments can aid school counselors in determining how they actually use their time and help them advocate for their roles. Similarly, incorporating an annual agreement can assist school counselors in advocating for their role while also promoting collaboration with principals. Annual agreements allow school counselors and principals to outline expectations in formal discussion on school counseling program goals by meeting and agreeing "on program priorities [and] implementation strategies" (ASCA, 2012, p. 46). Naming expectations and navigating differences in perceptions early and frequently in a principal-school counselor relationship can build a stronger relationship and more impactful roles for school counselors.

Counselor educators have the responsibility to prepare school counselor trainees with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to collaborate and advocate. Educators teaching school counseling content courses should provide students with the opportunities to understand, analyze, and disseminate data and collaborating with administrators (Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, 2016). Internship and practicum experiences provide unique opportunities for counseling students to apply their knowledge to practice. Since individual internship sites and site supervisors vary, counselor educators should work closely with site supervisors to ensure school counselors in training have the opportunity to practice collaborating with administrators, using data, and advocating for their role. This might include providing additional professional development for site supervisors and creating specific expectations for data utilization and advocacy tasks required of interns at their sites.


This study's low response rate of 5.88% may mean that results are not representative of the national population of school counselors. Participants who completed the survey may be more conscientious or agreeable than the population of school counselors as a whole. Accordingly, they may have had higher quality relationships with their principals or higher frequencies of activity performed across all subscales of the SCARS than average school counselors. Our sample was predominantly White (86.83%), which may not reflect the population of school counselors as a whole. Furthermore, we did not examine gender differences between school counselors and principals. Since we did not ask about the gender of principals in this study, determining whether gender differences and gender power dynamics were related to the significant gender predictor is difficult. Finally, knowing more about how the context of a school environment shapes the principal-school counselor relationship is important. For example, school counselors often work with multiple principals or at multiple schools. Our survey only specified that participants complete the LMX7 thinking about "[their] principal" without specifying how many principals they worked with or which principal.

Suggestions for Future Research

Gaining a deeper understanding of the relationship dynamics and structure of principal-school counselor interactions could illuminate more nuances in the principal-school counselor relationship. Specifically, understanding school counselors' relationship quality with principals in terms of different gender pairings could help paint a clearer picture of how relationship dynamics may impact school counselor roles. Hierarchical gendered power structures and power dynamics may impact relational dynamics, work experiences, and the ability of school counselors to effectively advocate for their roles. Thus, researchers could examine hierarchical power dynamics in principal-school counselor relationships and their potential impact on job satisfaction and school counselor turnover. Similarly, researchers could also examine demographic variables beyond gender that may impact power dynamics in the counselor-principal relationship such as racial and ethnic differences. Additionally, researchers could explore the impact of school counselors' advocacy efforts on their relationships with principals and how relationships with principals evolve over time. We did not ask whether participants discussed use-of-time data or annual agreements with their principals, but knowing more about how these activities impact principal-school counselor relationship quality could be useful. Finally, obtaining the qualitative perspective of both principals and school counselors in advocacy efforts and relational dynamics could provide greater clarity into the most effective strategies for collaboration and advocacy.


Developing quality principal-school counselor relationships can help school counselors align their work with the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012) and take on a leadership role in their schools (Leuwerke et al., 2009). School counselors and principals can improve the school counseling programs at their schools by navigating differences in perceptions of roles early and frequently, by building mutual trust and respect (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995), and by focusing discussions on the consulting, curriculum, and "other" roles. Building collaborative principal-school counselor relationships can help create a school environment where all children can grow and succeed.

DOI: 10.1177/2156759X19861105

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


Phillip L. Waalkes [ID]


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Author Biographies

Phillip L. Waalkes, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Sciences and Professional Programs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (Email:

Daniel A. DeCino, PhD, is an assistant professor in counseling and psychology in education at the University of South Dakota.

Jaimie Stickl Haugen, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida.

Amanda Dalbey is a graduate teaching assistant with the Counseling and School Psychological Services Center at the University of South Dakota.

Phillip L. Waalkes [1] [ID], Daniel A. DeCino [2], Jaimie Stickl Haugen [3], and Amanda Dalbey [2]

[1] University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA

[2] The University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, USA

[3] University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Corresponding Author:

Phillip L. Waalkes, PhD, College of Education, University of Missouri-Saint Louis, 408 Marillac Hall, 1 University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121, USA.

Table 1. Ranges, Means, and SDs of Actual Frequencies of Job Roles.

Predictor                      Range       M      SD

Counseling activities        1.70-4.60    2.97   0.60
Consultation activities      1.29-5.00    3.07   0.71
Curriculum activities           0-5.00    2.53   1.14
Coordination activities      0.92-4.62    2.54   0.74
Other activities             1.30-4.30    2.69   0.67

Table 2. Multiple Regression Analysis of All Predictor Variables on
Relationship Quality.

Predictor                     B      [beta]     t        p

Years of experience        -0.068    -.064   -0.926    .356
Gender                      3.171     .165    2.397    .018
Counseling activities       0.021     .018    0.197    .844
Consultation activities     0.373     .261    2.896    .004
Curriculum activities       0.158     .201    2.407    .017
Coordination activities     0.127     .171    1.803    .073
Other activities           -0.358    -.332   -4.494   <.001

Note. [R.sup.2] = .274, F(7, 159) = 8.564.

p [less than or equal to] .001.

Table 3. Correlation Matrix.

Variable                        1     2     3        4          5

1. Years of experience          --   .02    .06    .09        .17 *
2. Gender                            --    -.06   -.14 *     -.11
3. Counseling activities                   --      .51 **     .49 **
4. Consultation activities                        --          .24 **
5. Curriculum activities                                     --
6. Coordination activities
7. Other activities
8. Relationship quality

Variable                           6          7         8

1. Years of experience           .17 *      .02       .01
2. Gender                       -.17 *     -.07       .10
3. Counseling activities         .57 **     .10       .30 **
4. Consultation activities       .52 **     .38 **    .25 **
5. Curriculum activities         .51 **     .04       .32 **
6. Coordination activities      --          .20 **    .31 **
7. Other activities                        --         .21 **
8. Relationship quality                               --

* p < .05. ** p < .01.
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Title Annotation:Featured Research
Author:Waalkes, Phillip L.; DeCino, Daniel A.; Haugen, Jaimie Stickl; Dalbey, Amanda
Publication:Professional School Counseling
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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