An ethnographic study of the perceived interpersonal relationships between secondary school principals and counselors

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Administration|Education, Guidance and Counseling




This ethnographic study focused on the perceived interpersonal relationships between secondary school principals and counselors. The activities of three secondary school principals and twenty secondary school counselors; one principal and three counselors in a rural secondary school, one principal and eight counselors in a suburban secondary school, and one principal and nine counselors in an urban secondary school, are described and analyzed in cultural terms.^ This study emphasizes those processes most directly related to the principals and counselors assigned tasks and activities, as well as, observable events and occurrences that are specific to the topic and setting.^ Counseling in secondary schools is a major element in the school program. Research has traditionally focused on the counselor and the client. In recent years, however, the role of the principal as counseling supervisor has become a focal point of research conducted by state and Federal agencies. In a national study conducted at the state level in the United States and four territories it was stated, "That the level and quality of guidance and counseling leadership at the state level seems to be directly affected by shifts in administrative and leadership functions." "Where the Federal emphasis on money and visibility is, state government frequently follows."$\sp1$^ Literature indicates the importance of understanding the interpersonal relationships between principals and the counselors whom they supervise. Counselor and principal relationships have the potential for misunderstanding because the frame of reference from which the principal is operating may not be the same as the counselor in terms of the role and function of counseling. ftn$\sp1$ Wantz, Richard A., Corvin, Sue Ann, and Hollis, Joseph W. The role and function of the counseling and guidance staff of two state departments of education: A descriptive study, Counselor Education and Supervision, Vol. 24, No. 3, March, 1985, pp. 264-274. ^