President's Message

By Kelly Curtis, WSCA President

It’s National School Counseling Week – I hope you’re celebrating! 
Our annual conference is finally upon us and I can’t wait to reconnect with colleagues from across the state.  Each February feels like a renewal of sorts in our profession as we come together to learn about the most critical issues in school counseling.  Our efforts in this arena make us the highly qualified school counselors Wisconsin is known for - who help our clients to reach goals and be ready for college, career and community, who utilize the practices that are most effective and can show results, and who serve students and their families in ethical practice that make school counselors the “go-to” professionals in our communities.  Thank you for all you do to give Wisconsin School Counselors this strong reputation.  Check out the links below to find ways to celebrate National School Counseling Week. See you in Madison!
WSCA Facebook Page
WSCA Pinterest Page
National School Counseling Week resources

Topic of the Month:  Ethics

ASCA Positional Statements inform Ethical School Counseling Practice
By: Dr. Carrie King, Post-Secondary Vice President, WSCA Governing Board

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has developed a number of position statements over many years to support school counselors in clarifying their roles in a variety of areas related to school counseling.  These ASCA Position Statements cover a wide range of topics and describe the rationale for school counseling program interventions in each of these areas. They are also a valuable reference for parents, teachers, administrators, community stakeholders, and the press about the appropriate role of school counselors and/or best practices. 
Specific to school counselors, ASCA Position Statements reflect concrete applications of ASCA’s Ethical Standards and other official documents and describe the relationship between school counselors’ ethical obligations and professional school counselor practice. ASCA Position Statements do not have the force of law, but are a means of providing direction for ethical practice within the profession. They bring light to the ethical practice in the following areas: Confidentiality (A.2.d.); Academic, Career/College, Post-secondary Access and Personal/Social Counseling Plans (A.3.); Group Work (A.6.); Evaluation, Assessment and Interpretation (A.9.) Multicultural and Social Justice Advocacy and Leadership (E.2); and Responsibilities to the Profession (F.) (ASCA Code of Ethics, 2010). Finally, these statements bring to the forefront specific actions that promote student success in academic success, college and career and social/emotional development.

These documents have been developed by ASCA’s Position Statement Committee and then discussed, revised, and voted on by school counselor delegates from throughout the U.S. at the annual Delegate Assembly meetings. This is the governing body that makes official decisions related to the school counseling profession. On a rotating basis, position statements are updated annually at the ASCA delegate assembly, a gathering of representatives from each of the state school counseling associations.  Historically, Wisconsin School Counselor Association has sent two school counselor leaders to the annual delegate assembly held in conjunction with the ASCA Annual Conference. 

To review, the ASCA Position Statements provide a national standard for school counseling practices. It is useful for school counselors to review these statements and share with other (e.g., parents, students, administration, community stakeholders) to support communication with others regarding the appropriate role of the school counselor and/or best practices. Each position statement indicates when it was adopted and review/revised, the rationale for the position, and the professional school counselor’s role in regards to the position. Download a PDF containing the text of all ASCA position statements . The listings in the table below link to the individual position statements.

Academic and Career Planning
Annual Performance Evaluation
Bullying, Harassment and Violence-Prevention Programs
Character Education
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
Corporal Punishment in the Schools
Credentialing and Licensure
Crisis/Critical Incident Response in the Schools
Cultural Diversity
Equity for All Students
Gender Equity
Gifted and Talented Student Programs
Group Counseling
High-Stakes Testing
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
Peer Helping
Prevention and Intervention of Behaviors That Place Students At Risk
Retention, Social Promotion and Age-Appropriate Placement
School Counseling Preparation Programs
School-Family-Community Partnerships
Student Mental Health
Student Recruitment
Student Technology Use and Safety
Students with Disabilities
Test Preparation Programs
Use of Non-School-Counseling-Credentialed Personnel
Use of Support Staff in School Counseling Programs

 American School Counselor Association. (2010). Ethical Standards for School Counselors. Retrieved from
The Complex Role of the School Counselor
Jennifer Betters-Bubon, Post Secondary Vice President Elect, WSCA Governing Board
Imagine the following scenario that is played out in school counseling offices throughout the state:

It’s a Thursday afternoon in early September. Malcolm, a 9th grade student on your caseload, makes a quick stop to the school counseling office.  He has never stopped at the counseling office before now other than to make schedule changes or for his 9th grade ACP conference.  As such, Malcolm is anxious about the process.  Malcolm is in crisis.  His close friend who attends a nearby high school committed suicide over the summer.  Recently, due to changes in his own life and family, Malcolm has started to think about hurting himself.  He wants to talk to someone and remembers that you had asked him how he was doing recently when you saw him in the hallway.  Malcolm hopes you might have a few minutes to talk.  He arrives in the counseling office and nervously approaches the counseling secretary.  Busy with reminder calls for the upcoming 11th grade ACPs; she looks up to inquire as to Malcolm’s reason for the visit.  Not wanting to tell the secretary his problems, Malcolm mumbles that he wants to talk with you as he has questions about his schedule.  The secretary recalls a recent conversation she had with you that only students in real crisis should be seen for an appointment (you are busily prepping for the ACP conferences next week and are in the midst of coordinating upcoming testing).  As such, the secretary quickly responds that she would be happy to help, she prints him off a copy of his schedule for next semester and sends him back to class.  Defeated, Malcolm takes the schedules and walks back to class.

In the above scenario, consider the following questions:

  • What is the primary role of the school counselor?
  • Did he/she knowingly do anything ‘wrong’?
  • How can a counselor possibly do it all?
  • How might the comprehensive program be modified to ensure that students such as Malcolm do not fall through the cracks?

These are questions that we must continue to ask ourselves as individuals and as a greater profession.  A number of the ASCA position statements can be used to guide school counselors in situations such as these.

  • Academic and Career Plans: School counselors have been (rightly) called upon to act us leaders in this area. Specifically, “professional school counselors design and implement a comprehensive school counseling program that includes educational and career planning activities for all students designed to assist students in reaching academic, career and personal/social goals” (ASCA, 2013, p.1)
  • Student Mental Health: School counselors are also called upon to “provide responsive services including internal and external referral procedures, short-term counseling or crisis intervention focused on mental health or situational (e.g. grief, difficult transitions) concerns with the intent of helping the student return to the classroom and removing barriers to learning” (ASCA, 2009, p. 54).
  • Identification, Prevention, and Intervention of Behaviors that are Harmful and Place Students At-Risk:  Finally, “the professional school counselor provides proactive leadership in identifying, preventing, and intervening with student at-risk behaviors. Using data to develop and evaluate preventive and responsive services to address these risks is an integral part of a comprehensive school counseling program” (ASCA, 2011, p. 35).

School counselors are called upon to serve students in a number of ways.  Clearly all three areas identified above are important within our roles.  And yet the balance in ensuring that we meet the needs can seem out of reach.  As we continue to advocate for our profession we need to advocate for students in a number of different ways—through academic and career planning as well as through responding to students in need.  If our plates become too full to serve the very students that motivated to go into this field, we may need to relook at the system in which we do our work.  Let us all continue to strive to maintain balance between tasks and students, between paperwork and relationship and between the many roles we have been called to do within our jobs.  The ASCA position statements can help us.
All ASCA position statements retrieved from:

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DPI Corner

Guest Author:
Kathryn Bush: School Psychology Consultant
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

With the increase of frequency and intensity of mental health issues in schools, it seems appropriate to publish guest author Kathryn Bush’s article from the January 2014 Sentinel, the newsletter of the Wisconsin School Psychology Association. Dr. Bush’s article will be broken into two parts for February and March editions of WSCAlink.
Thank you to Kathryn and WSPA for their collaboration.
Frequently Asked Questions about School Mental Health: Part 1
Reprinted with permission from the WSPA Sentinel
1.  Do mental health services in schools help students, teachers and schools? 

Addressing students’ mental health is associated with positive school outcomes, such as increased academic achievement, decreased problem behaviors and improved school and classroom climate.  School mental health promotion helps create a better learning environment.  School mental health programs and services improve teaching conditions.  (Hurwitz & Weston, 2010)
2.  Why schools? 

In this country, school is the de facto mental health system for children.  About 1 in five children experience a mental disorder in a given year (Perou et al., 2013). Sixty to 90% of those children do not receive treatment.  Of the 10-40% who do get treatment, about ¾ of children and youth receiving mental health services get these services only in schools (Burns et al., 1995).
3.  Who are the school-employed mental health providers in schools? 

School counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers often provide mental health services in schools.  Others might include special education teachers with specialization in emotional/behavioral disabilities or health education teachers with advance training in suicide prevention and mental health issues.
4.  Who uses mental health services in schools?
When schools offer universal social/emotional learning services and other universal strategies, all students have potential benefits from these services.  Other universal strategies that promote good mental health include promotion of a safe climate, proactive behavior management, supportive school discipline strategies which minimize exclusion, employing the Comprehensive School Counseling Model, building environmental assets, professional development and classroom consultation around strategies to promote mental health.

When schools offer “selected”, or sometimes called Tier 2 or  “Early Intervention” strategies, individuals or small groups of students may benefit from these services. These services may be offered to students who were identified through screening as needing additional services. Small group brief intervention or psychoeducational services may be offered for such students.  Other services at this level might include brief functional behavioral analysis (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP), referral to the problem-solving team, providing classroom supports, improving staff awareness of individual and small group needs.

In the most intense level of intervention services, also known as “targeted” or “indicated,” Tier 3,  or in the public health model “systems of care,” a small number of individual students may be offered these services.  Some of the mental health services which are offered by school-employed mental health providers include Comprehensive FBAs & BIPS, 504 plans and Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs), lethal means restriction, and promotion of trauma-sensitive strategies. In-school mental health strategies that involve psychotherapy tend to be focused on Brief Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, or strategies which have evolved from these, such as SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment).   It is unclear whether school-employed mental health providers are providing extensive psychotherapy in Wisconsin schools.
5.   Can others offer mental health services in the schools? 

Universal and Tier 2 services are provided by Department of Public Instruction (DPI)-licensed mental health providers (see list above) in Wisconsin. Most of the Tier 3 services are also provided by DPI-licensed mental health providers.  Under Chapter 121.02, “each school board shall ensure that every… professional staff member holds a… license… issued by the department before entering on duties for such a position.” This means that school boards do not have the authority to hire non-DPI-licensed mental health providers to do work for which there is a DPI license (such as a license for school counseling, psychology and social work; there is a related exception for nursing). When a student’s needs are greater than what can be addressed in school by school-employed mental health providers, the student’s parents may be encouraged to pursue treatment by a provider in the community.
In Part 2 Dr. Bush will address the growing collaboration between The Department of Health Services and schools to allow the utilization of community-based mental health providers in schools.
References for Part 1
Burns, B. J., Costello, E. J., Angold, A., Tweed, D., Stangl, D.,Farmer, E., & Erkanli, A. (1995). Children’s mental health service use across service sectors. Health Affairs, 14, 147–159.
Hurwitz, L. & Weston, K. (2010). Using Coordinated School Health to Promote Mental Health for All Students. National Assembly  on School-Based Health Care.
Perou, R., et al. (2013) Mental Health Surveillance Among Children – United States,  2005-2011. Supplement to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62 (02), 1-35, Center for Disease Control

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Board Member Spotlight

Kelly Curtis:  WSCA President 2014-2015
My experience with the WSCA Governing Board of Directors began in 2012-13 as Elementary VP, but I have valued this outstanding association and conference since I began as a K-12 school counselor in the early 90’s. I remember speaking and exhibiting at the annual WSCA conference nearly every year, even during a six-year hiatus from school counseling when I pursued other projects and authored a book. On the board I have had the opportunity to work with many highly effective school counselors who run this organization.  The connections have made me improve my skills as a counselor and my use of data to guide programming, while learning to support the association as President.  In our 50th year as an association, our efforts have primarily been targeted at a huge shift in organizational structure – to policy governance.  While this daunting task has spanned several years, the talented members of our WSCA Dream Team are making significant progress, and we hope to complete the official “transition” by June 30, 2015.
Lisa Koenecke: WSCA Past President 2013-2014
I would like to thank Joni Downs and Gregg Curtis for their inspirational leadership.  As a non-traditional graduate student at UW-Whitewater, both of these mentors believed in my abilities to become a school counselor. 
This is my eighth year in the profession.  I started my internship at Monona Grove High School and then spent the next two years at Verona Area High School.  At VAHS, I had the privilege of counseling ninth graders as well as students in an alternative program.  My next step was onto Stoughton High School.  Thank you Mike Kruse for recruiting me.  Due to declining enrollment, I was only at SHS for one year.  Mike walked into my office on that April and said, "Hey, Lis, how would you like to go the middle school?"  I said, "Orrr?". To which he replied, "Hey, Lisa how would you like to go to the middle school?".  I said, "Mike, I'd LOVE to got the middle school."
I now call River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton home.  After twenty summers/years of being a camp director, I believe I've found my niche.  Middle school is an amazing stage in life.  At times, it mirrors my transformation in life.  As a 40 something woman of white privilege, I've finally come out and will continue to present on LGBTQIA issues.  My goal is to encourage safe places for ALL students, staff, families and communities.
During grad school, Joni encouraged me to join the WSCA board as a student rep.  I did, then I was appointed secretary, then elected middle school VP, and then WSCA President.  Never had I thought this farm girl from Reedsburg,Wisconsin would be the President of such an amazing group of visionaries.  Thanks to everyone who has paved the way for us to become collaborative leaders advocating for systemic change.  And, please remember that in 1990, we changed our name to School Counselor rather than guidance counselor!  If you forget, I'll hug you!
With great PRIDE,
Lisa Koenecke

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Upcoming Events & Announcements

WSCA 2015 Annual Conference Update - Feb. 17-19, 2015 "Fifty Years of Commitment to Excellence"
Why do YOU come to the WSCA Annual Conference?  It’s a question that quite possibly has as many answers as there are attendees from year to year.  It’s clear that there is no other event in Wisconsin that provides the high quality professional development targeted specifically to Professional School Counselors with such a broad array of topics.   For many, that’s the primary reason for coming each year.  For others, it’s a chance to catch up with colleagues that may only be seen this one time a year.  This networking is what makes practicing our profession in the state so much fun.  We validate each other, encourage each other, and share our best practices with each other.  The result of this exchange is that we all get a little better at what we do.

The value of the WSCA Annual Conference has been proven year after year, as we typically have over 1100 attendees each year!  This year promises to be just as educational and empowering.   The topics for the sessions will address so many of the issues and practices that are current for so many of us.  Ultimately, the primary beneficiaries of the time taken to attend the conference will be the kids and families that we serve.

This year there may be a little extra reason to attend.  WSCA is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary as an association!  We’ll be celebrating that throughout the conference, with a special toast during the reception on Wednesday night.  What a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate our profession, and more specifically, our professional association that has been providing quality representation and education for so many years.

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WSCA Day on the Hill: Continuing to Build Our Legislative Momentum

As the 2015 legislative session begins in January, there will be many new faces in the Wisconsin Legislature and, inevitably, new legislation introduced that will impact our profession. Given this, it is vitally important that WSCA members turn out to participate in our 3rd annual WSCA Day on the Hill on Tuesday afternoon, February 17, 2015. This exciting event has become a cornerstone of the annual conference and is FREE to attend!

Come learn how to effectively advocate for the profession you love and put it to practice under the dome! WSCA Day on the Hill will begin with a preconference sectional that will provide an overview of how to get your message out to your legislators about what you do, the difference you make, and how they can help support our mission. Following the interactive training session, we will walk to the Capitol where you will be scheduled to meet with your respective member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate. This event is an outstanding opportunity for professional leadership and advocacy. Over the years, our presence on the Hill has paid, and will continue to pay dividends for WSCA and all school counselors statewide. Join us, and keep the positive momentum growing! Click Here to Register

The WSCA Board of Directors believes school counselors are visionary leaders who impact the state and national agenda surrounding education and student success. In the coming year, WSCA will expand its focus to include advocacy at the federal level, in addition to our continued work at the state level through WSCA Day on the Hill and our partnerships with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development DWD).

The mission of the Government Affairs Committee is to monitor and keep the membership informed about government action that could impact our profession. To do this, we will continue to build on past momentum to create a statewide network of school counselors who would consider contacting their elected officials when a critical issue emerges about which we want to respond.

If you would like to serve on the Government Affairs Committee and/or be added to our growing statewide network of school counselors who would be willing to reach out to their elected officials in the future, please contact me right away at or 262-893-3880. Thank you for your valued time and best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season and new year!

Educators Credit Union Partnership

WSCA is proud to announce our continued partnership with: Educators Credit Union! We are thrilled to partner with ECU and want to spread awareness about their incredibly generous scholarship opportunity for high school seniors, read on for more info!
Educators Credit Union awards twenty-five $1,500 scholarships, based on a student’s academic record, participation in school and/or community activities, and demonstration of one or more of the core values of Educators Credit Union, which are respect, integrity, community, passion, and stewardship. Additionally, students must attend a Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, or Waukesha County High School.
The completed scholarship application is due by March 14, 2015 and can be found at

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An Exciting Transition for the WSCA Board

In 1965, WSCA received our charter from ASCA.  There have been many changes over our glorious 50 years.  Two summers ago, our board of directors held a leadership development institute where we created a strategic plan.  This strategic plan included a restructuring of our current board.  
To that end, we have reduced the number of actual board members from 22 to 9.  That change might seem drastic, and we believe it will help us to serve our members more efficiently.  There have been numerous discussions, policy changes, and bylaw changes.
One of the changes we have approved is to nominate potential board members to serve as directors.  This is a title change from a board member being voted in to serve as a Vice President of a level.  So, we no longer have the title of VP or VP-Elect of Elementary, Middle, Secondary or Post-Secondary.  Now, our seven elected board members will have the title of Director.
From the seven elected directors, a Board Chair will be determined.  According to the WSCA Bylaws, this Board Chair cannot be someone who is on the board in their first term.  So, don't be afraid to run for this amazing professional development opportunity.  We will continue to keep you informed as the transition to this new structure occurs.
Please do feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about our board structure or how you can help WSCA in our next 50 years!  or 608-877-5511



February 2015

President's Message
By Kelly Curtis
Topic of the Month:

Upcoming Events & Announcements

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Click Here to Register for the WSCA Annual Conference

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