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Policy Regarding Student Concerns, Performance, and Functioning

Graduate programs that prepare professional counselors have an obligation to protect the public and the profession. This obligation requires the CHDS Program to (a) establish criteria and methods through which aspects of competence other than, and in addition to, a student-trainee’s knowledge or skills may be assessed (including, but not limited to, emotional stability and well being, interpersonal skills, professional development, and personal fitness for practice; and (b) ensure—insofar as possible—that the student-trainees who complete their programs are competent to manage future relationships (e.g., client, professional, public, scholarly, supervisory, teaching) in an effective manner. Because of this commitment, the CHDS program strives not to advance, recommend, or graduate students or trainees with demonstrable problems (e.g., cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, technical, and ethical) that may interfere with professional competence to other programs, the profession, employers, or the public at large.

This commitment obligates the CHDS program faculty to continually assess the progress of each graduate student in a variety of academic and applied settings. The primary purpose of this assessment is to facilitate professional growth. It is important that there are regular contacts and close working relationships between graduate students and program faculty so that these guidelines can be implemented in a way that maximizes student growth and development.

The CHDS program also recognizes that stressors are inherent both in the transition from undergraduate to graduate school, work to graduate school, as well as during the course of the training program. During graduate school, higher academic expectation is frequently encountered. In addition, when clinical work begins (in any counseling setting) there is stress inherent in being a member of a helping profession.

Further, supervision is more intensive, concentrated, and frequent during the graduate program, which may increase the student’s sense of personal and professional vulnerability.

Because graduate students make significant transitions during their graduate training and may need special assistance during this time, it is the responsibility of the CHDS program to provide recommendations and opportunities that may facilitate growth and minimize stress. Such measures include, but are not limited to: orientation meetings, advising, clear and realistic expectations, clear and timely evaluations that may result in suggestions for positive change, and contact with supportive individuals (e.g., supervisors).

Retention Standards

The CHDS program requires the following for students to maintain good academic standing in the program:

  1. Because licensure as a counselor requires a background check and documented absence of potentially relevant legal difficulties, retention in the program requires that students have no record of such difficulties.
  2. Students must maintain a minimum of 3.0 average in all academic work completed.
  3. Students who earn a grade of "C+" (or lower) or a grade of “U" in any course listed on their prospectus will be required to meet with their advisor to evaluate the impact of that performance on the overall course of study and to identify an appropriate response, which may include a faculty-approved remedial plan to develop and demonstrate mastery of essential competencies.

Coursework includes both academic and skill-related training. In addition to traditional academic and skill related growth in graduate professional training, professional growth is critical for future effective functioning as a counselor. The following exemplars illustrate professional dispositions that are considered critical for adequate progress and performance in the program. Professionally related interpersonal/professional skills included the following:

Ethics

  • Demonstration of knowledge/application of ACA or ASCA Ethical Guidelines.
  • Demonstration of knowledge/application of other statutes regulating professional practice (e.g., licensure and legal regulations).
  • Demonstration of concern for client welfare.
  • Demonstration of appropriate client-counselor relationships.

Professional Deportment

  • Appropriate manifestation of professional identity, as demonstrated by attire and behavior judged by practica, internship, and other field-based partners to be appropriate for educational settings.
  • Appropriate involvement in professional development activities (e.g., professional associations)
  • Appropriate interaction with peers, colleagues, staff, trainees, etc.
  • Awareness of impact on colleagues (faculty and students).
  • Completion of assigned tasks in a timely fashion and in an acceptable format.

Sensitivity to Client Issues. 

Acknowledgment and effective interactions with:

  • Clients of any age
  • Parents or family members of clients
  • Professionals in the field and at the work site
  • Sensitivity to the needs, resources and priorities for individuals from different cultural backgrounds (including differences in SES, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, etc.)

Use of Supervision

  • Appropriate preparation.
  • Accepts responsibility for learning.
  • Openness to feedback/suggestions.
  • Application of learning to practice.
  • Willingness to self-disclose and/or explore a personal issue which affects professional functioning.
  • Appropriately self-reliant.
  • Appropriately self-critical.

Other Training Issues

  • Effective management of personal stress.
  • Lack of professional interference because of own adjustment problems and/or emotional responses, as reflected by ability to maintain appropriate level of concentration, focus, and commitment to graduate study and professional demeanor in academic, social, and field-based settings.
  • Formulation of realistic professional goals for self.
  • Appropriate self-initiated professional development (e.g., self-initiated study).

Definition of Impairment

For purposes of this document, impairment is defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning which is reflected in one or more of the following ways: An inability and/or unwillingness...

  • To acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behavior,
  • To acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptance level of competency, and/or
  • To control personal stress, and/or cognitive, behavioral, and/or emotional reactions which interfere with professional functioning. 

It is a professional judgment as to when a graduate student’s behavior becomes severe enough to be considered impaired rather than just problematic. For purposes of this document a problem refers to a trainee’s behavior, which, while of concern and requiring redemption, is perceived not to be unexpected nor excessive for professionals in training. Problems become identified as impairments when they include one or more of the following characteristics:

  • The student does not acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified,
  • The problem is not merely a reflection of a skill-deficit which can be reflected by academic or didactic training,
  • The quality of services delivered by the student is sufficiently negatively affected,
  • A disproportionate amount of attention by training personnel is required, and/or,
  • The trainee’s behavior does not change as a function of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time.

Due process ensures that decisions made by program faculty about graduate students are not arbitrary or personally biased, requires that programs identify specific evaluative procedures which are applied to all trainees, and have appropriate appeal procedures available to the student so he/she may challenge the program’s action.

General due process guidelines include:

  • Presenting graduate students, in writing, with the program’s expectations related to professional functioning
  • Stipulating the procedures for evaluation, including when and how evaluations will be conducted (such evaluations should occur at meaningful intervals)
  • Instituting a remediation plan for identified inadequacies, including a time frame for expected remediation and consequences of not rectifying the inadequacies (see Evaluation Procedures and Timelines Regarding Due Process)
  • Providing written procedures to the graduate student which describes how the graduate student may appeal the program’s action
  • Ensuring that the graduate student has sufficient time to respond to any action taken by the program
  • Considering possible input from multiple professional sources when making decisions or recommendations regarding the graduate student’s performance
  • Documenting, in writing and to all relevant parties, the action taken by the program and its rationale.

Evaluation Procedures and Time Lines Regarding Due Process

In addition to the grades and in-course evaluations students receive as part of all courses, all students in the CHDS Program are evaluated each semester by the CHDS faculty. These evaluations involve all members of the CHSD faculty. If a significant concern about a student’s performance or functioning is identified, the following procedures will be implemented:

  • The student will be formally notified of the specific problem areas noted by the faculty.
  • Unless the problems are severe enough to warrant a forced withdrawal, a plan to remedy the problem will be developed by the CHDS faculty. This plan will, as much as possible, define the student’s problem(s), identify the expected behavior or attitude, specify possible methods that could be used to reach those goals, and designate a date for goal attainment and/or re-evaluation. During this remedial period, the student is on programmatic-probation. If the student chooses not to accept the remedial plan, he/she will be automatically dismissed from the program.
  • At the time of re-evaluation, four options exist for the CHDS faculty:
  • A decision that the specified concerns no longer present a significant problem, and the student is allowed to continue in the program.
  • Continued probation and remediation, an updated remedial plan, and a date set for another re-evaluation.
  • Recommending to the student that he/she leave the program.
  • Recommendation of formal dismissal from the program to the Associate Dean of Administrative Affairs and Graduate Education

Typically, non-academic concerns arise during practica and internship. Therefore, specific guidelines have been established for such times in a student’s program. Frequent feedback is provided on a case-by-case basis to students enrolled in practica and internship by on-site and faculty supervisors. Additional procedures have been developed for continued evaluation/feedback during the practica and internship.

These include:

  • Written internship logs, prepared by the intern, signed by the intern supervisor, and forwarded to the university supervisor every week during internship
  • Visits and / or telephone contact with the internship site at least once each semester by the course instructor or CHDS faculty member. These visits include consultation with the internship supervisor and with the intern
  • A written mid-term evaluation and final semester evaluation from the student’s supervisor to the course instructor (in some situations this may be the same person) during practica and internship.
  • Possible periodic telephone conferences between the supervisors and course instructor interspersed between site visits.
  • In the final evaluation in practica, the practica supervisor makes a recommendation regarding the endorsement of the student for internship.
  • In the final evaluation in internship, the intern supervisor makes a recommendation regarding the endorsement of the intern for certification/licensure.

If there is to be conditional endorsement or no endorsement, the student and instructor would generally be aware of these concerns at least one month prior to the submission of the final report, unless in circumstances where this is not possible due to violations of ethical and professional conduct occurring late in practica or internship. If the course instructor and CHDS faculty concur with the supervisor’s recommendation to deny moving to internship or potential licensure, and the student is in disagreement, the student may initiate appeal procedures and other university regulations as specified in this document other.

Remediation Considerations

It is important to have meaningful ways to address impairment once it has been identified. Several possible, and perhaps concurrent, courses of action designed to remedy impairments include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing supervision, either with the same or other supervisors, increasing field work experience,
  • Changing the format and/or emphasis of supervision,
  • Recommending and/or requiring personal counseling in a way that all parties involved have clarified the manner in which counseling contacts will be used in the graduate student’s progress,
  • Reducing the graduate trainee’s clinical or other workload and/or requiring a specific academic coursework, and/or
  • Recommending, when appropriate, a leave of absence and/or repeating a particular experience (e.g., practicum).

When a combination of the above interventions do not, after a reasonable time period, rectify the impairment, or when the trainee seems unable or unwilling to alter his/her behavior, the training program may take more formal action, including recommending dismissal from the program.

Procedures for Dismissal from the Program

If at any time during the course of the graduate program, concerns about performance and functioning are judged to be severe enough to warrant dismissal from the program, the Program Coordinator will notify the student of this decision in writing. The student will be given 14 days to prepare a response to the notification of dismissal and have the opportunity to request a formal review of the recommendation for dismissal from the School Director in which the program is housed. The following procedure will be followed in carrying out this review:

  • Upon notification of a request for formal review, the School Director will charge a Review Panel, comprised of three faculty members from outside the program area. The School Director as the convener of the Review Panel will designate one of the three faculty members.
  • The Review Panel will review evidence provided by the program and the student related to the program’s recommendation for dismissal and forward a written recommendation for disposition to the School Director, the Program Coordinator, and the student within five days of their deliberations. As part of their review, the Review Panel may request clarification or further information from either the student or the Program Coordinator. The student and/or Program Coordinator may request to meet with the Review Panel as part of this process.
  • The student may submit a written response to the Review Panel’s recommendation to the School Director within 5 days of receipt of their determination.
  • The School Director will consider the Review Panel’s recommendation and any response by the student and make a determination for disposition within 10 days of their determination. This disposition may uphold or reverse the program’s recommendation for dismissal. The School Director will notify the student and the Program Coordinator of the disposition.
  • The student may appeal the decision for dismissal from the Director to the Associate Dean of Administrative Affair and Graduate Education within 5 days of receipt of notification of the decision. This represents the final step in the appeal process.

Taken in part from the KSU School Psychology program.
Established November 2009 into the CHDS program.

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