Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mary Hermann Garcia, JD, PhD


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of school counselors who address the mental health needs of students through at least one of the following educational evidenced-based programs: Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, Response to Intervention, Restorative Practices, and Student Assistance Program. EBPs have evolved as a staple of quality educational programming with a focus on best practices, data, and accountability. Over the past several decades, school counselors have struggled to demonstrate efficiency, accountability, and transparency consistently in counseling outcomes (Generali, Foss-Kelly, & McNamara, 2013). Recent literature in school counseling embraces the movement toward evidenced based practices to urge counselors to demonstrate their capacity for leadership, advocacy, and accountability (Cressey, Whitcomb, McGilvray-Rivet, Morrison, & Shander-Reynolds, 2014; Goodman-Scott, Betters-Bubon, & Donohue, 2015). Six significant themes emerged through data analysis: 1) Cultivating advocacy and leadership skills; 2) Recognizing benefits of EBP integration; 3) Being frontline in mental health as personal-social domain dominates school counselor role; 4) Collaborating and consulting with school and community stakeholders; 5) Needing supportive environment to promote mental wellness; and 6) Navigating EBP implementation challenges. Findings from this study suggest that promoting mental wellness using EBPs is conducive to address the personal social needs of students. Moreover, the school counselor participants indicated that the EBPs reviewed were valuable school reform models as the EBPs address students’ mental health needs. The findings also suggest that school counselors, as key educational stakeholders, should be included in the discourse of EBP advancement, execution, and assessment.


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