The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 68

David Schmid * Jennifer Wagstaff

practitioners be able to respond to the personal needs and concerns of students with sensitivity and effective helping skills" (p. 453). In
particular, today's student affairs professional
must be mindful that an increasing number
of students arrive on campus with preexisting mental health disorders, and the majority
of students experience adjustment and transition issues due to the mere fact that their
physical environment has changed and their
academic workload is far more demanding
(Swanbrow Becker & Drum, 2015).
It is acknowledged that the terms counseling skills and helping skills are often used interchangeably. For the purpose of this study,
the authors have distinguished between the
two. Counseling skills are more restricted
and are delivered as a formal process by licensed mental health professionals, whereas
helping skills are less restricted and are delivered by individuals who have the professional
obligation to serve others. Our definition of
helping skills includes the 28 skills described
by Reynolds (2011), which include listening,
building relationships with students, asking
questions, providing challenge and support,
honesty, problem solving and decision
making, empathy and compassion, attending behaviors, and multicultural competence.
To simplify the discussion, the term helping
skills will be utilized unless it is specific to
a direct quotation or referring to a counseling course. While helping skills may be addressed as a portion of counseling courses,
these "courses typically focus on counseling
theory and microskills with little attention on
more advanced helping skills, such as crisis
intervention or group facilitation" (Reynolds,
2008, as cited in Reynolds, 2011, p. 362).

70

. . . one skill set that has remained
constant within student affairs
and has been frequently endorsed
as one of the most essential
competencies is human relations.

Much of the literature discusses student
affairs, whereas the focus of this study is on
residence life. It is difficult to dispute Herdlein's (2004) or Reynolds' (2011) statements
that all student affairs professionals must
have effective helping skills in order to best
serve the varying needs of students outside the
classroom. In our survey, out of 17 possible responses, hiring managers ranked having counseling coursework while in graduate school as
the 12th most important element for new entrylevel professionals (Kretovics, 2002). This is
important, since what is included in graduate programs should provide a connection
between the skills learned and those desired
by future employers. The purpose of this study
was to focus on entry-level student affairs professionals who work in residence life and to
explore their proficiency with helping skills as
perceived by senior housing officers (SHOs).
In addition, this study examined the curricula
of student affairs graduate programs nationwide to determine if course offerings include
instruction in helping skills and whether
entry-level professionals are being prepared.
A descriptive comparison of the two results
will be discussed, and recommendations will
be made. Residence life was selected as the

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - Intro
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