The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 45, No. 2 - 71

Entry-Level Professionals' Proficiency with Helping Skills

from traditional counseling or therapy" (Reynolds & Altabef, 2015, p. 221). This distinction is
significant because residence life professionals
are rarely licensed mental health professionals
and should not be asked to provide ongoing
counseling services (Paylo et al., 2017). Instead,
they should have the skill set to provide a brief
intervention and make a referral to definitive
care. They must also have the ability to respond
to a crisis and to de-escalate stressful situations
(Reynolds, 2017).

PREPARATION IN HELPING
SKILLS FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS
PROFESSIONALS
Graduate degrees in student affairs can prepare
students for many aspects of the entry-level
housing position. "The master's degree from
a student affairs graduate preparation program
is recognized within the profession as one of
the most critical sources of professional preparation for entry into the field" (Kuk, Cobb, &
Forrest, 2007, p. 665). Herdlein (2004) found
that senior student affairs officers (SSAOs)
rated those coming out of graduate preparation programs as being merely above average
in the area of counseling. When asked what
skills the SSAOs deemed as missing from
college student personnel programs, the most
cited was a "stronger emphasis on counseling
skills, ability to write, listen and converse with
diverse populations" (Herdlein, 2004, p. 66).
This dichotomy of need versus actual preparation was also reinforced by Kuk et al. (2007).
Young and Dean (2015) found that master's-level student affairs professional preparation programs focused on helping skills differently and
felt that "programs should consider teaching
group-level and individual-level intervention

. . . not all graduate preparation
programs in student affairs
require courses in helping skills
or counseling skills, which raises
the question of where entry-level
housing professionals will learn
these important skills.

skills separately, as the knowledge acquisitions
and application of these areas are often discrete" (p. 390).
Kretovics (2002) explored the criteria that
student affairs administrators took into consideration when hiring candidates. The third
highest ranked criterion was the candidate's
ability to "demonstrate helping skills-listening, responding, and referral" (p. 916).
However, out of 17 possible responses, having
counseling coursework while in graduate
school was ranked as the 12th most important
element (Kretovics, 2002, p. 916). This disconnect between desirable skills and the training
provided also points to the concern raised about
adequate preparation to meet the demands of
entry-level positions. Finally, Reynolds (2011)
also supported the concern raised by Kuk et al.
(2007) about practitioner training to provide assistance for either individuals or groups.

Professional Organization Standards
and Competencies in Counseling/
Helping Skills
Several organizations have identified desired
and required competencies for student affairs

V O L U M E 4 5 , NO. 2 * 2 0 1 9

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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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