Mentoring and Supervising International Students in School Counseling Programs

Peer-Reviewed Article
© Journal of International Students
Volume 9, Issue 3 (2019), pp. 912-928
ISSN: 2162-3104 (Print), 2166-3750 (Online)
Doi: 10.32674/jis.v9i3.746
Mentoring and Supervising International Students
in School Counseling Programs
Bridget Asempapa
West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA
Graduate counseling programs in the United States have increased their population
of international students. However, limited studies have addressed the challenges of
international students, specifically in school counseling programs. Considering the
cultural disparities that exist for international school counseling students and the
challenges associated with being an international student in general, this article
identifies and delineates a culturally appropriate mentoring and supervision model
that has the potential to shape the experiences of international students in school
counseling training programs. The model presented through a case study argues that
intentional mentoring and supervision for international school counseling students
enhance productivity during students’ field experiences in U.S. school systems.
Keywords: counselor education, culturally appropriate mentoring, graduate
international students, school counseling, supervision
Data reported over the years have indicated that U.S. colleges and universities have
consistently observed an increase in enrollment of international students. As
evidenced in the 2017 Open Doors report, data recorded showed a total enrollment of
623,805 international students for the 2007–2008 academic year as compared with
1,078,822 international students’ total enrollment in the 2016–2017 academic year.
The same report indicated that international students constituted about 5.3% of the
total U.S. enrollment (Institute of International Education, 2018). With this type of
growth, international students’ needs have become relevant to various academic
institutions and fields, including counselor education programs, which has resulted in
increased research studies that focus on this population (Hegarty, 2014; Leong, 2015;
Ng, 2006).
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The interest in international students’ growth prompted Ng (2006) to investigate
the number of students enrolled in U.S. counselor education programs accredited by
the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
(CACREP). Findings indicated that 73 out of 96 accredited programs that participated
in the study reported enrollment of international students during the spring semester
of 2004. A recent report from CACREP (2016) showed that of 1,741 doctoral students
enrolled in CACREP accredited counseling programs, 4.14% were international
students. The same report indicated that international students constituted about 1%
of master’s students in CACREP accredited counseling programs. These studies did
not report data on counseling specializations. Nevertheless, studies from related fields
such as marriage and family therapy (Mittal & Wieling, 2006) and rehabilitation
counseling programs (Zhu & Degeneffe, 2011) have investigated the challenges of
international students. Additionally, Behl, Laux, Roseman, Tiamiyu, and Spann
(2017) have examined the acculturative needs of international students in CACREP
programs. A consistent theme in these studies points to the essence of personal,
academic, social, and cultural support for international students in counseling
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of literature that speaks more directly about
supportive measures that foster international school counseling students’ training in
U.S. school counseling programs. International school counseling students, in this
context, imply international graduate students enrolled in master’s level school
counseling programs. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to: (a) address the gap
in the literature concerning the challenges international students often face in school
counseling programs; (b) explore culturally sensitive mentoring and supervision
alternatives required for promoting international school counseling students’
learning; and (c) create an awareness of the individual and global benefits of such
measures for all stakeholders.
As school counseling gains credence worldwide, international students are
coming to the US in search of graduate training in this area of counseling. The
presence of international school counseling students adds multicultural value not only
to counseling programs but also to U.S. PreK–12 school systems. The interactions
that occur between international school counseling students and their domestic
counterparts create multicultural awareness (Behl et al., 2017). Additionally, the
presence of international students in counseling programs provide experiences and
continued opportunities for increased internationalization (Leong, 2015) among
domestic students, faculty members, and the site supervisors. Moreover, there is
economic benefit for U.S. colleges and universities because of the tuition disparities
between international and domestic students (Hegarty, 2014).
Needs of International Counseling Students
A plethora of studies have supported the assertion that international students
generally experience social, personal, cultural, and academic challenges that may
hinder their success when studying in the US (e.g., Boafo-Arthur, 2014; Burlew &
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Alleyne, 2010; Mittal & Wieling, 2006; Olivas & Li, 2006). Specific to professional
counseling, Tidwell and Hanassab (2007) administered a 50-item self-report
questionnaire to 640 international counseling students (ICSs) from public universities
in the west coast of the United States to investigate their needs and experiences.
Results from the study indicated that the highest needs pertained to issues regarding
immigration, academic information, and career development challenges. When asked
about their personal changes in awareness, the participants reported that the greatest
change was related to philosophical and cultural awareness. Moreover, ICSs have
also reported challenges with language proficiency, discrimination, and acculturation
related to theory, practice, and supervision in an environment other than their native
countries (Mittal & Wieling, 2006; Ng & Smith 2009; Nilsson, 2007). Nilsson’s
(2007) study provided a synopsis of the impacts of understanding both culture and
language proficiency on the client–counselor and the supervisor–supervisee
relationship as described in the following: (a) cultural understanding being paramount
to empathy; (b) language proficiency being vital to communication; (c) acculturation
influencing self-efficacy in ICSs as well as affecting the working alliance between
supervisor and supervisee; and (d) correlation between ICSs’ well-being and
productivity versus understanding of culture and proficiency in language.
Counselor education programs are likely to do a disservice to their ICSs if
instructions and curriculum are presented without consideration to cultural
disparities. Ng and Smith (2009) compared the experiences of domestic students and
ICSs, and highlighted some of the pertinent differences that exist in these groups. The
results from the study indicated that compared to domestic students, ICSs have:
higher levels of academic problems, English proficiency issues, cultural
adjustment problems, social/relational problems with peers, difficulties in
clinical courses, problems fitting in at clinical sites, problems
communicating with clients due to language barriers, conflicts with Western
understandings, approaches to treating mental health, discrimination by
faculty members, and discrimination by fellow American trainees (p. 66).
While these problems may be true of many international students, Ng and Smith
(2009) cautioned the generalization of these results. Nevertheless, most universities
have established protocols by which they monitor and attempt to resolve some of
these issues. For instance, most universities assess English language proficiency to
ensure that international students (Education USA, 2018), including ICSs, who are
not proficient in English language enroll in English language classes to enhance their
proficiency. In recognizing the potential disorientation and acculturative difficulties,
some institutions have specific measures, such as mentoring programs (Yip, 2014),
to help international students adjust to the U.S culture. Despite these general
challenges and supportive measures, international school counseling students (ISCSs)
are likely to face important and specific school counseling related issues that are
missing in the literature.
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Challenges ISCSs Face in U.S. School Counseling Training Programs
A review of the literature surprisingly revealed little to no studies on exploring
international school counseling students’ (ISCSs) development and experiences.
None of the previous studies (Behl et al., 2017; Ng & Smith, 2009) about ICSs
focused on ISCS. Ng and Smith’s (2009) work mentioned the inclusion of four school
counseling students in the sample for their study. However, there was no specific
analysis in relation to the students’ program of study when compared to other
programs. The next paragraphs provide a summary of the expectations for a master’s
degree in school counseling, and the specific challenges ISCSs might face in U.S.
school counseling training programs.
School counseling programs accredited by CACREP (2015) are guided by
standards to develop curricula that offer eight common core courses, contextual and
elective courses, and placement in PreK–12 school settings for field experience.
Although the minimum requirement for a school counseling program is expected to
be 60 credit hours by July 1, 2020, currently the expected minimum is 48 credit hours.
Included in most school counseling curricula are the American School Counselor
Association (ASCA) standards and national models (ASCA, 2012, 2016) that serve
as foundation and framework for practice. Students engage in 100 clock hours of
practicum and 600 clock hours of internship. During that period of field experience
(practicum and internship), onsite and faculty supervisors provide a minimum of 1-
hr and 1.5 hr per week supervision respectively for students. These requirements are
uniform for both domestic students and ISCS.
Anecdotal experiences show that most students are able to complete these
requirements in two-years, with the first year serving as preparation for field
experience. By the second year, most full-time students are beginning field
experience. However, unlike the domestic students, ISCS have no experience with
the American school systems, and do not understand the operations in PreK–12
schools. Although it could be argued that out-of-state domestic students experience
some level of unfamiliarity, it does not compare to the experiences of ISCSs. The first
year for ISCSs is often used to gain familiarity with the American culture, teaching,
and learning style. This is evidenced by reports of international students’ adjustment
struggles with acculturation (Hanassab & Tidewell, 2002; Hirai, Frazier, & Syed,
2015; McDowell, Fang, Kosutic, & Griggs, 2012). To further complicate issues, most
of the ISCSs (like their domestic colleagues) have the responsibility of finding school
sites for field experience. Again, this generates stress for ISCSs as they compete for
school placement sites with their domestic colleagues who sometimes have prior
network connections in the schools. When it comes to field placement, an issue that
is of great importance is proximity. If an ISCS does not possess a driver’s license
during the field placement, lack of mobility becomes an added challenge.
Some may argue that ISCSs are not required to complete the program within 2
years, especially with some counseling programs transitioning from 48 to 60 credit
hours. Nonetheless, given that most ISCSs are paying fees out of pocket or are on
scholarships (Gautz, 2017; Schulte & Choudaha, 2014) they are not afforded the
luxury of pacing themselves in their academic pursuit. According to the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, 2018) regulations for international
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students, ISCSs are required to maintain full-time student status to retain their legal
status in the US. Moreover, when the scholarships offered to students are time
restricted (usually within 2 years), it creates further financial burden if ISCSs prolong
the duration of their study. In addition, scholarships sometimes do not cover summer
classes, and international students’ tuition fees are higher in comparison to the
domestic students’ tuition fees (Hegarty, 2014). Moreover, international students are
often limited in finding job opportunities because employability is often restricted to
university campuses (Behl et al., 2017), making it increasingly difficult for ISCSs to
have financial freedom that could allow a comfortable pacing of their training.
Considering the political, economic, and social-systemic influences on the
operation of PreK–12 schools in the US (Lunenburg, 2010), one of the biggest
challenges ISCSs face with field experience is acculturative stress. Acculturation to
the U.S. culture has proven to be a significant source of stress for most international
students. Adjustment (McDowell et al., 2012), psychological and sociocultural (Hirai,
et al., 2015), and academic challenges (Hanassab & Tidewell, 2002) are among some
of the documented acculturative stresses. International counseling students are not
exempt from these identified acculturative stresses (Behl et al., 2017). However,
because PreK–12 schools are operated as social systems that have defined population,
goals, and expected interaction with the external environment (Norlin, 2009), it can
be stressful for ISCSs to navigate the various elements, including access to resources,
transformation processes, outputs, and feedback received from the external
community (Lunenburg, 2010).
ISCSs are obligated to understand the internal operations that affect the success
of all stakeholders within the school system. They need to acquire knowledge about
the cultural dynamics in the school system, and understand how the various
professional standards (not just ASCA standards and models but the current teaching
standards—e.g., Common Core) apply to the work they do with all stakeholders in
their assigned schools during their field experience. ISCSs have a responsibility to
provide counseling to U.S. school children at their field placement during practicum
and internship experiences, and are expected to collaborate with school stakeholders
whose culture they may not fully understand. Cultural competence requires
understanding and receptivity, which Nilsson (2007) has explained requires
“…knowledge about traditions, beliefs, values, and non-verbal norms, [and] is
fundamental to being able to empathize with clients’ feelings and experiences” (p.
36). Inherently, international students need time, exposure, and experience to
understand the American culture and school system.
A critical component that is generally considered mandatory and paramount to the
development of all students—domestic and ISCS— is supervision (ASCA, 2016;
CACREP, 2015). Bernard and Goodyear (1998) defined supervision as a professional
relationship between a more senior member of a profession to a more junior member
of the same profession, with the purpose of enhancing professional competence,
evaluation, and gatekeeping. In other words, the supervisor/supervisee relationship is
a formal interaction that ensures that the ISCS is appropriately monitored to guarantee
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no harm to their potential clients. When ISCSs begin field experience, supervision
also serves as an avenue to fill in the missing gaps; thus this is the period where they
apply the knowledge and harness skills gained in the classroom. However, given its
hierarchical and evaluative nature (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014), supervision in
isolation is insufficient to bridge the gap related to acculturative stress in ISCSs.
On the other hand, mentoring serves as an appropriate supplement to supervision.
Mentoring can be a formal or informal relationship where an experienced wellregarded individual provides guidance to another individual who seeks to develop on
a personal or professional level (Mellen & Murdoch-Eaton, 2015). In instances where
mentoring has been used and valued, peer mentors (Lee, 2017) or a more experienced
person have mentored the less experienced person (Ku, Lahman, Yeh, & Cheng,
2008). For instance, Yip (2014) described a mentoring program in Ohlone College,
where faculty and staff were invited and encouraged to be mentors to international
students in the college. Yip reported that on average, 20 to 25 mentors were involved
in the program each semester to provide support, encouragement, and most
importantly to help the international students adjust to a new environment. The
experiences shared by mentors and mentees indicated a mutual benefit (personal and
cultural development) for both parties.
In training ISCSs, mentoring seems appropriate, especially during the first-year
curriculum because it is free of evaluation. Mentoring can be made an integral part of
the ISCS curriculum to provide culturally sensitive transitions and understanding of
PreK–12 school systems. Most importantly, the use of mentoring before supervision
could be equated to some of Lev Vygotsky’s discussion of sociocultural learning
theory, specifically related to zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding
(John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996; Peer & McClendon, 2002; Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky
defined ZPD as the period in which an individual is capable of accomplishing a task
independently versus doing so with support. Within the ZPD is a critical component
of scaffolding, the act of providing developmentally appropriate support by a more
capable individual. As part of the support, the social environment is made conducive
for active learning and a gradual experience of independence to occur. With ISCSs
being new to the U.S. education system and culture, it seems mentoring as part of the
curriculum would offer the necessary scaffolding for them to adjust to the U.S.
education system and culture. This may also help the ISCSs to develop self-efficacy
as they gain confidence in their knowledge and abilities.
In the following sections, the author of this article describes two critical periods
when mentoring can be offered to the ISCSs: (a) prior to field experience, and (b) as
part of supervision during field experience. The author recommends that a more
experienced professional (a school counselor) should provide mentoring to the ISCSs.
Because consistency, continuity, and comfort are so critical to developing confidence
and productivity, it is further recommended that ISCSs maintain the same mentor and
site in both Part A (where ISCSs receive mentoring prior to field experience) and Part
B (where ISCSs receive mentoring as part of supervision during the field experience
phase). Both parties need to be in agreement of continuing the professional
relationship. If for some reason, the mentor in Part A is unable or unwilling to serve
as supervisor–mentor in Part B, it is recommended that the ISCS should be placed
with a school counselor within the same school district. Following the discussion of
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this culturally sensitive mentoring-supervision model is a simulated case presented to
illustrate how mentoring before and during supervision becomes helpful to ISCSs.
Part A: Mentoring Prior to Field Experience
For the purposes of mitigating acculturative stress, it is proposed that ISCSs
should be paired with practicing school counselors who will serve as mentors at the
onset of the ISCS school counseling education in the US. This initial mentoring prior
to supervision creates the avenue for ISCSs to establish trusting relationships with
knowledgeable and experienced school counselors who can serve in the role of a
guide and a teacher. Reese (2006) described the mentor–mentee relationship as the
former guiding the latter through the pathway of life. Unlike a faculty mentor, a
practicing school counselor can guide the ISCS by providing developmentally
appropriate exposure to the school system, and supplement the theoretical or
conceptual knowledge gained in the classroom. In the spirit of exposing the ISCS to
the U.S. PreK–12 school system, a peer mentor might not suffice because a peer
mentor may not have easy access to the knowledge that comes from practice.
Ideally, faculty members in school counseling programs should take on the
responsibility of contacting school counselors within close proximity to the university
and enlisting interest from school counselors who can and are willing to help the ISCS
understand and become familiar with the PreK–12 school system. It is essential that
the selected school and the school counselor are in close proximity as most ISCSs
may not have cars or the license to drive at the time of their enrollment. Additionally,
the faculty members need to make the arrangements on behalf of the ISCS because
the ISCS will not have access and may be unfamiliar with the local community.
Faculty members can also collaborate with the international students’ offices within
their institutions to offer a workshop that adequately prepares the selected school
counselor-mentors for their roles. Moreover, the ISCS should be given the courtesy
of making the decision to engage in the mentoring process. In essence, the mentoring
program should be an added resource which is highly encouraged, and not necessarily
a mandate.
Once both the school counselor and the ISCS have made contact they could
engage in activities including: (a) making arrangement about meeting schedules; (b)
creating opportunities to know each other; (c) educating ISCSs about the U.S. culture
and the PreK–12 school culture; (d) discussing the ISCS’s goals and aspirations; (e)
discussing roles and responsibilities; (f) finding commonalities in activities the
mentor and mentee can explore; and (g) developing a plan for the mentoring
activities. During this phase of their professional relationship, the mentor and mentee
can foster multicultural competence in each other. But most importantly, the ISCS is
provided a conducive environment to receive support, exposure, and encouragement.
The next section (Part B), is a discussion of mentoring as part of supervision for the
ISCS. It is worth mentioning that ISCS and supervisee are used interchangeably in
Part B.
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Part B: Mentoring as Part of Supervision during Field Experience
Supervision is an essential component of the ISCS’s development as a school
counselor in training (CACREP, 2015). Consequently, a suitable proposed
supervision model for this phase of ISCS development is the Discrimination Model
Reconceptualized (DM-R; Pillay, Fulton, & Robertson, 2015). The DM-R model
integrates mentoring into supervision, and can be applied to the school counseling
setting as a supportive measure for ISCSs during the field experience phase of the
training. In the DM-R, Pillay and his colleagues adapted Anderson and Shannon’s
(1988) mentoring model and integrated it into the Discrimination Model of
supervision (Bernard, 1979; Bernard & Goodyear, 2014). The DM-R supervision
model suggests that the onsite supervisor functions in six roles with three foci as a
supervisor-mentor, namely: teacher, counselor, consultant, sponsor, encourager, and
friend, with focus on conceptualization, intervention, and personalization to enhance
growth for the supervisee. This creates a pairing of 6 Roles × 3 Foci in the model.
During the conceptualization focus, the supervisor-mentor helps the supervisee
to understand and process the underlying issues that the clients present during the
counseling sessions. The supervisee is able to use that understanding to develop goals
and interventions that meet the clients’ needs. With intervention focus, the supervisormentor observes to ascertain how well the supervisee is applying the knowledge,
skills, and attitudes to cases within the school setting. Issues related to the
supervisee’s personal style and limitations are addressed in personalization.
Additionally, during the above-mentioned foci, the supervisor-mentor functions as a
teacher; thus, teaching some interventions or skills that may be necessary within the
school setting. As a counselor, the supervisor-mentor listens and provides appropriate
feedback that enhances growth and wellness for the supervisee. In some situations,
the supervisor-mentor may function as a consultant when the supervisee needs to
analyze and process issues presented in sessions. In befriending, the supervisormentor will provide unconditional positive regard for the ISCS. It is important to note
that the supervisor-mentor may need to use judgment in determining the extent of the
“friendship.” Ideally, the relationship should be built on mutual respect, ensuring
appropriate boundaries. Preferably, the author of this paper suggests the use of an
“ally” in place of a “friend.” Thus, as an ally, the supervisor-mentor will still provide
unconditional positive regard, but maintain a level of professional boundary. In the
role of a sponsor, the supervisor-mentor will support, advocate, promote, and protect
the supervisee. Finally, as an encourager, the supervisor-mentors will encourage selfefficacy and confidence through the empowering activities they engage in with ISCS.
Effective practice as suggested by Borders (2014) indicates that the supervisor
has the responsibility at the onset of the field experience to sign a contract with the
supervisee, outlining roles and responsibilities. The supervisor-mentor will engage in
a discussion with the ISCS about the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the
duration of the field experience. In addition, the supervisor-mentor will engage in the
following activities to make for a fluid transition from Part A to Part B of these
culturally sensitive mentoring and supervision measures: (a) assessing the ISCS’s
comfort level with expectations at various stages of the field experience; (b) setting
goals and aspirations with the ISCS; (c) providing support and constructive feedback;
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(d) teaching; (e) providing opportunities for growth and learning by allowing the
ISCS to participate or lead some school counseling activities; (f) continuing
discussions on cultural issues; (g) continuing to formulate working relationship; and
(h) providing counsel and consultation. The following simulated case study is
presented to show how the components of the DM-R can be applied to the case of
Nihan in Part A and B.
Part A: Mentoring Prior to Field Experience
Nihan, a 27-year-old Turkish student, is a first-year ISCS. She has a 2-year
scholarship from her government for her studies. Criteria for the scholarship include
conducting a thesis on a topic that relates to an issue predominant in schools in her
home country. Using strategies learned from being in the U.S. PreK–12 school
systems, she is required to make recommendations by developing a program that can
help resolve some of the school counseling–related problems in Turkey upon her
return home. Table 1 provides a description of six roles in the DM-R model to foster
Nihan’s and her mentor’s interaction.
Table 1: Applying the Mentoring Roles of the Discrimination Model–
Reconceptualized Prior to the Field Experience Phase
Mentoring How it applies to Nihan’s situation
Consulting Nihan indicates that she would like to explore aspects of
school counseling she can use to inform her thesis.
Mentor assists Nihan in identifying issues in Turkish
schools, and assists with exploring resources used in U.S.
schools that can be applied to the thesis project.
Teaching Nihan does not know how to begin. She needs input from
her mentor.
Mentor could discuss the American School Counsel
Association’s three domains with Nihan: academic, career,
and personal/social.
Counseling Nihan identifies that she would like to work on gender
disparity issues, mainly focusing on empowering girls to
pursue higher education. However, she struggles with her
confidence in adequately addressing this issue.
Mentor assists Nihan in reflecting on the strengths she has,
and helps Nihan to gain insight in her role as an advocate.
Nihan realizes another school counselor within her mentor’s
school district is running “an empowering girls program.”
She is interested in connecting with that school counselor.
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Mentoring How it applies to Nihan’s situation
Mentor invites Nihan to school and offers to connect her
with that other school counselor. The mentor offers to
attend some of the events with Nihan.
Sponsoring Nihan would like to engage in an action research by
replicating the “empowering girls’ project” at her mentor’s
The mentor provides encouragement, and helps Nihan to
put together a proposal for the project.
Encouraging Nihan and mentor meet during scheduled times as planned.
Throughout the year, the mentor checks in with Nihan and
provides encouragement for the development of the project.
Part B: Mentoring as Part of Supervision during Field Experience
Nihan has now started her practicum and internship. She has some understanding
about how the school system works, and has appreciation for the dynamics within the
school. She is currently seeing an 18 year old male high school senior who is not
interested in college, but wants to explore other options for his career path. Nihan,
reports that she does not know how to help this student. Her difficulty stems from her
value for education, and also realizing the potential the student possesses. Table 2
shows a description of the application of the DM-R mentoring and supervision model
in the case of Nihan.
Table 2: Applying Discrimination Model–Reconceptualized (Mentoring and
Supervision) During the Field Experience Phase
Teacher Counselor Consultant Mentor
Nihan wants to
assess the client’s
interest but
struggles with the
use of Holland’s
interest inventory.
discusses the use
of the interest
inventory and its
Nihan struggles
with challenging
the client’s views
and discrepancies
associated with
college education.
The supervisor
offers Nihan the
opportunity to say
what she would
wish to say to the
Nihan wants to
explore the use of
Adler’s early
recollection to
gain insight from
the client.
resources about
the use of early
Nihan wants to
learn more about
career counseling.
Supervisor looks
for professional
opportunities in
career counseling
to attend with
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Teacher Counselor Consultant Mentor
Nihan does not
explore other
factors that may
lead to client’s
refusal to attend
The supervisor
explains how
other factors,
such as home
conditions, could
inform the client’s
Nihan assesses
the client as being
defiant and
because of his
processes the
statements with
Nihan to help her
appreciate the
Nihan suggests
that she would
like to discuss the
client’s issues
with his parents.
Supervisor assists
Nihan in making
that decision
based on FERPA
Nihan feels
incompetent in
dealing with some
of the issues that
the student
The supervisor
provides support
by assuring Nihan
that cultural
differences take
time to get
adjusted to.
Nihan’s struggles
with being alone
with a male in a
reviews video
with Nihan and
addresses how
that may interfere
with working
Nihan’s difficulty
with the client
inhibits her
genuineness with
the client.
The supervisor
reflects her
feelings of
discomfort and
helps Nihan to
reflect on where
the discomfort
stems from.
Nihan realizes her
collectivist values
are getting in the
way of respecting
Supervisor helps
Nihan to process
the client’s
Supervisor wants
to help Nihan
reduce her
discomfort with
being in the same
room with males.
The supervisor
offers Nihan an
opportunity to
work with her and
other male staff
members on a
It is evident in the above simulated case that integrating mentoring in the ISCS
curriculum can be a developmentally and culturally appropriate strategy to acclimate
the ISCS. The two-phase mentoring added to supervision can be a suitable alternative
to the existing curricula. As shown in the case of Nihan, the importance of mentoring
provided by a school counselor to an international student at the pre–field experience
phase cannot be overemphasized. Moreover, the case study showed the essence of
mentoring and how the roles depicted in the DM-R are applicable to Nihan’s
situation. Part A showed the mentor’s roles as Nihan was provided support for a
critical component of the scholarship she received from the Turkish government.
Through the interaction with her mentor, Nihan received supplemental teaching on
the three ASCA domains, and their application to the task required for her
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scholarship. Nihan was exposed to practical strategies that she could explore during
her field experience phase. This access to the school system and observation of its
operations is free of evaluation and it is an essential element to building self-efficacy
in ISCS.
In Part B, the full DM-R model was implemented to show the various struggles
Nihan encountered, but with critical attention to Nihan’s developmental needs, as
well as her client’s needs. As a Turkish ISCS, we see Nihan experience typical
challenges that counselor trainees face at the initial phase of field placements
including cultural differences, relationship formation with clients, and feeling
incompetent (Park, Lee, & Wood, 2017). When the typical struggles and acculturation
challenges such as the clash of cultures conflated, we saw Nihan’s internal struggles
become pronounced. Nonetheless, the use of the DM–R model allowed the supervisor
to provide developmentally appropriate supervision and mentoring to scaffold
Nihan’s professional growth.
The purpose of this article was to bring attention to the expectations for a master’s
degree in school counseling, highlight the challenges that ISCSs often face in U.S.
school counseling training programs, and suggest measures that can facilitate learning
and enhance the transitions throughout various developmental stages for this
population. Research indicates that international students generally encounter a
disorientation because of exposure to new culture, teaching, and learning styles in the
host country (Leong, 2015). However, this disorientation increases when ISCSs have
an added stress that comes with engaging in apprenticeship in American school
systems. Considering the DM-R model as being an appropriate mix of mentoring and
supervision strategies, and the two-part simulated case study presented above, it
represents a more culturally sensitive way to ensure proper scaffolding for ISCS in
U.S. school counseling training programs.
Although supervision is a mandate from an accreditation perspective (CACREP,
2015), research is abundant showing supervision as a necessary supportive and
accountability measure for counselor trainees (Borders, Brown, & Purgason, 2015;
Meany-Walen, Davis-Gage, & Lindo, 2016; Ng & Smith, 2012). Literature about
ICSs and supervision also indicate that the supervisory working alliance actually
promotes self-efficacy, and that it is likely to reduce role ambiguity in this population
(Akkurt, Ng, & Kolbert, 2018). However, the argument presented in this article
suggests that, for ISCSs, supervision alone is insufficient. Mentoring, whether by site
supervisor, faculty, or peers, can be incredibly helpful to international students (Ku
et al., 2008; Lee, 2017; Pillay et al., 2015). Yet, in the case of ISCSs, mentoring
provided by a school counselor at the pre–field experience and as part of field
experience, has the potential to foster the development of a well-rounded professional
who may or may not remain in the US to work.
The case of Nihan is demonstrative of the potential implications mentoring, as
part of the DM-R, can have on ISCSs’ academic, person/social, and professional
development. Academically, we see the DM-R model implemented to reinforce
Nihan’s learning. The more experienced school counselor (the mentor/supervisor)
Journal of International Students
used her understanding of Nihan’s sociocultural background, as well as Nihan’s
personal and professional goals to facilitate growth. Through these interactions with
various stakeholders in the school system, Nihan had the opportunity to nurture her
social and networking repertoire. Although in Nihan’s case, there were clear
intentions of returning to her home country, there is evidence that in some cases, ICSs
do remain in the US as professionals (Karaman, Schmit, Ulus, & Oliver, 2018).
Therefore, it is incumbent on faculty and site supervisors to provide sufficient support
for personal adjustment and development of relevant skills in ISCSs. Whether they
remain in the US or return to their home countries, ISCS competency, self-efficacy,
and productivity, will be critical to the services they provide to their stakeholders.
Host universities, local communities, peer support, and faculty are critical
elements to the adjustment and success of international students (Leong, 2015;
Ramsay, Jones, & Barker, 2007). However, data on international versus domestic
counselor educators and supervisors is scarce in the literature. It can be argued that
most international students in school counseling programs will learn from and interact
with domestic rather than international educators and supervisors. Meeting the needs
of ISCSs promotes multicultural education for both the mentors and the mentees. In
addition, when an international student’s learning is promoted: (a) it increases access
to mental health for immigrants and international students in the host country; (b)
competently trained professionals can return to their home countries and facilitate
mental health to their citizens; and (c) ISCSs can make incredible contributions to
existing or nonexisting counseling programs in their home countries (Ng, 2006).
Specific to school counseling in the American school systems, the presence of ISCSs
is likely to help raise multicultural awareness in all stakeholders within the designated
Aside from the implications stated above, having international students can result
in the economic well-being and increased internationalization in American
universities (Hegarty, 2014). The American Council on Education (2012) reported
that 93% of doctoral, 84% of master’s, and 78% of baccalaureate universities have
increased their population in internationalization on their campuses in the past few
years. These percentages are likely to increase when international students experience
goodwill and share positive experiences with other potential students from their home
countries. Specifically, when ISCSs return to their home countries, they can speak
positively about the American school counselor education programs, and convince
potential ISCS to pursue similar career path.
Evidently, the idea of providing support to international students enrolled in
school counseling programs is directly related to program leadership in culture as it
addresses specific cultural needs of a population in school counseling programs. As
the counseling profession is constantly evolving, program coordinators, faculty
members, and community school counselors can take the initiative to provide support
for ISCSs by paying attention to diversity and multicultural needs. Mentoring and the
use of the DM-R serve as an appropriate model to promote effective teaching, make
practice relevant, and foster success for ISCSs. This model also seems to ensure that
the ISCSs’ adjustment needs are factored into the curriculum as part of a
developmentally appropriate practice.
Journal of International Students
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BRIDGET ASEMPAPA, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at
West Chester University of Pennsylvania, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Her
research interests include supervision models in school counseling, adjustment
challenges among international students in counselor education programs, integrated
care, and ethical issues in counseling. Email:

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