ERIC Identifier: ED315701
Publication Date: 1990-00-00
Author: Sprik, Jeanette
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Counseling and Guidance Software. Highlights: An ERIC/CAPS
Computer-enhanced counseling programs offer exciting possibilities in this
age of the Information Revolution. While technology continues to leap forward,
research literature indicates a gap in resources addressing counselors'
computer-relevant needs (Walz & Bleuer, 1989). One critical need is for
information about counseling software that is appropriate to the needs of
clients and that performs as advertised.
To begin to address this need, the Counseling Software Guide (Walz &
Bleuer, 1989) was developed. The Guide is a collaborative product of two years
and three organizations that continue to provide significant leadership in
promoting the use of computers in counseling and human services: the
Career/Vocational Education and Guidance Department of the Santa Clara County,
California, Office of Education; the ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and
Personnel Services; and, the American Association for Counseling and
Development. The wealth of information contained in this 492-page major
reference includes: (l) general information about the use of computers in
counseling, (2) practical guidelines on what to look for in software, (3) an
overview of trends and developments in the availability and use of software, (4)
an overview of the range of software programs available on a particular topic,
and (5) information on specific software programs. The Guide includes these
other unique features: - Factual and up-to-date descriptions of over 500
counseling-relevant software programs. - A large number (93) of intensive
software reviews. - A thorough discussion of how far we have come in the use of
computers in counseling and what paths and options the future holds.
Resources in the Appendices include: a complete contact and program address
list, a program list with user level and computer compatibility, a software
evaluation checklist, and an index of reviewers and programs.
Software program topics include software for: (1) personal counseling, (2)
career counseling, (3) academic advising, (4) testing, and (5) administration.
CHARACTERISTICS OF IDEAL COUNSELING SOFTWARE
Some of the
most important characteristics of high quality programs include: 1. Detailed,
accurate advice about hardware requirements (e.g., capacity, printer support, type of monitor) and clear instructions on how to install and/or start the program. 2. Compatibility with both IBM PC and the Apple series of computers. 3. Trial use and/or rental options. 4. Frequent revisions and
updates provided at no, or minimal, cost to the purchaser. 5. Ability to complete the program, or at
least stand-alone segments of it, within a 50-minute time period. 6. Attractive graphics (images and colors). 7. Features that
capitalize on the interactive and user-involvement potential of the computer. 8. Ability to back up and change
answers and move between sections. 9. Option for printed feedback and the ability to save information. 10. Minimal consequences of errors.
GUIDELINES FOR SELECTING SOFTWARE
One of the many ideas
suggested in the Guide for selecting software is a simplified three-step process
called the SEP Approach (See, Evaluate, and Plan). See the software for a
cursory visual assessment to determine if further consideration is warranted;
Evaluate the purpose, usefulness, appeal, and cost of the program for your
clients; and Plan how the software can be incorporated into your program of
services. If the software passes the SEP test, a professional trial/assessment
of the contents is critical, with both counselors and clients.
Price generally parallels complexity and quality of programs; however, check
on the company's return policy. If possible, preview the product through
exhibitors at professional conventions. Consider also whether it is generative
(i.e., allows the client to expand their consciousness to trigger growth) or
limited and "canned." Will it enhance the quality of the counseling
relationship, or will it interfere with research-proven qualities of counseling
TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS
Research. As need and
implementation increase, further research will be needed on procedures and
outcomes. Many program topics (e.g., personal counseling) need further
development, matching technique with: (1) medium of presentation, (2) skills of
the counselor constructing the materials, (3) training of counselors using the
software, and (4) research on specific use of programs.
Quality. The extreme differences in both quality and potential effectiveness
demands that the user be alert. Quality factors to signal include theoretical
orientation, user manual and support, training needed, research, client
interaction, technical problems and which need careful scrutiny by the potential
Ethical Standards. The integration of computer technology into counseling
raises many potential problem areas and ethical issues. The revised AACD Ethical
Standards provides ten guidelines for acceptable professional training and
service delivery. Counselor educators and practicing counselors should examine
their "boundaries of competence" to use computer technology ethically in their
services to clients.
Innovations. A significant new development is the proliferation of software
programs that are easily understood (e.g., Hypercard, which allows the counselor
to focus on needs, not the program language). Voice activation programming will
further enhance the trend toward user-friendliness, and with wider acceptance,
the price will become more affordable.
Holistic, multidisciplinary computer applications will refine and interrelate
the current domains of self-reporting, performance, and psycho-physiological
measuring by the computer.
If counselors are to use computers effectively they will need a systematic
strategy and comprehensive model for implementing computer applications in
counseling and human development service delivery systems.
Progress toward interconnectivity, with all programs running on all machines,
makes startling improvements each year, but is yet to be fully realized.
Counselor generated programming is an important future step.
Counselors will creatively adapt marketed software to meet client needs.
Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) players and touch screens are looming
on the periphery of counseling software, and many counselors now have access to
the hardware necessary to run the programs.
Vertical markets (programs scaled for various levels of competencies) for
special groups (e.g., at-risk youth, adult career-changers, the outplaced) will
1. Greater attention will be paid to careful
and systematic planning for the use of computers in counseling. 2. Various counseling functions will become increasingly interrelated as a result of the use of computers. 3. Counselors will
increasingly demonstrate more imaginative and innovative uses of computers incounseling. 4. Counselors will make regular use of a centralized source of review and evaluation of counseling-relevant software. (Walz & Bleuer, 1989)
Counseling software programs have proliferated in
recent years. Many programs are now duplicative, having been developed largely
by technicians rather than counseling professionals. For example, more than a
dozen resume-writing programs are currently available. Since good software
programs are the result of a team effort, counselors, as users, should develop
program ideas with technical staff to produce quality and relevant software. Kid
Talk I, Career Finder, and College Finder are good examples of high quality
counselor-generated programs which are appropriate to the needs of clients.
Wise counselors of the future will feign neither superiority nor disinterest
in this age of the information revolution. They will, instead, proactively
develop technological expertise and appropriate content for counseling software
programs. Thus, they will contribute significantly to a broad repertoire of
"high tech, high touch" effective counseling services, and narrow the gap
between the potential of information technology, and available resources
addressing counselors' computer-relevant needs.
Bridges, M. (1987). Resources to find and
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Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (1983). The computer and the decider. The Counseling Psychologist, 11, 9-14.
Heppner, M. J., & Johnston, J. A. (1985). Computerized career guidance and information systems: Guidelines for selection. Journal of College Student Personnel, 26, 156-163.
Katz, M. R., & Shatkin, L. (1983). Characteristics of computer-assisted guidance. The Counseling Psychologist, 11(4), 15-31.
Maze, M. (1985). How much should a computerized guidance program cost? Journal of Career Development, 12, 157-160.
Maze, M. (1984). How to select a computerized guidance system. Journal of Counseling and Development, 63, 158-161.
Riesenberg, B. (1984). Considerations in the selection of a computerized guidance system. In C. S. Johnson (Ed.), Microcomputers and the school counselor (pp. 17-29). Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.
Walz, G. R. (1987). The present and the future use of computers by counselors. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 3(2), 4-7.
Walz, G. R., & Bleuer, J. C. (1989). Counseling software guide. Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.
Walz, G. R., & Bleuer, J. C. (1985). Putting the byte into career development. Journal of Career Development, 12(2), 187-198.