Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Cynthia Topdemir, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Herbert Exum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tony Tan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.


Aggression, Alternative Education Programs, School Counselors


Despite efforts to reduce the occurrence of physical aggression in traditional school environments, some students persist in engaging in physical aggression and are assigned to alternative education programs as an alternative to expulsion. However, relatively little is known about the types of services that school counselors provide to help these students. This case study investigated the services that school counselors provide to the young children attending disciplinary alternative education programs in a public-school district in central Florida. The participants consist of two school counselors who provided services to the students assigned to the alternative disciplinary programs and two district-level administrators of the alternative programs.

The school counselors provided responsive services to meet the immediate needs of the students in the alternative programs. These included individual counseling, multi-tiered systems of support and crisis intervention. The counselors also provided interventions to teach students appropriate social skills, decision-making skills, responsibility, and self-regulation. In addition, the school counselors provided indirect services to students by collaborating with parents and stakeholders which include teachers, social workers, administrators, and community agencies.

This case study includes multiple sources of data: (a) face-to-face semi-structured interviews, (b) observations, (c), artifacts, (d) documents, (e) field notes, and (e) member checks. Nine descriptive categories emerged from the data analysis: (a) Reasons assigned, (b) Process of placement, (c) Counselors’ experience, (d) Services and interventions, (e) Assessments, (f) Theoretical orientation, (g) Barriers to providing services, (h) Counselors’ perceptions regarding outcomes, and (i) Counselors' recommendations for future practice. Surprisingly, the case study’s findings reveal that the school counselors believed that the services they provide do not meet the students’ needs.

This case study contributes to the body of knowledge about this under-researched population of counselors and under-served population of students by examining the unique experience of school counselors providing services to students who engage in physical aggression. Implications for further research, policy, and practice are presented.