“I’m not being evasive but I am saying I’m not a scientist and I’m not directly involved in the consultation however the science must be sound, it must be agreed and the consultation must be of a high quality or no one will have any confidence in the process.”
Frank C Worrell’s (2007) article entitled, “Consultation in the Gifted-Education Arena: Old Wine in a New Skin” is an analysis of the meaning of the term consultation in the world of school counseling.
Worrell begins the article by giving a brief overview of the definition of consultation, types of consultation and goes into detail about the distinction between consultation and collaboration.
By using Caplan’s (1965) work entitled, “Opportunities for School Psychologists in the Primary Prevention of Mental Disorders in Children” as his backdrop, Worrell uses four articles on gifted and talented students as examples of the wide range of applicability the term consultation has in today’s consulting world.
Worrell argues that school consultation has grown beyond its original intent of being a resource for teachers, administrators and mentors into a position of direct service providers.
Worrell premises that this new definition of consultation can serve a positive role, but school service providers must have concrete parameters in order to actually understand what being a consultant entails.
“It is important to remember that consultation as it is defined in the literature has certain specific features. Therefore, simply labeling oneself as a consultant does not necessarily mean that one is engaging in consultation” (Worrell, 2007, p. 375).
Gerald Caplan (1963) in his article, “Types of Mental Health Consultation” gave us the original definition of consultations as:
A process of interaction between two professionals – the consultant, who is a specialist, and the consultee, who invokes the consultant’s help in a current work problem that he/she believes is within the consultant’s area of specialized competence.
The work problem involves managing or treating one or more of the consultee’s clients or planning and implementing a program to cater to the clients. Client is used to denote the layperson who is the focus of the consultee’s professional operations; the client could be a teacher’s study, a nurse or a physician’s patient, a clergyman’s congregant or a lawyer’s client.” (p.11)
Worrell argues that though Caplan was discussing mental health consultation by definition, it could be used by school consultants in interpreting their role and breaking their job description into three key distinct aspects:
- Consultation as a process
- It involves a triad (consultant, consultee and client)
- Consultant has a specialized expertise (Worrell, 2007).