The second article, “Professionalism, Diversity, Context and Collaboration in Gifted Education” by Matthews et al (2007) discusses the use of special education teachers as school-based resources for analyzing the programs created for gifted and talented students.
Worrell argues that in this example, not only were the consultants doing the work expressed in the first article but they were crossing the line into being collaborators by taking a vested interest in the outcome by meeting with students directly and within those meetings, making contributions to the outcome.
Crossing the Line
In his article, Matthews defined consultation as “as a mutually voluntary professional association based on reciprocity and respect” (Worrell, 2007, p. 380) which Worrell felt crossed the line into being a model of collaboration rather than consultation.
Ouyang and Conoley (2007) in their article, “Consultation about Gifted Hispanic Students” discuss the use of consultants broadening their job description by implementing and setting the agenda for consultation and in so doing, being advocates for change for the Hispanic students.
Worrell does not disagree with the assessment for the need for advocates to support minority gifted students, but he feels that this role is clearly beyond the traditional definition of a consultant’s role (Worrell, 2007).
In the last article, “A Counseling Perspective on Consultation to Giftedness by Peterson (2007),” Worrell suggests differences in opinion with Peterson’s suggestion that consultants can wear many different hats at the same time.
Peterson uses the example that consultants can be consulting with gifted students directly and with parents of gifted students “in sequence” playing the role of consultant and consultee at the same time.
Worrell argues that “consultation requires an actual consultant, that is, an expert who understands what consultation is and who chooses to engage in the consultation” (Worrell, 2007 p. 382).
Worrell also suggests that is would be highly unlikely that a consultant role would be properly functional by a school professional moving from the consultant role back to a teacher then moving to being a consultee and back again.
To Worrell, three of the four articles show misuse of the proper definition of a consultant’s role and in his mind, if consultation is to be taken seriously “cogent definitions must be developed and applied appropriately.”
It is in these examples where it needs to be clear what consultation is and is not, and what the differences are between consultation and collaboration, he believes. (Worrell, 2007, p. 383).
Worrell argues the position that he is not opposed to many of the different interpretations of consultation suggested by the writers of the articles. His concern is that all of us in the counseling field have a clear understanding of the proper role we all share in what is and isn’t consultation.
In many ways, Worrell suggests that this is an exciting time to rethink the definition of consultation “which brings consultation clearly into the realm of positive psychology, with its focus on promoting well-being and not just preventing illness” (Worrell, 2007, p. 383).
Worrell noted that although change and adaptation can be positive, it is very important to understand what having a title of consultant entails and how to engage in consultation.
Many of the scenarios lacked a consultation process, a classic consultation triad and confusion as to who was the consultant and the consultee.
Again, it is imperative to Worrell that we not only revisit the definition of consultation but have an understanding of the parameters of training, counseling, advocacy and what it entails for an individual to wear these hats and the definition of each one.
Worrell concludes with a special insight in the area of advocacy. He shares the need to pay particular attention for the large number of students not being served adequately within our school systems and the inequality of resources put forth to better their plight.
But what concerns Worrell is that “advocacy is an important activity that psychologists and education professionals engage in, but should this advocacy role be labeled consultation” (Worrell, 2007, p. 384)?
As more and more uses of consultation are found (not just trouble youth but gifted and talented) by individuals in the field, it will become even more important “to revisit the classic definitions of consultation as a basis for describing their practice and proposing changes to what should be classified as consultation” (Worrell, 2007, p. 384).