“Today, I Say It’s Mine!”: Professional Identity Construction among Jewish and Arab School Counselors Coping with CSA Disclosure in Israel

Dafna Zinn, Efrat Lusky-Weisrose*, Jordan Shaibe, Laura I. Sigad, Dafna Tener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

School counselors play a crucial role in preventing, disclosing, and intervening in child sexual abuse cases (CSA) and in maintaining safe and protected school environments. However, research on their experiences coping with CSA remains limited. The purpose of the present study was to describe and analyze the coping experiences of Israeli Jewish and Arab school counselors with CSA disclosure, particularly the consequences for their processes of professional identity construction (the ongoing process through which they develop and refine their sense of self in their profession). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 Israeli Jewish and Arab school counselors working in elementary schools (grades 1–6) with significant experience in coping with CSA. Two themes surfaced, reflecting the counselors’ professional identity construction: (1) Counselors’ professional identity transformation following encounters with CSA among their students; (2) Integrating professional knowledge, attitudes, and engagement behaviors into professional identity. The findings describe a trajectory of transformation and professional development among the counselors, beginning with defining and refining their professional roles and followed by the integration of professional knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors into their professional routines. Arab counselors also highlighted specific sociocultural challenges within this process, relating to the gap between cultural values and role expectations. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number424
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.

Keywords

  • child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • professional identity construction
  • school counseling
  • socio-cultural contexts

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