Global Perspective Domain of the International Model for School Counselors

Posted on May 17, 2011 in Featured Content, Reflections on Counseling

In 2008, Cheryl Brown and Brooke Fezler began a journey to create an International Model for School Counseling in close collaboration with Dr. Judy Bowers, co-author of the ASCA model, and ASCA (Brown, & Fezler, 2010). Perhaps like many counseling teams, at Yokohama International School (Y.I.S.) we adapt the ASCA model to work for our school population and organizational structure.

Koi Nobori in Shibuya May 6, 2011

As the project nears it’s initial release, with a preview launched at the AASSA conference last month in Campinas, Brazil, it comes as a welcome research based resource for international school counselors to utilize in our work. Before discussing the model more specifically I want to share an example of case study that is representative of one influential, albeit minority, pattern I have seen of students coming into the international school system. From there, I’ll focus on the International School Counseling model.


Tough Transition – Case Study

Paul (pseudonym), age 12, had never lived outside of his home culture before. In fact he had only moved house once and that was four years earlier when his father got his first big promotion and left the plant to go work at the corporate head office. They had had to drive 6 hours to get to their new home. Their new house was bigger and had a swimming pool but it had been a tough transition into his new school. Paul had never found learning easy and he felt his new school was harder than his old one. The teachers were nice and the other kids tried to be but he had trouble fitting in at first. His reading level wasn’t up to what they expected and his writing equally behind.

Maybe it was the stress of being behind his new classmates but, even back then, Paul had trouble making friends. Early on he had been invited for one or two play dates but each time it had ended when he started fighting with one of the other kids. Frustrated he just couldn’t seem to keep himself from saying something mean and then it just made him feel worse. The invitations to birthday and pool parties that had been so frequent after he first moved, stopped coming and it took him more than a year to make friends. Now his father got what he kept referring to as “his big break” and Paul learned he’d be moving to Yokohama, Japan.

The first day at his new school Paul met his teacher Mr. Davies, an easy going, mild mannered Australian who had a way of making students feel comfortable. In his homeroom there were 13 students. It was the smallest class he’d ever been in but students were from more than 8 countries and some students were from more than one. Sweden, Korea, America, Australia, Germany, England, Canada, New Zealand, India, China/Austria, Japan/America. When people asked him where he was from, he’d answer, “Pittsburg” but no one seemed to know where that was. “Which country?” they’d ask again. Surprised no knew where Pittsburg was he’d answer “America” and that people understood. Then they’d ask him which country he just came from and this confused him a bit. It seemed everyone had lived in at least 2 countries and one kid had lived in 5 by the time he was in Grade 7.

On the playground Paul made fun of one kid because he spoke broken English with a thick accent. He thought the other kids would laugh along with him and that he’d make a few friends but no one thought it was funny. In class students were working in pairs with different roles assigned to each as they put together a voicethread about the silk road. Mr. Davies told him that he wanted him just to sit and watch the other students. Mr. Davies said, “For this lesson, I don’t care how much you get done. What I want you to do is to sit here and just watch. Look at the other kids and then tell me 3 things you notice. Watch for 10 min then I’ll check back with you.”

After 10 minutes Mr Davies checked back with Paul and asked him to tell him 3 things that he saw. Paul told him that “people were just doing their work”.

“Nice one, what else?” asked Mr. Davies.

“People seem to respect one another’s ideas” answered Paul.

“Good, what else”, Mr Davies asked again.

“It looks like people are happy to work with basically anyone in the class.” Paul said.

“Those are good observations, Paul. I can see you were really paying attention. I don’t know what your last school was like but I wanted to help you figure this place out. You don’t need to put anyone else down to succeed here. You don’t need to act like you’re too cool to do your work. It may take you a little while to get it sorted but when you do you’ll probably find being open minded and respectful are two things that will help you just get on with it.”

Paul nodded, trying to look like he understood what Mr. Davies was talking about.

Global Perspective and International School Counseling

Paul was unprepared for the world beyond which he had experienced and his education had done little to prepare him for the diverse cultures of international education. From some of the novels he had read in English it is possible that he had some formal discussions about relationships but an English program can’t ensure that students develop the skills they need to in order to manage changing inter-cultural relationships. While students may change lab groups many times over the course of the year, the science program can’t be expected to teach students how to successfully transition in an out of diverse groups and communities. These skills should be, however, a focus of a comprehensive school counseling program. According to the draft-review copy, the Global Perspective Domain of the International Model for School Counselors (Fezler & Brown, 2011) is designed to help students develop the following:

understanding of culture as a social construct
awareness of their family culture and own cultural identity.
understanding of their host culture and home(s) country’s cultures.
personal practice for applying intercultural competence and bridging successfully across cultural differences.

These understandings and their sub-competencies and indicators serve to help students like Paul acknowledge the many ways of being and acting in the world that may or may not be based on similar assumptions and values. Had Paul had a more developed foundation in these areas, his transition from a national school in the US to an international school in Japan may have been assisted by an open mind, more developed observational skills, and greater flexibility to adapt to his surrounding context. The understandings that stand to be cultivated in the global perspective domain are undoubtedly highly relevant to international education and international school counseling.

It is in part due to the need for global perspective that the six globally oriented trans-disciplinary of the Primary Years Programme for the nearly 3000 International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Schools:

who we are
where we are in place and time
how we express ourselves
how the world works
how we organize ourselves
sharing the planet.

are engaged with in such a way that promotes attitudes of international-mindedness (IBO, 2011). Intercultural awareness is also a primary philosophical underpinning of the I.B. Middle Years Programme (IBO, 2010) and International Diploma Programme (IBO, 2011) and is an explicit emphasis within the curriculum as well as a natural outgrowth of the context of international education where schools like Y.I.S. have students and faculty from dozens of countries. While the Global Perspective Domain could add some degree of additional insight to further prepare international students for their already underway global journey, the students who stand to gain the most from it are the national students like Paul with a much more limited understanding of culture, cultural identity, and intercultural competence.

I fully support the development of an International Model of School Counseling and look forward to learning more about other domains. For current international students, I would offer that the most pressing needs include how to manage the frequency with which close friends leave, personal transitions in and out of different host cultures and schools, the complex development of identity in a transient international context (Moriizumi, 2011), and the importance of family as one of the more consistent elements of international mobility (Solomon, 1996). The development of global perspective, while an important daily part of life for international school students, is arguably an essential competency for anyone alive today and not one I would designate as unique to international school counseling. Furthermore, in that the IBO has already a well developed emphasis on international mindedness, as international school counselors, we should place our emphasis on teaching the skills that help address the issues that leave our students most vulnerable.- AC

Adam Clark is a school counselor at Yokohama International School in Yokohama, Japan. Find out more at


Brown, C, & Fezler, B. (2010). International model for school counselors fact sheet. International School Counselor Association.

Fezler, B, & Brown, C. (2011). Global perspective domain of the international model for school counselors. Proceedings of the 2011 aassa conference (pp. 1-13).

International Baccalaureate Organization, Diploma Programme. (2011). The diploma programme: from principles into practice. Cardiff, Wales: IBO.

International Baccalaureate Organization, Middle Years Programme. (2010). Coordinator’s handbook 2010/2011. Cardiff, Wales: IBO.

International Baccalaureate Organization, Primary Years Programme. (2011). Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education. Cardiff, Wales: IBO.

Moriizumi, S. (2011). Constructing Multifaceted Cultural Identity Theory: Beyond Dichotomization of Individualism-Collectivism. China Media Research, 7(2), 17-25. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Solomon, C. (1996). CEO mom: The tie that binds a global family. Personnel Journal, 75(3), 80. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Leave a Reply