Existential Theory: Helping School Counselors Attend to Youth at Risk for Violence.

Recent incidences of extreme school violence have increased focus on school violence (Sprague & Walker, 2000; Vaughan, 1998). As a result, many researchers and practitioners in education, psychology, sociology, and counseling are working to identify possible causes (Dykeman, Daehlin, Doyle, & Flamer, 1996; Raywid & Oshiyama, 2000; Vaughan). Behavioral and social indicators are the most frequently identified and discussed issues surrounding school violence. Researchers suggest that aggression in children and adolescents can be associated with hyperactivity, locus of control, impulsivity, lower intelligence, family dynamics, poor social skills, or low socio-economic status (Dykeman, et al.; Straussner & Straussner, 1997; Warner, Weist, & Krulak, 1999) and physical or sexual abuse (Stetzner, 1999; Vaughan). The nature of these factors appear to suggest that violence occurs because there is a lack of something in the perpetrator’s life, factors that are often deep-rooted and unchangeable within the scope of school counseling. Therefore, school counselors who try to focus on these issues when working with youth at risk for violent behavior may find themselves frustrated and ineffective. Existentialism allows for the consideration of such abstruse emotional and social factors as being, meaning, freedom, choice, and anxiety. The purposes of this article are (a) to introduce the existential perspective as a viable theoretical framework for school counselors to utilize when addressing possible violent behavior in youth; and (b) to present a case study that introduces possible school counselor case conceptualization and interventions based in existential principles and designed to address the existential factors that appear to influence youth at risk for violent behavior. PHILOSOPHICAL ROOTS OF EXISTENTIAL THEORY

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