Exploring Youth Participatory Action Research in Urban Schools: Advancing Social Justice and Equity-Based Counseling Practices
Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is emerging as a group counseling practice that focuses on topics that are of personal interest to youth and aims to promote social change. Although YPAR has been found to facilitate critical consciousness, assist with youth self-identity development, and promote social change, few researchers have examined its application in counseling. The present study explored six school counselor trainees’ perceptions of YPAR as a therapeutic intervention and its impact on counseling skill development and how it relates to multicultural and social justice counseling competencies. The themes that resulted from the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis for YPAR as a counseling practice were: (1) fun, interactive, youth-centered approach, not like counseling or therapy, (2) implementation of challenges requiring planning, time, and commitment, (3) collaborative supports to step out of comfort zone, overcome initial hesitancy, and welcome new learning experience, (4) development of counseling skills and confidence as a counselor, and (5) understanding differences and increasing self-awareness and advocacy skills. Discussion and implications for school counseling practice are provided.
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