[ skip to content ]

ODU's Hays, Schwitzer Recognized for Their Research in Counseling Today Journal

Two faculty members from Old Dominion University's counseling program - Danica Hays and Alan "Woody" Schwitzer" - are among nine counselors across the country featured in the November 2009 issue of Counseling Today for their research.

The article by Lynne Shallcross, "On the cutting edge," begins: "Counselors across the country are heeding the call to conduct research, working not only to increase the knowledge base of the profession but also to improve society as a whole.

"Following their passions, they search for information that may hold the key to effectively confronting some of society's most vexing problems, from dating violence to school bullying."

The researchers featured in the story are members of the American Counseling Association (ACA), which publishes the journal Counseling Today. The article can be found at http://www.counseling.org/Publications/CounselingToday.aspx.

Hays, associate professor of counseling and the coordinator of ODU's graduate program in counseling, was featured for her research on domestic violence in adolescent and college relationships. She has studied intimate-partner violence since 2003, and recently has focused on adolescents and college students.

"With approximately 25 to 30 percent of adolescents experiencing unhealthy and abusive acts each year from a dating partner, we saw an opportunity to intervene with adolescents ages 12 and older and provide training materials to those who would be working with these adolescents," Hays says in the article.

An outgrowth of her studies was the Healthy Relationships Project, a service-research initiative that Hays started in December 2008. It includes an education component for adolescents, as well as training for mental health professionals. As part of the project, Hays partnered with a local Girl Scout troop, offering a series of workshops that address both healthy relationships and dating violence.

In the article, Hays notes, "One of my mentors in my doctoral program once said, 'Research is practice.' I've never forgotten that and try to conduct research that directly benefits clients along the way. Whether it's research intended to make someone a better practitioner by enhancing training and theory or aimed at direct client services, counselors are doing important work that needs to be empirically validated. We cannot separate the two."

Schwitzer, professor of counselor education and coordinator of the college counseling specialty at ODU, was featured in the Counseling Today article for his studies of college counseling and student affairs, which he has conducted for the past two decades.

Schwitzer's research looks at professionals who work at college and university counseling centers, mental health centers and health centers, and finding ways for them to be successful. He is also interested in helping professionals who work elsewhere on campuses, such as residence life offices and women's centers.

"Although college counselors tend to be more visible during crises such as the April 2007 tragedy on the Virginia Tech campus, they serve student mental health needs every day," Schwitzer says in the article. "An estimated 1.5 million students are served by college counseling centers on U.S. campuses each year. Even more are served by student development and student affairs professionals."

He and his colleagues recently conducted a series of studies on the experiences of girls and women with eating-related concerns, which resulted in a new diagnostic model for practitioners.

Schwitzer has also done research on first-year African American students at predominantly white universities. In the article, he states that he and his colleagues "were interested in why retention rates for African American students were problematically low and what we might need to know to better assist this population."

Both Hays and Schwitzer have been honored for their research. Earlier this year, Hays received the ACA's Counselor Educator Advocacy Award, which recognizes a counseling faculty member who fosters advocacy among counseling graduate students. Schwitzer received the ACA's Ralph M. Berdie Memorial Research Award for research and scholarship in the field of college student affairs.

William Graves, the dean of ODU's Darden College of Education, congratulated Hays and Schwitzer on their latest recognition, saying, "It is quite an honor for the Darden College and ODU to have two faculty members featured in Counseling Today for their research in counseling.

"I am delighted for them and the recognition this feature brings to them and their work. I am also grateful for the contributions their work brings to the field of counseling and the people counselors serve."

This article was posted on: November 3, 2009

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.