A School Counselor Consultant - Trish Hatch

Explore the career of one of school counseling's pre-eminent figures...

developmental psychology career profile
Trish Hatch , Ph.D.
CEO of Hatching Results
Director of School Counseling
at San Diego State University

People have been telling Trish Hatch to slow down for years - in fact, since she was a child - but that hasn't stopped her yet, especially when it comes to helping school counselors become effective and indispensable professional educators. Hatch describes her energy as having no limits.

"I don't really know where all my energy comes from," Hatch recently told School-Counselor.org, while traveling from San Diego to San Marcos, Calif., for a meeting with an elementary school.  "But I know that I'm a passionate advocate for school counseling, and maybe that's part of it."

After receiving her PhD in Education from the University of California, Riverside, in 2002, Hatch said she could have stayed in educational administration, moving up through the ranks into various roles such as superintendent, but instead she chose to craft her own, unique path in school counseling leadership. "It's in my bloodstream," Hatch said.

And it has been in her "bloodstream" for at least 20 years, Hatch said, but probably even longer considering her early exposure to the school counseling field. Working as a secretary for school counselors at a high school in her hometown of West Covina, Calif., Hatch's mother  would tell her daughter what a great job school counseling was and how she thought  [Hatch] had a talent for this career.

Even though she doesn't remember deciding then to become a school counselor, her mother's talks must have had some influence, Hatch recalled. After receiving her undergraduate degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1983,  Hatch had two small children, so she searched for a master's degree that she could complete in the evenings. She originally searched for a graduate program in clinical psychology, but there weren't any in her area, and none that allowed her to continue school in the evenings.

She started taking evening classes at California State University, San Bernardino, in  school counseling, and hasn't looked back since, finding her passion and accumulating an impressive number of honors, awards, publications, and local, state and national leadership positions. Before getting a second master's degree in educational administration, and eventually her doctorate, she worked for ten years as a school counselor for the Moreno Valley Unified School District in Moreno Valley, Calif.

Currently, Hatch is associate professor and director of the school counseling program at San Diego State University, and owner of Hatching Results, LLC, a firm that provides professional development and training for school counselors across the country, in addition to working as a consultant and program evaluator to school districts.

After talking only a short time with Hatch, one quickly realizes that there couldn't possibly be enough hours in the day for her to get everything done, yet she does, prompting others to ask about the source of her energy. In response, she consistently points to the importance of her work, and how it fires her passion.

"It's tremendously fulfilling to know that the impact you make on the planet is larger than the immediate impact on your small circle," she said.

The field has changed, and continues to change, and Hatch said she hopes to help direct those changes into ways that gather "social capital" for school counselors, which occurs when  principals recognize that their schools - and students - can't function without them. In other words, when administrators sit down at the table to discuss personnel decisions, principals support their counselors, saying that "because of the counselors, kids are behaving better and achieving better," and then the principal goes on to prove it with evidence and data.

Proving it, she said, means counselors showing, empirically, how their programs correlate with and improve student achievement, making the connection between healthy behaviors and improved learning. Or, on the flipside, demonstrating how disruptive behaviors that become  barriers to learning are alleviated through a school counselor's intervention.

The prevention and intervention programs designed and implemented by counselors are for the entire student body, not just at-risk students, or high achievers. By proactively working with all the children in a school, teaching them the right skills that lead to success, school counselors directly affect the entire school's academic success, Hatch said.  School counselors go into classrooms and teach guidance lessons on academic, career, and social development, including: study strategies, conflict resolution, respect, caring, responsibility and other standards that promote success and prevent behaviors from becoming learning barriers.

For those students that need extra work, school counselors provide intentional intervention, working with them one-on-one or in small groups to address work and study barriers, anger management or other socialization issues.

"We must emphasize that school counselors' roles in schools are not just to be counselors to kids because if we're just counselors and we don't align to student achievement and student success then we will be perceived as just ancillary mental health workers in schools instead of educators with specialized training in mental health issues," she said, the tenor of her voice elevating.

Hatch also is the current director of the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL), and is working on her third book, "Pilots, Passengers, Prisoners and Hijackers," a book that focuses on the challenges and obstacles that school counselors face in implementing proactive school counseling programs.

In 2003, Hatch had the privilege and opportunity to work with colleague Judy Bowers and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) on authoring a framework of guidelines that all school counselors can use to develop and maintain a comprehensive school counseling program based on data driven results. "The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counselors" provides practices and assessment tools for school counselors to employ.

Hatch credits the pioneering work of  Norman C. Gysbers of the University of Missouri, Columbia,  Clarence Johnson of Walden University, Sharon Johnson of California State University, Los Angeles and Robert Myrick of the University of Florida, Gainesville, as providing the foundation for the Model, her books and many publications. She also points to ASCA's pivotal work in providing school counselors with national standards, and the research supported by The Education Trust.

Research underpinning the Model and ongoing evidence-based studies in school counseling are beginning to gain traction among policymakers and educational professionals across the country, Hatch said. But there still is a lot of "educating" that must be conducted to inform all stakeholders of the critical connection between school counseling and education reform.

For Hatch, the time is right now for school counselors to implement the Model, and bring schools up-to-date with the changes taking place in school counseling, and that keeps her catching planes, delivering speeches and keynote addresses, attending meetings, teaching, writing, and providing the leadership for the field of school counseling. 

As she pulled into the parking lot of San Marcos elementary school, her voice returned to a lower, reflective level.  "It's profoundly reinforcing," she said, again referring to her work. One can't help but believe her.

If you also feel passionate about helping children learn to achieve, teaching children behaviors that lead to success in life, then you should consider master's degree in school counseling.

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