Expanding the Field of School-Based Family Counseling

Professor's commitment to global counseling resources grows after retirement

by School of Education

After 25 years of service to the University of San Francisco, Dr. Brian Gerrard, Associate Professor of Education in the Counseling Psychology Department, retired in spring 2015. Yet in the past year, his contributions to USF and his commitment to provide counseling resources for the global community, have continued to grow.

Moved by the tragic acts of hate and terrorism in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, and Lahore, Gerrard initiated a project to provide free counseling resources to these cities. The resources featured Disastershock: How to Cope with the Emotional Stress of a Disaster, a manual initially created by USF’s Center for Child & Family Development, and excerpts from School-Based Family Counseling: Transforming Family-School Relationships. Disastershock provides strategies for parents on how to lower their stress, and the stress of their children, following a disaster. The excerpts from School-Based Family Counseling provide descriptions of school-based interventions to help children cope with disasters. These resources were sent, free of charge, to over 20 international counseling providers in each city. Gerrard encouraged the providers to distribute the resources within their communities and granted permission for the materials to be copied.

Gerrard’s commitment to international counseling partnerships is further demonstrated through his work overseeing the Oxford Symposium in School-Based Family Counseling. This annual conference is a collaborative forum for school-based family practitioners, researchers, and theorists from across the world. Based in Oxford, United Kingdom, the symposium alternates between Oxford and other locations throughout the world in an effort to develop the field of school-based family counseling across cultures. The symposium is intentionally small in size, typically 15-20 people, to create a close-knit community and foster exchange of ideas. The most recent symposium took place in Oxford August 7-12, 2016 and brought together participants from South Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia.

Gerrard’s passion for providing accessible mental health resources to those most in need was a hallmark of his tenure at USF. Gerrard, along with Dr. Emily Girault, established the USF Center for Child and Family Development in 1983. For over 30 years, the Center has provided free or low-cost school-based family counseling to schools in the Bay Area that could not otherwise afford counseling staff. Since Gerrard’s retirement, the Center continues to provide exceptional counseling services under the leadership of Executive Director Dr. Judith Goodell and Program Director Kennith Lee. Gerrard’s work to expand the field of school-based family counseling both locally and globally continues through the exceptional services provided by the Center.