A school counselor uses assessment, group or individual counseling, and mediation to assist students with academic, social, personal, and career development. School counselors often function as part of an educational team and help coordinate efforts that support a student's academic success.
The onset of the industrial revolution in the early 20th century created a demand for a well-trained workforce. As schools shifted their focus to address this need, teachers unofficially doubled as vocational counselors to help prepare graduates to enter the workforce. By 1917, legislation was in place to allocate federal funds for vocational guidance programs in schools. Over time, the role of the vocational counselor has continued to grow and expand to encompass the range of duties and responsibilities of today's school counselors.
How Does School Counseling Work?
School counselors administer aptitude tests that reveal a student's interests, abilities, and personality. Then, based on exam results, these professionals help students formulate realistic and achievable academic and career objectives.
School counseling also involves intervention and mediation. School counselors often possess the skills necessary to identify problems before they escalate and provide intervention, such as individual or group counseling.
In short, school counseling addresses academic, personal, and career challenges and formulates solutions for them. However, school counselors cannot offer diagnostic services like a licensed professional counselor would, nor can they write prescriptions.
What Are the Goals of School Counseling?
School counselors are uniquely qualified to address the academic, career, and social developmental needs of all students. Some programs offer areas of concentration that prepare graduates to work with students with special needs, students who come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and students whose home lives may involve drugs or psychological or physical abuse.
School counselors identify potential areas of academic difficulty by observing students and interacting with them
School counselors provide both direct and indirect services to students. Direct services include instruction, counseling (one-on-one or group sessions), and assessment and advisement. Indirect services include making referrals for services or designing programs for students with specific needs. School counselors identify potential areas of academic difficulty by observing students and interacting with them, administering different types of educational and psychological tests, and communicating with their teachers.
School counselors who work with older students guide them in terms of college choice, work options straight out of high school, and potential career opportunities after postsecondary education. They may conduct information sessions for students and their parents, invite practitioners in various professional fields to speak to the students, and create and coordinate shadowing, practicum, and training programs.
Finally, school counselors ensure students develop the social and personal skills they need to enter the workforce. They work closely with other stakeholders (teachers, school administrators, the school board, etc.) to provide every student with a safe, supportive learning environment where they can thrive socially and academically.
School Counseling Techniques
School counselors employ several techniques to help the students in their charge, such as individual and group counseling services; role playing; and expressive therapies such as art, music, movement, or drama therapy. Because school counselors can work with students from K-12, the services they provide depend on the type of students they serve and the kind of school where they work.
Elementary school counselors possess a background in child development and learning strategies. They help students develop their academic competencies and confidence by guiding them through the decision-making process and helping them formulate essential value systems. Elementary school counselors implement programs that help students develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed academically and socially.
the services school counselors provide depend on the type of students they serve and the kind of school where they work
Middle school counselors work with students maneuvering the complicated passage from childhood to adolescence. As they search for their own identities and come to rely more heavily on peers rather than their parents for guidance, middle school students require school counselors to acknowledge their journeys toward independence. Middle school counselors draw from their knowledge of adolescent development to design intervention, prevention, and education activities that help young adolescents develop healthy perspectives.
High school counselors work with students who stand on the threshold of adulthood and face a myriad of new issues: college admissions, career decisions, and financial responsibility. Additionally, the social and peer pressures faced by high school students can add to their need for clear and unbiased guidance. High school counselors assist teenagers in the transition to adulthood by clarifying their options, focusing their energies, and helping them envision their futures.
No matter what type of student school counselors work with, they need excellent listening skills, an acute power of observation, and a sincere desire to make a difference in the academic, professional, and personal journeys of the students entrusted to their care.School Counseling Techniques
Issues Treated by School Counseling
Today's school counselors face a much more complex set of responsibilities because the students with whom they work move in a more complicated academic, career, and social landscape. With that in mind, school counselors need to keep their skills sharp and their professional instincts well-honed so they can pick up on early signs of trouble on different fronts. They also need to keep a well-stocked toolkit of programs and intervention techniques so they can respond quickly to any type of crisis situation.
Finally, school counselors need to maintain open channels of communication with other stakeholders to make sure the services they render form part of a comprehensive, individualized educational plan f
Bullying is a constant and growing problem in many American schools. Modern technology has provided bullies with another forum: social media. School counselors first have to identify early signs of bullying before they can help the victims. This can sometimes be difficult, since most bullying victims are afraid to speak up for fear of further retaliation.
School counselors can help students develop stronger and more supportive social networks both in and out of school and build a victim's self-confidence in areas where they show strength or interest. Counselors can also confront a bully or bring disciplinary charges against them when a situation warrants it.
Issues at Home
Students grappling with family problems like divorce, unemployment leading to loss of income, or intense sibling rivalry often struggle with self-alienation, poor academic performance, or bursts of anger. School counselors can help these students through counseling or by referring them to a program or organization that addresses their specific situations.
School counselors can also help students develop a support network of peers and adults with whom they can associate academically or socially. Students dealing with serious home issues need to know that their struggles are not uncommon and people and community services exist for direct assistance or guidance.
Despite extensive social campaigns presenting its evils, drug and alcohol abuse remain major problems throughout the country. Young people are especially vulnerable, but substance abuse is a problem that people of all ages face, and its effects are often insidious and long-lasting. Some students begin a habit out of curiosity, while others succumb to peer pressure.
Seasoned school counselors can help these students through individual or group counseling sessions and by referring them to services for individuals or families.
Poor academic performance is perhaps the easiest difficulty to spot since its symptoms are clear. School counselors usually begin this process by testing students who underperform in school. If the tests reveal a student has a learning disability, school counselors can address the problem themselves or refer the student to a specialist.
Sometimes the reason behind a student's poor academic performance lies elsewhere, and it is the school counselor's job to find the source so they can address it accordingly. Many school counselors work with students and their teachers to craft a realistic and achievable educational plan.
Lack of Career Direction
Few young people know what career they want after high school or college. School counselors use several tools and techniques to help guide students in discovering their own strengths and professional interests. Psychological tests can reveal this information, of course, but school counselors also rely on personal interviews to come up with a well-defined and accurate career plan for each student.
A lack of career direction in a young student's life is to be expected, and it is the school counselor's job to make sure students realize this and help them move forward from there.
How to Become a School Counselor
Have you been wondering, "How long does it take to become a school counselor?" The answer is 6-8 years, because in almost all states, becoming a school counselor requires earning a master's degree after college. Furthermore, most states also require school counselors to be licensed or certified prior to beginning their practices.
Licensure generally includes the completion of an internship program and supervised training on top of a master's degree. Some states require licensure applicants to pass a comprehensive exam in addition to the requirements mentioned above. School counselors often have to enroll in continuing education programs or some other type of professional development training program to maintain their licenses.
- School Counseling Program Guide
- School Counseling Master's Degrees
- School Counseling Doctoral Degrees