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School counselor

  A school counselor is a professional who works in primary (elementary and middle) schools or to provide academic, career, college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional competencies to all students through a school counseling program.

  The four main school counseling program interventions include school counseling curriculum classroom lessons and annual academic, career/college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional planning for every student; and group and individual counseling for some students. School counseling is an integral part of the education system in countries representing over half of the world’s population and in other countries it is emerging as a critical support for elementary, middle, and high school learning, post-secondary options, and social-emotional/mental health.

  In the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific, some countries with no formal school counseling programs use teachers or psychologists to do school counseling emphasizing career development.

  Countries vary in how a school counseling program and services are provided based on economics (funding for schools and school counseling programs), social capital (independent versus public schools), and school counselor certification and credentialing movements in education departments, professional associations, and local, state/province, and national legislation. School counseling is established in 62 countries and emerging in another seven.

  An international scoping project on school-based counseling showed school counseling is mandatory in 39 countries, 32 USA states, one Australian state, three German states, two countries in the United Kingdom, and three provinces in Canada. The largest accreditation body for Counselor Education/School Counseling programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). International Counselor Education programs are accredited through a CACREP affiliate, the International Registry of Counselor Education Programs (IRCEP).

  In some countries, school counseling is provided by school counseling specialists (for example, Botswana, China, Finland, Israel, Malta, Nigeria, Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, United States). In other cases, school counseling is provided by classroom teachers who either have such duties added to their typical teaching load or teach only a limited load that also includes school counseling activities (India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Zambia). The IAEVG focuses on career development with some international school counseling articles and conference presentations. Both the IAEVG and the Vanguard of Counsellors promote school counseling internationally.

  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the post-Soviet Psychologists of Armenia and the government developed the School Counselor position in Armenian Schools.

  While national policy supports school counseling, only one Australian state requires it. The school counselor-to-student ratio ranges from 1:850 in the Australian Capital Territory to 1:18,000 in Tasmania. School counselors play an integral part in the Australian schooling system; they provide support to teachers, parents, and students. Their roles include counseling students and assisting parents/guardians to make informed decisions about their child’s education for learning and behavioral issues. School counselors assist schools and parents/guardians in assessing disabilities and they collaborate with outside agencies to provide the best support for schools, teachers, students, and parents.

  Austria mandates school counseling at the high school level.

  The Bahamas mandate school counseling.

  Although not mandated, some school counseling occurs in schools and community centers in three regions of the country.

  Bhutan mandates a school counseling program for all schools. All schools have full-time school guidance counselors.

  Botswana mandates school counseling.

  School counselors in Brazil have large caseloads.

  The roots of school counseling stemmed from a response to the conditions created by the industrial revolution in the early 1900s. Originally, school counseling was often referred to as vocational guidance, where the goal of the profession was to help individuals find their path in a time where individuals previous ways of making a living had been displaced. As people moved towards industrialized cities, counseling was required to help students navigate these new vocations. With a great discrepancy between the rich and the poor, vocational counseling was initiated to help support disadvantaged students. After World War II, vocational guidance began to shift towards a new movement of counseling, which provided a theoretical backing. As the role of school counselors progressed into the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s there has become more uncertainty as to what the role entails. This role confusion continues into the 21st century, where there is a lack of clear consensus between counselors, other teachers, administration, students and parents on what school counselors should be prioritizing.

  Throughout Canada, the emerging trend among school counseling programs is to provide a comprehensive and cohesive approach. These programs address the personal, social, educational and career development of students. A comprehensive program consists of four components, including developmental school counseling classroom lessons, individual student planning, responsive services, and school and community support.

  Developmental School Counseling lessons involve small group and class presentations about valuable life skills, which is generally supported through classroom curriculum.
Individual student planning involves assessing students abilities, providing advice on goals and planning transitions to work and school.
Responsive services includes counseling with students, consulting with parents and teachers, and referrals to outside agencies.
Support from the school and community includes such things as professional development, community outreach and program management.
The process to become a school counselor varies drastically across each province, with some requiring a graduate level degree in counseling while others require a teaching certification or both. Some provinces also require registration with the relevant provincial College of Registered Psychotherapists. These differences highlight the vast range of expertise required within the role of a school counselor. Regardless of the professional requirements, all school counselors are expected to advise students within the realm of mental health support, course choices, special education and career planning. The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, Canada’s leading association for counseling and psychotherapy, is working towards alignment among the provinces through partnership and collaboration between provinces. Recent conferences share information on the differences and similarities within each province and how progress is being made to ensure proper regulations are in place at a national level.

  In the province of Ontario, Canada, school counselors are found in both elementary and secondary settings, to varying degrees. The Greater Toronto Area, the largest metropolis in the country, has school counselors in 31% of elementary schools, however the remainder of the province averages 6%. Additionally, the elementary schools that have a school counselor are scheduled for an average of 1.5 days per week. These counselors are generally classroom teachers for the remainder of the time. In secondary schools in Ontario, Canada, the average ratio of students to school counselors is 396:1. In 10% of Ontario schools, this average increases to 826:1. There is concern among administration that these staffing levels are not sufficient to meet the needs of students. This has been proven in recent articles appearing in the news featuring student stories of frustration as they prepare for graduation without the support they expected from school counselors. Considering the extensive expectations placed on school counselors, future research needs to address whether or not they can be met within one profession while effectively equipping students with support and information.

  School counselors reported in 2004 at a conference in Winnipeg on issues such as budget cuts, lack of clarity about school counselor roles, high student-to-school counselor ratios, especially in elementary schools, and how using a comprehensive school counseling model helped clarify school counselor roles with teachers and administrators and strengthened the profession. More than 15 years later, the profession is continuing to evolve and meet the changing needs of 21st century students in Canada.

  China has put substantial financial resources into school counseling with strong growth in urban areas but less than 1% of rural students receive it; China does not mandate school counseling.

  In China, Thomason & Qiong discussed the main influences on school counseling as Chinese philosophers Confucius and Lao-Tzu, who provided early models of child and adult development who influenced the work of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

  Only 15% of high school students are admitted to college in China, so entrance exams are fiercely competitive. Students entering university graduate at a rate of 99%. Much pressure is put on children and adolescents to study and attend college. This pressure is a central focus of school counseling in China. An additional stressor is that there are not enough places for students to attend college, and over one-third of college graduates cannot find jobs, so career and employment counseling and development are also central in school counseling.

  In China, there is a stigma related to social-emotional and mental health issues; therefore, even though most universities and many (urban) primary and secondary schools have school counselors, many students are reluctant to seek counseling for issues such as anxiety and depression. There is no national system of certifying school counselors. Most are trained in Western-developed cognitive methods including REBT, Rogerian, Family Systems, Behavior Modification, and Object Relations. School counselors also recommend Chinese methods such as qigong (deep breathing) and acupuncture, as well as music therapy. Chinese school counselors work within a traditional Chinese worldview of a community and family-based system that lessens the focus on the individual. In Hong Kong, Hui (2000) discussed work moving toward comprehensive school counseling programs and eliminating the older remediation-style model.

  Middle school students are a priority for school counseling services in China.

  Costa Rica mandates school counseling.

  School counseling is only available in certain schools.

  In 1991, Cyprus mandated school counseling with a goal of a 1:60 school counselor-to-student ratio and one full-time school counselor for every high school, but neither of these goals has been accomplished.

  The Czech Republic mandates school counseling.

  Denmark mandates school counseling.

  School counseling services are delivered by elementary school psychologists with a ratio of 1 school psychologist to every 3,080 students.

  School counseling is only available in certain schools.

  In Finland, legislation has been passed for a school counseling system. The Basic Education Act of 1998 stated that every student must receive school counseling services. All Finnish school counselors must have a teaching certificate, a master’s degree in a specific academic subject, and a specialized certificate in school counseling. Finland has a school counselor-to-student ratio of 1:245.

  France mandates school counseling in high schools.

  Gambia mandates school counseling.

  The school counselor-to-student ratio in Georgia is 1:615.

  Two German states require school counseling at all education levels; high school counseling is established in all states.

  Ghana mandates school counseling.

  There are provisions for academic and career counseling in middle and high schools but school counseling is not mandated. Social-emotional and mental-health counseling is done in community agencies. The National Guidance Resources Center in Greece was established by researchers at Athens University of Economics & Business (ASOEE) in 1993 under the leadership of Professor Emmanuel J. Yannakoudakis. The team received funding under the European Union (PETRA II Programme): The establishment of a national occupational guidance resources center in 1993–94. The team organized seminars and lectures to train the first career counselors in Greece in 1993. Further research projects at Athens University of Economics & Business were implemented as part of the European Union (LEONARDO Programme): a) A pilot project on the use of multimedia for career analysis, 1995–1999, b) guidance toward the future, 1995–1999, c) On the move to a guidance system, 1996-2001 and, d) Eurostage for guidance systems, 1996–1999.

  School counseling is present in high schools.

  Hong Kong mandates school counseling.

  Iceland mandates school counseling.

  In India, the Central Board of Secondary Education guidelines expect one school counselor appointed for every affiliated school, but this is less than 3% of all Indian students attending public schools.

  Indonesia mandates school counseling in middle and high school.

  Middle school students are the priority for school counseling in Iran. It is mandated in high schools but there are not enough school counselors particularly in rural areas.

  In Ireland, school counseling began in County Dublin in the 1960s and went countrywide in the 1970s. However, legislation in the early 1980s severely curtailed the movement due to budget constraints. The main organization for the school counseling profession is the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC), which has a code of ethics.

  In Israel, a 2005 study by Erhard & Harel of 600 elementary, middle, and high school counselors found that a third of school counselors were delivering primarily traditional individual counseling services, about a third were delivering preventive classroom counseling curriculum lessons, and a third were delivering both individual counseling services and school counseling curriculum lessons in a comprehensive developmental school counseling program. School counselor roles varied due to three elements: the school counselor’s personal preferences, school level, and the principal’s expectations. Erhard & Harel stated that the profession in Israel, like many other countries, is transforming from marginal and ancillary services to a comprehensive school counseling approach integral in the total school’s education program. In 2011–12, Israel had a school counselor-to-student ratio of 1:570.

  School counseling is not well developed in Italy.

  In Japan, school counseling is a recent phenomenon with school counselors being introduced in the mid-1990s and often part-time focused on behavioral issues. Middle school students are the priority for school counseling in Japan and it is mandated.

  Jordan mandates school counseling with 1,950 school counselors working in 2011–12.

  School counseling was introduced in Latvia in 1929 but disappeared in World War II.

  In Lebanon, the government sponsored the first training of school counselors for public elementary and middle schools in 1996. There are now school counselors in one-fifth of the elementary and middle schools in Lebanon but none in high schools. School counselors have been trained in delivering preventive, developmental, and remedial services. Private schools have some school counselors serving all grade levels but the focus is individual counseling and remedial. Challenges include regular violence and wartime strife, not enough resources, and a lack of a professional school counseling organization, assigned school counselors covering two or more schools, and only two school counseling graduate programs in the country. Last, for persons trained in Western models of school counseling, there are dangers of overlooking unique cultural and family aspects of Lebanese society.

  School counseling was introduced in 1931 but disappeared during World War II.

  Macau mandates school counseling.

  Malaysia mandates school counseling in middle and high school.

  In Malta, school counseling services began in 1968 in the Department of Education based on recommendations from a UNESCO consultant and used these titles: Education Officer, School Counsellor, and Guidance Teacher. Through the 1990s they included school counselor positions in primary and trade schools in addition to secondary schools. Guidance teachers are mandated at a 1:300 teacher to student ratio. Malta mandates school counseling.

  Nepal mandates school counseling.

  New Zealand mandates school counseling but since 1988 when education was decentralized, there has been a decline in the prevalence of school counselors and the quality and service delivery of school counseling.

  In Nigeria, school counseling began in 1959 in some high schools. It rarely exists at the elementary level. Where there are federally funded secondary schools, there are some professionally trained school counselors. However, in many cases, teachers function as career educators. School counselors often have teaching and other responsibilities that take time away from their school counseling tasks. The Counseling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) was formed in 1976 to promote the profession, but there is no code of ethics. However, a certification/licensure board has been formed. Aluede, Adomeh, & Afen-Akpaida (2004) discussed the over-reliance on textbooks from the US and the need for school counselors in Nigeria to take a whole-school approach, lessen individual approaches, and honor the traditional African world view valuing the family and community’s roles in decision-making as paramount for effective decision-making in schools.

  Norway mandates school counseling.

  There are some school counseling services at the high school level.

  The Philippines mandates school counseling in middle and high school. The Congress of the Philippines passed the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004 with a specific focus on Professional Practice, Ethics, National Certification, and the creation of a Regulatory Body, and specialists in school counseling are subject to this law.

  School counseling was introduced in 1918 but disappeared during World War II.

  Portugal mandates school counseling at the high school level.

  Romania mandates school counseling.

  School counseling focuses on trauma-based counseling. It focuses on academic performance, prevention, and intervention with HIV/AIDS, and establishing
peace-building clubs.

  School counseling is developing in Saudi Arabia. In 2010, 90% of high schools had some type of school counseling service.

  School counseling is available in certain schools.

  Singapore mandates school counseling.

  Slovakia mandates school counseling.

  In South Korea, school counselors must teach a subject besides counseling, but not all school counselors are appointed to counseling positions, even though Korean law requires school counselors in all middle and high schools.

  Spain provides school counseling at the high school level although it is unclear if mandated. There was around one counselor for every 1,000 primary and secondary (high school) students as of 2018.

  St. Kitts mandates school counseling.

  Sweden mandates school counseling. In Sweden, school counselors’ work was divided into two work groups in the 1970s. The work groups are called kurator and studie -och yrkesvägledare. They worked with communication methodology but the kurator’s work is more therapeutic, often psychological and social-emotional issues, and the studie-och yrkesvägledare’s work is future-focused with educational and career development. Studie- och yrkesvägledaren work in primary, secondary, adult education, higher education and various training centers and most have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Study and Career Guidance.

  School counseling is found at the high school level.

  School counseling has focused on trauma-based counseling of students. Prior to the war it was done in schools but it is now found in either a school club or refugee camp sponsored and staffed by UNICEF.

  In Taiwan, school counseling traditionally was done by guidance teachers. Recent advocacy by the Chinese Guidance and Counseling Association pushed for licensure for school counselors in Taiwan’s public schools. Prior to this time, the focus had been primarily individual and group counseling, play therapy, career counseling and development, and stress related to national university examinations.

  Tanzania mandates school counseling.

  The Thai government has put substantial funding into school counseling but does not mandate it.

  Trinidad and Tobago mandate school counseling.

  Turkey mandates school counseling and it is in all schools.

  Uganda mandates school counseling.

  There is some school counseling at the high-school level in the United Arab Emirates.

  School counseling originated in the UK to support underachieving students and involved specialist training for teachers. Head of Year (e.g., Head of Year 7, Head of Year 8, etc.) are school staff members, usually teachers, who oversee a year group within a secondary school. These Heads of Year ensure students within the year cohort behave properly within the school, but these Heads also support students in their social and emotional well-being and course and career planning options. Wales and Northern Ireland require school counseling.

  There has also been a huge leap forward in the United Kingdom within schools, where now professional trained counsellors are being employed to oversee mental health of children. Counsellors do need to be a member of an Accrediting Organisation such as the to gain the relevant credentials to work in schools.

  In the United States, the school counseling profession began with the vocational guidance movement in the early 20th century, now known as career development. Jesse B. Davis was the first to provide a systematic school counseling program focused on career development. In 1907, he became the principal of a high school and encouraged the school English teachers to use compositions and lessons to relate career interests, develop character, and avoid behavioral problems. Many others during this time focused on what is now called career development. For example, in 1908, , the “father of career counseling”, established the Bureau of Vocational Guidance to assist young people transition from school to work.

  From the 1920s to the 1930s, school counseling grew because of the rise of progressive education in schools. This movement emphasized personal, social, and moral development. Many schools reacted to this movement as anti-educational, saying that schools should teach only the fundamentals of education. Combined with the economic hardship of the Great Depression, both challenges led to a decline in school counseling. At the same time, the National Association for College Admission Counseling was established as the first professional association focused on counseling and advising high school students into college. In the early 1940s, the school counseling movement was influenced by the need for counselors to help assess students for wartime needs. At the same time, researcher Carl Rogers emphasized the power of non-directive helping relationships and counseling for all ages and the profession of counseling was influenced to shift from directive “guidance” to non-directive or person-centered “counseling” as the basis for school counseling.

  In the 1950s the government established the Guidance and Personnel Services Section in the Division of State and Local School Systems. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched . Out of concern that the Russians were winning the space race and that there were not enough and , the government passed the National Defense Education Act, spurring growth in and career counseling through larger funding. In the 1950s the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) was founded as one of the early divisions of what is now known as the American Counseling Association (ACA).

  In the 1960s, new legislation and professional developments refined the school counseling profession (Schmidt, 2003). The 1960s continued large amounts of federal funding for land-grant colleges and universities to establish Counselor Education master’s and doctoral programs. School counseling shifted from a primary focus on career development to adding social-emotional issues paralleling the rise of social justice and civil rights movements. In the early 1970s, Dr. Norm Gysbers’s research and advocacy helped the profession shift from school counselors as solitary professionals focused on individual academic, career, and social-emotional student issues to a comprehensive developmental school counseling program for all students K-12 that included individual and group counseling for some students and classroom lessons and annual advising/planning and activities for every student. He and his colleagues’ research evidenced strong correlations between fully implemented school counseling programs and student academic success; a critical part of the evidence base for the school counseling profession was their work in Missouri. Dr. Chris Sink & associates showed similar evidence-based success for school counseling programs at the elementary and middle school levels in Washington State.

  School counseling in the 1980s and early 1990s was not influenced by corporate educational reform efforts. The profession had little evidence of systemic effectiveness for school counselors and only correlational evidence of the effectiveness of school counseling programs. In response, Campbell & Dahir consulted with elementary, middle, and high school counselors and created the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Student Standards with three core domains (Academic, Career, Personal/Social), nine standards, and specific competencies and indicators for K-12 students. There was no research base, however, for school counseling standards as an effective educational reform strategy. A year later, Whiston & Sexton published the first systemic meta-analysis of school counseling outcome research in academic, career, and personal/social domains and individual counseling, group counseling, classroom lessons, and parent/guardian workshop effectiveness.

  In the late 1990s, former mathematics teacher, school counselor, and administrator Pat Martin, was hired by corporate-funded educational reform group, the Education Trust, to focus the school counseling profession on equity issues by helping close achievement and opportunity gaps harming children and adolescents of color, poor and working class children and adolescents, bilingual children and adolescents, and children and adolescents with disabilities. Martin, under considerable heat from Counselor Educators who were not open to her equity-focused message of change, developed focus groups of K-12 students, parents, guardians, teachers, building leaders, and superintendents, and interviewed professors of School Counselor Education. She hired Oregon State University School Counselor Education professor emeritus Dr. Reese House, and after several years of work in the late 1990s they created, in 2003, the National Center for Transforming School Counseling (NCTSC).

  The NCTSC focused on changing school counselor education at the graduate level and changing school counselor practice in state and local districts to teach school counselors how to help recognize, prevent, and close achievement and opportunity gaps. In their initial focus groups, they found what Hart & Jacobi had indicated years earlier—too many school counselors were gatekeepers for the status quo instead of advocates for the academic success of every child and adolescent. Too many school counselors used inequitable practices, supported inequitable school policies, and were unwilling to change.

  This professional behavior kept many students from non-dominant backgrounds (i.e., students of color, poor and working class students, students with disabilities, and bilingual students) from receiving challenging coursework (AP, IB, and honors classes) and academic, career, and college access/affordability/admission skills needed to successfully graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary options including college. In 1998, the Education Trust received a grant from the DeWitt Wallace/Reader’s Digest to fund six $500,000 grants for Counselor Education/School Counseling programs, with a focus on rural and urban settings, to transform School Counselor Education programs to teach advocacy, leadership, teaming and collaboration, equity assessment using data, and culturally competent program counseling and coordination skills in addition to counseling: Indiana State University, the University of Georgia, the University of West Georgia, the University of California-Northridge, the University of North Florida, and, the Ohio State University were the recipients. Over 25 additional Counselor Education/School Counseling programs nationwide became companion institutions in the following decade with average grants of $3000. By 2008, NCTSC consultants had worked in over 100 school districts and major cities and rural areas to transform the work of school counselors nationwide.

  In 2002, the American School Counselor Association released Dr. Trish Hatch and Dr. Judy Bowers’ work: the ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs comprising key school counseling components: ASCA National Standards, and the skill-based focus for closing achievement and opportunity gaps from the Education Trust’s new vision of school counseling into one document. The model drew from major theoreticians in school counseling with four key areas: Foundation (school counseling program mission statements, vision, statements, belief statements, and annual goals); Delivery (direct services including individual and group counseling; classroom counseling lessons; planning and advising for all students); Management (use of action plans and results reports for closing gaps, small group work and classroom lessons; a school counseling program assessment, an administrator-school counselor annual agreement, a time-tracker tool, and a school counseling data tool; and Accountability (school counselor annual evaluation and use of a School Counseling Program Advisory Council to monitor data, outcomes, and effectiveness). In 2003, Dr. Jay Carey and Dr. Carey Dimmitt created the Center for School Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation (CSCORE) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst as a clearinghouse for evidence-based practice with regular research briefs, original research projects, and eventual co-sponsorship of the annual Evidence-Based School Counseling conference in 2013.

  In 2004, the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors was revised to focus on issues of equity, closing achievement and opportunity gaps, and ensuring all K-12 students received access to a school counseling program. Also in 2004, an equity-focused entity on school counselors’ role in college readiness and admission counseling, the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) emerged at the College Board led by Pat Martin and Dr. Vivian Lee. NOSCA developed scholarships for research on college counseling by K-12 school counselors taught in School Counselor Education programs.

  In 2008, the first NOSCA study was released by Dr. Jay Carey and colleagues focused on innovations in selected College Board “Inspiration Award” schools where school counselors collaborated inside and outside their schools for high college-going rates and strong college-going cultures in schools with large numbers of students of non-dominant backgrounds. In 2008, ASCA released School Counseling Competencies focused on assisting school counseling programs to effectively implement the ASCA National Model.

  In 2010, the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCAL) at San Diego State University co-sponsored the first of four school counselor and educator conferences devoted to the needs of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students in San Diego, California. ASCA published a 5th edition of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors.

  In 2011, Counseling at the Crossroads: The perspectives and promise of school counselors in American education, the largest survey of high school and middle school counselors in the United States with over 5,300 interviews, was released by Pat Martin and Dr. Vivian Lee by the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the American School Counselor Association. The study shared school counselors’ views on educational policies, practices, and reform, and how many of them, especially in urban and rural school settings, were not given the chance to focus on what they were trained to do, especially career and college access and readiness counseling for all students, in part due to high caseloads and inappropriate tasks.

  School counselors suggested changes in their role to be accountable for success of all students and how school systems needed to change so school counselors could be key advocates and leaders for every student’s success. Implications for public policy and district and school-wide change were addressed. The National Center for Transforming School Counseling released a brief, Poised to Lead: How School Counselors Can Drive Career and College Readiness, challenging all schools to utilize school counselors for equity and access for challenging coursework (AP, IB, honors) for all students and ensuring college and career access skills and competencies as a major focus for school counselors K-12.

  In 2012, CSCORE assisted in evaluating and publishing six statewide research studies assessing the effectiveness of school counseling programs based on statewide systemic use of school counseling programs such as the ASCA National Model and published their outcomes in the American School Counselor Association research journal Professional School Counseling. Research indicated strong correlational evidence between fully implemented school counseling programs and low school counselor-to-student ratios provided better student academic success, greater career and college access/readiness/admission, and reduced social-emotional issue concerns included better school safety, reduced disciplinary issues, and better attendance.

  Also in 2012, the American School Counselor Association released the third edition of the ASCA National Model.

  From 2014–16, the White House, under the Office of the First Lady Michelle Obama, partnered with key school counselor educators and college access professionals nationwide to focus on the roles of school counselors and college access professionals. Their collaboration resulted in a series of national Reach Higher/School Counseling and College Access convenings at Harvard University, San Diego State University, the University of North Florida, and American University. Michelle Obama and her staff also began the Reach Higher and Better Make Room programs to focus on college access for underrepresented students, and she began hosting the American School Counselor Association’s School Counselor of the Year awards ceremony at the White House. The initiatives culminated in an unprecedented collaboration among multiple major professional associations focused on school counseling and college access including the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the College Board, and ACT raising the profile and prominence of the role of school counselors collaborating on college access, affordability, and admission for all students.

  In 2015, ASCA replaced the ASCA National Student Standards with the evidence-based ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College and Career Readiness Standards for Every Student, created from meta-analyses done by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Educational Reform showing key components of raising student academic success over multiple well-designed research studies. While an improvement over the lack of research in the ASCA student standards that they replaced, school counselors shared feedback that they do not go into enough depth for career, college access/admission/affordability, and social-emotional competencies.

  In 2016, ASCA published a newly revised sixth version of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors using two rounds of feedback from practicing school counselors in all 50 states; it also included, for the first time, a Glossary of ethical terms for heightened clarity.

  In 2019, ASCA released the 4th edition of the ASCA National Model, a Framework for School Counseling Programs. Changes included fewer templates and combined templates from the 3rd edition after school counselor feedback that the 3rd edition had become too complex and onerous. The four outside-the-diamond skills from the first three editions: advocacy, leadership, teaming and collaboration, and systemic change were incorporated throughout the model and no longer part of the diamond graphic organizer. The four quadrants of the model were changed to verbs and action-oriented words to better clarify the key components:

  1. Define (formerly Foundation)

  2. Deliver (formerly Delivery System)

  3. Manage (formerly Management System)

  4. Assess (formerly Accountability System).

  The three types of data collected by school counselors in school counseling programs have shifted in name to:

  1. Participation data (formerly process)

  2. Mindsets & Behaviors data (formerly perception, i.e., learning)

  3. Outcome data (results)

  The 4th edition, while easier to read and use than prior editions, did not cover the history of how the model changed over time and neglected any mention of the original authors, Drs. Trish Hatch and Judy Bowers.

  School counseling is mandated in Venezuela and it has focused on cultural competency.

  School counseling is mandated in Vietnam.

  Professional school counselors ideally implement a school counseling program that promotes and enhances student achievement (Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005; ASCA, 2012).
A framework for appropriate and inappropriate school counselor responsibilities and roles is outlined in the ASCA National Model (Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005; ASCA, 2012). School counselors, in USA states, have a master’s degree in school counseling from a Counselor Education graduate program. China requires at least three years of college experience. In Japan, school counselors were added in the mid-1990s, part-time, primarily focused on behavioral issues. In Taiwan, they are often teachers with recent legislation requiring school counseling licensure focused on individual and group counseling for academic, career, and personal issues. In Korea, school counselors are mandated in middle and high schools.

  School counselors are employed in elementary, middle, and high schools, in district supervisory settings, in Counselor Education faculty positions (usually with an earned Ph.D. in Counselor Education in the USA or related graduate doctorates abroad), and post-secondary settings doing academic, career, college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional counseling, consultation, and program coordination. Their work includes a focus on developmental stages of student growth, including the needs, tasks, and student interests related to those stages (Schmidt, 2003).

  Professional school counselors meet the needs of student in three basic domains: academic development, career development and college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional development (Dahir & Campbell, 1997; Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005; ASCA, 2012). Knowledge, understanding and skill in these domains are developed through classroom , appraisal, , counseling, , and collaboration. For example, in appraisal, school counselors may use a variety of and career assessment methods (such as the Self-Directed Search [SDS] or Career Key [based on the Holland Codes]) to help students explore career and college needs and interests.

  Schools play a key role in assessment, access to services, and possible referral to appropriate outside support systems. They provide intervention, prevention, and services to support students’ academic, career, and post-secondary education as well as social-emotional growth. The role of school counselors is expansive. School counselors address mental health issues, crisis intervention, and advising for course selection. School counselors consult with all stakeholders to support student needs and may also focus on experiential learning, cooperative education, internships, career shadowing, and entrance to specialized high school programs.

  School counselor interventions include individual and group counseling for some students. For example, if a student’s behavior is interfering with his or her achievement, the school counselor may observe that student in a class, provide consultation to teachers and other stakeholders to develop (with the student) a plan to address the behavioral issue(s), and then collaborate to implement and evaluate the plan. They also provide consultation services to family members such as college access/affordability/admission, career development, parenting skills, study skills, child and adolescent development, mental health issues, and help with school-home transitions.

  School counselor interventions for all students include annual academic/career/college access/affordability/admission planning K-12 and leading classroom developmental lessons on academic, career/college, and social-emotional topics. The topics of mental health, multiculturalism (Portman, 2009), anti-racism, and school safety are important areas of focus for school counselors. Often school counselors will coordinate outside groups to help with student needs such as academics, or coordinate a program that teaches about child abuse or drugs, through on-stage drama (Schmidt, 2003).

  School counselors develop, implement, and evaluate school counseling programs that deliver academic, career, college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional competencies to all students in their schools. For example, the ASCA National Model (Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005; ASCA, 2012) includes the following four main areas:

  Foundation (Define as of 2019) – a school counseling program mission statement, a vision statement, a beliefs statement, SMART Goals; ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors & ASCA Code of Ethics;
Delivery System (Deliver as of 2019) – how school counseling core curriculum lessons, planning for every student, and individual and group counseling are delivered in direct and indirect services to students (80% of school counselor time);
Management System (Manage as of 2019) – calendars; use of data tool; use of time tool; administrator-school counselor agreement; school counseling program advisory council; small group, school counseling core curriculum, and closing the gap action plans; and
Accountability System (Assess as of 2019) – school counseling program assessment; small group, school counseling core curriculum, and closing-the-gap results reports; and school counselor performance evaluations based on school counselor competencies.
The school counseling program model (ASCA, 2012, 2019) is implemented using key skills from the National Center for Transforming School Counseling’s Transforming School Counseling Initiative: Advocacy, Leadership, Teaming and Collaboration, and Systemic Change.

  Many provinces in Canada offer a career pathway program, which helps to prepare students for the employment market and support a smooth school-to-work transition.

  School Counselors are expected to follow a professional code of ethics in many countries. For example, In the US, they are the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) School Counselor Ethical Code, the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP).

  Some school counselors experience role confusion, given the many tasks they are expected to perform. The demands on the school counselor to be a generalist who performs roles in leadership, advocacy, essential services, and curriculum development can be too much if there is not a clear mission, vision, and comprehensive school counseling program in place. Additionally, some school counselors are stretched too thin to provide mental health support on top of their other duties.

  The role of a school counselor is critical and needs to be supported by all stakeholders to ensure equity and access for all students, particularly those with the fewest resources. The roles of school counselors are expanding and changing with time As roles change, school counselors help students prosper in academics, career, post-secondary, and social-emotional domains. School counselors reduce and bridge the inequalities facing students in educational systems.

  School counselors around the world are affiliated with various national and regional school counseling associations, and abide by their guidelines. These associations include:

  African Counseling Association (AfCA)
Asociacion Argentina de Counselors (AAC-Argentina)
Associacao Portuguesa de Psicoterapia centrada na Pessoa e de Counselling (APPCPC-Portugal)
Australian Guidance and Counselling Association (AGCA)
Hong Kong Association of Guidance Masters and Career Masters (HKAGMCM)
Cypriot Association of School Guidance Counsellors (OELMEK)
European Counseling Association (ECA)
France Ministry of Education
Hellenic Society of Counselling and Guidance (HESCOG-Greece)
International Baccalaureate (IB)
(ISPC)
International Vanguard of Counsellors (IVC)
International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG)
Association Internationale d’Orientation Scolaire et Professionnelle (AIOSP)
Internationale Vereinigung für Schul- und Berufsberatung (IVSBB)
Asociación Internacional para la Orientación Educativa y Profesional (AIOEP)
Institute of Guidance Counselors (IGC) (Ireland)
Kenya Association of Professional Counselors (KAPC)
Department of Education-Malta
New Zealand Association of Counsellors/Te Roopu Kaiwhiriwhiri o Aotearoa (NZAC)
Counseling Association of Nigeria (CASSON)
Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PGCA)
Counseling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)
Singapore Association for Counseling (SAC)
Federación Española de Orientación y Psicopedagogía (FEOP-Spain)
The Taiwan Guidance and Counseling Association (TGCA)
Counselling Children and Young People (BACP affiliate, UK)
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP-UK)
American Counseling Association (ACA-USA)
American School Counselor Association (ASCA-USA)
Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL) (USA)
Center for School Counseling Outcome Research (CSCOR-USA) Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP-USA and international)
National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC, USA)
National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) at The College Board (USA)
National Center for Transforming School Counseling (NCTSC) at The Education Trust (USA)
Overseas Association of College Admissions Counselors (OACAC an affiliate of National Association of College Admissions Counselors-USA)
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association – National School Counsellors Chapter (CPPA)
Newfoundland and Labrador Counsellors’ and Psychologists’ Association
PEI Counselling Association
British Columbia School Counsellors
Guidance Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association
Ontario School Counsellors’ Association
Nova Scotia School Counsellors Association

counselors provide academic, career, college access, and personal and social competencies and planning to all students, and individual and group counseling for some students and their families to meet the developmental needs of young children K-6. Transitions from pre-school to elementary school and from elementary school to middle school are an important focus for elementary school counselors. Increased emphasis is placed on accountability for helping close achievement and opportunity gaps at the elementary level as more school counseling programs move to evidence-based work with data and specific results.

  School counseling programs that deliver specific competencies to all students help to close achievement and opportunity gaps. To facilitate individual and group school counseling interventions, school counselors use developmental, cognitive-behavioral, person-centered (Rogerian) listening and influencing skills, systemic, family, multicultural, narrative, and play therapy theories and techniques. Sink & Stroh (2003) released a research study showing the effectiveness of elementary school counseling programs in Washington state.

  Middle school counselors provide school counseling curriculum lessons on academic, career, college access, and personal and social competencies, advising and academic/career/college access planning to all students and individual and group counseling for some students and their families to meet the needs of older children/early adolescents in grades 7 and 8.

  Middle School College Access curricula have been developed to assist students and their families before reaching high school. To facilitate the school counseling process, school counselors use theories and techniques including developmental, cognitive-behavioral, person-centered (Rogerian) listening and influencing skills, systemic, family, multicultural, narrative, and play therapy. Transitional issues to ensure successful transitions to high school are a key area including career exploration and assessment with seventh and eighth grade students. Sink, Akos, Turnbull, & Mvududu released a study in 2008 confirming the effectiveness of middle school comprehensive school counseling programs in Washington state.

  counselors provide academic, career, college access, and personal and social competencies with developmental classroom lessons and planning to all students, and individual and group counseling for some students and their families to meet the developmental needs of adolescents (Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005, 2012). Emphasis is on college access counseling at the early high school level as more school counseling programs move to evidence-based work with data and specific results that show how school counseling programs help to close achievement, opportunity, and attainment gaps ensuring all students have access to school counseling programs and early college access/affordability/admission activities. The breadth of demands high school counselors face, from educational attainment (high school graduation and some students’ preparation for careers and college) to student social and mental health, has led to ambiguous role definition. Summarizing a 2011 national survey of more than 5,330 middle school and high school counselors, researchers argued: “Despite the aspirations of counselors to effectively help students succeed in school and fulfill their dreams, the mission and roles of counselors in the education system must be more clearly defined; schools must create measures of accountability to track their effectiveness; and policymakers and key stakeholders must integrate counselors into reform efforts to maximize their impact in schools across America”.

  Transitional issues to ensure successful transitions to college, other post-secondary educational options, and careers are a key area. The high school counselor helps students and their families prepare for post-secondary education including college and careers (e.g. college, ) by engaging students and their families in accessing and evaluating accurate information on what the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy calls the eight essential elements of college and career counseling: (1) College Aspirations, (2) Academic Planning for Career and College Readiness, (3) Enrichment and Extracurricular Engagement, (4) College and Career Exploration and Selection Processes, (5) College and Career Assessments, (6) College Affordability Planning, (7) College and Career Admission Processes, and (8) Transition from High School Graduation to College Enrollment. Some students turn to private college admissions advisors but there is no research evidence that private college admissions advisors have any effectiveness in assisting students attain selective college admissions.

  Lapan, Gysbers & Sun showed correlational evidence of the effectiveness of fully implemented school counseling programs on high school students’ academic success. Carey et al.’s 2008 study showed specific best practices from high school counselors raising college-going rates within a strong college-going environment in multiple USA-based high schools with large numbers of students of non-dominant cultural identities.

  The education of school counselors around the world varies based on the laws and cultures of countries and the historical influences of their educational and credentialing systems and professional identities related to who delivers academic, career, college readiness, and personal/social information, advising, curriculum, and counseling and related services.

  In Canada, the educational requirements to become a school counselor vary by province. Below is an overview of the general provincial requirements for school counselors:

  In China, there is no national certification or licensure system for school counselors.

  Korea requires school counselors in all middle and high schools.

  In the Philippines, school counselors must be licensed with a master’s degree in counseling.

  Taiwan instituted school counselor licensure for public schools (2006) through advocacy from the Chinese Guidance and Counseling Association.

  In the US, a school counselor is a certified educator with a master’s degree in school counseling (usually from a Counselor Education graduate program) with school counseling graduate training including qualifications and skills to address all students’ academic, career, college access and personal/social needs. Once one has completed a master’s degree one can take one of the certification options in order to become fully licensed as a professional school counselor.

  Over half of all Counselor Education programs that offer school counseling are accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and all in the US with one in Canada. In 2010 one was under review in Mexico. CACREP maintains a current list of accredited programs and programs in the accreditation process on their website. CACREP desires to accredit more international counseling university programs.

  According to CACREP, an accredited school counseling program offers coursework in Professional Identity and Ethics, Human Development, Counseling Theories, Group Work, Career Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, Assessment, Research and Program Evaluation, and Clinical Coursework—a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship under supervision of a school counseling faculty member and a certified school counselor site supervisor (CACREP, 2001).

  When CACREP released the 2009 Standards, the accreditation process became performance-based including evidence of school counselor candidate learning outcomes. In addition, CACREP tightened the school counseling standards with specific evidence needed for how school counseling students receive education in foundations; counseling prevention and intervention; diversity and advocacy; assessment; research and evaluation; academic development; collaboration and consultation; and leadership in K-12 school counseling contexts.

  Certification practices for school counselors vary internationally. School counselors in the USA may opt for national certification through two different boards. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) requires a two-to-three year process of performance based assessment, and demonstrate (in writing) content knowledge in human growth/development, diverse populations, school counseling programs, theories, data, and change and collaboration. In February 2005, 30 states offered financial incentives for this certification.

  Also in the US, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) requires passing the National Certified School Counselor Examination (NCSC), including 40 multiple choice questions and seven simulated cases assessing school counselors’ abilities to make critical decisions. Additionally, a master’s degree and three years of supervised experience are required. NBPTS also requires three years of experience, however state certification is required (41 of 50 states require a master’s degree). At least four states offer financial incentives for the NCSC certification.

  The rate of job growth and earnings for school counselors depends on the country that one is employed in and how the school is funded—public or independent. School counselors working in international schools or “American” schools globally may find similar work environments and expectations to the USA. School counselor pay varies based on school counselor roles, identity, expectations, and legal and certification requirements and expectations of each country. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), the median salary for school counselors in the US in 2010 was (USD) $53,380 or $25.67 hourly. According to an infographic designed by Wake Forest University, the median salary of school counselors in the US was $43,690. The USA has 267,000 employees in titles such as school counselor or related titles in education and advising and college and career counseling. The projected growth for school counselors is 14-19% or faster than average than other occupations in the US with a predicted 94,000 job openings from 2008–2018. In Australia, a survey by the Australian Guidance and Counseling Association found that school counselor salary ranged from (AUD) the high 50,000s to the mid-80,000s.

  Among all counseling specialty areas, public elementary, middle and high school counselors are (2009) paid the highest salary on average of all counselors. Budget cuts, however, have affected placement of public school counselors in Canada, Ireland, the United States, and other countries. In the United States, rural areas and urban areas traditionally have been under-served by school counselors in public schools due to both funding shortages and often a lack of best practice models. With the expectation of school counselors to work with data, research, and evidence-based practice, school counselors who show and share results in assisting to close achievement, opportunity, and attainment gaps are in the best position to argue for increased school counseling resources and positions for their programs (Hatch & Bowers, 2003, 2005; ASCA, 2012).

  Jamaal Bowman, US politician
Fernando Cabrera, US politician
, Canadian politician
Derrick Dalley, Canadian politician
, US politician
François Gendron, Canadian politician
Steve Lindberg, US politician
Lillian Ortiz-Self, US politician
Tony Resch, US lacrosse player
Tom Tillberry, US politician
Tom Villa, US politician

Advocacy
Career counseling
Career development
Character education

Education
Educational equity
Educational leadership

List of counseling topics

Multicultural education
Play therapy

School psychology
Social justice
Teacher

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Devoss, J. A., & Andrews, M. F. (2006). School counselors as educational leaders. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Johnson, J., Rochkind, J., Ott, A., & DuPont, S. (2010). Can I get a little advice here? How an overstretched high school guidance system is undermining students’ college aspirations. San Francisco: Public Agenda.

Reynolds, S. E., & Hines, P. L. (2001). Guiding all kids: Systemic guidance for achievement in schools. (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: American Student Achievement Institute.
Reynolds, S. E., & Hines, P. L. (2001). Vision-to-action: A step-by-step activity guide for systemic educational reform. (6th ed.). Bloomington, IN: American Student Achievement Institute.

Brooks-McNamara, V., & Torres, D. (2008). The reflective school counselor’s guide to practitioner research: Skills and strategies for successful inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lapan, R. T., Whitcomb, S. A., & Aleman, N. M. (2012). Connecticut professional school counselors: College and career counseling services and smaller ratios benefit students. ” Professional School Counseling 16,” 117-124.

Carney, J. V. (2008). Perceptions of bullying and associate trauma during adolescence. Professional School Counseling, 11, 179–188.
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Walley, C. T., & Grothaus, T. (2013). A qualitative examination of school counselors’ training to recognize and respond to adolescent mental health issues Journal of School Counseling 11(11). Retrieved from

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Chen-Hayes, S. F., Ockerman, M. S., & Mason, E. C. M. (2014). 101 solutions for school counselors and leaders in challenging times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Griffen, D., & Farris, A. (2010). School counselors and school-family-community collaboration: Finding resources through community asset mapping, 13 248–256.

Suarez-Orozco, C., Onaga, M., & de Lardemelle, C. (2010). Promoting academic engagement among immigrant adolescents through school-family-community collaboration. Professional School Counseling, 14 15-26.

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Ockerman, M. S., Mason, E. C. M., & Chen-Hayes, S. F. (2013). School counseling supervision in challenging times: The CAFE supervisor model. Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 5(2), Article 4. DOI:10.7729/51.0024

Schellenberg, R. (2012). The school counselor’s guide to credentialing exams. New York: Routledge.
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Studer, J. R. (2006). Supervising the school counselor trainee: Guidelines for practice. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Studer, J. R., & Diambra, J. F. (2010). A guide to practicum and internship for school counselor trainees. New York: Routledge.

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What Is School Counseling? 14 Roles & Goals of Counselors

  School counselorSchool counselorFor many youngsters, school and life in general present an endless list of demands and challenges.

  From trauma and learning disabilities to bullying and course selection, life can be difficult for students. A school counselor is there to help.

  The basic role of a school counselor is to support students in their psychological, academic, and social development (Heled & Davidovitch, 2020; Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

  However, the breadth of school counseling is expansive. One minute, the school counselor may provide a social-emotional lesson to a first-grade class, and the next, they collaborate with the administrative team on a new school-wide behavioral intervention system.

  Let’s look at this diverse role and what the ultimate aim is for all school counselors.

  Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

  What Is School Counseling?
Job Description: 8 Roles of a School Counselor
School Counselor vs School Psychologist
6 Goals of a School Counseling Program
A Word on Ethical Boundaries
Positive Education & Counseling
PositivePsychology.com’s Tools
A Take-Home Message
References

  School counseling addresses issues that may affect students’ academic performance, which includes psychosocial and behavioral challenges (Gachenia & Mwenje, 2020). School counseling services are delivered by the school counselor.

  A school counselor’s role addresses students’ mental, emotional, social, and academic development (Heled & Davidovitch, 2020; Popov & Spasenovic, 2020). Schools systems in different parts of the world have varying titles for school counselors (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020):

  Australia – student or education counselor
Bulgaria – pedagogical counselor
Denmark – pedagogical-psychological counselor
Russia – pedagogue-psychologist
Croatia, North Macedonia, and Serbia – expert associate
Malta, Slovenia, UK, USA – school counselor
Ireland – guidance counselor

For more information on this important role in the United States, please refer to the American Counseling Association’s The Role of the School Counselor.

  A 2020 study by Popov and Spasenovic showed that although the title or role of the school counselor differs somewhat, the key elements of school counseling can be summarized as:

  Supporting the psychological, academic, and social development of students
Resolving conflicts between all actors in school life
Helping students face personal problems
Consulting with students, parents, teachers, and principals
Coordinating various school activities.

 

  Counselor roleCounselor role“Advisor, advocate, agent, believer, collaborator, conductor, consultant, coordinator, diplomat, educator, enthusiast, expert, explorer, guide, initiator, leader, listener, mediator, mentor, navigator, negotiator, observer, pedagogue, professional, psychologist, researcher, specialist, supporter, teacher” (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020, p. 34).

  These are just a few roles this multifunctional position may fill. It is important to note that the dominant functions of school counseling may also vary across countries. Let’s explore a few of these in depth.

   

  Counselors help students identify their abilities, capacities, and interests, preventing dropout (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

  The counselor may also act as a coordinator who advises students about their career orientation and decisions. In doing so, counselors may help students prepare for higher education and college admissions (Karunanayake, Chandrapala, & Vimukthi, 2020).

  In Australia and Ireland, the role of the school counselor relies heavily on academic and career guidance and counseling (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

   

  There can be many tricky situations within the school setting, and the counselor may act as an advocate who guides and negotiates by diplomatic means.

  For example, a student may feel that they are being treated unfairly by their teacher. The counselor may also act as a mediator between students who have just had a physical altercation. Prevention is the focus for school counselors in Russia (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020), and a school counselor may be able to prevent unfavorable situations with pre-teaching social skills lessons and counseling.

   

  In teaching social skills, a counselor can act as a researcher, specialist, expert, leader, and consultant (Karunanayake et al., 2020; Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

  The counselor must first seek a research-based social skills curriculum suited for their school demographic, deliver the content, and assist the general education teachers in utilizing the curriculum.

   

  Sometimes all a student needs is a friend, and the school counselor can be there for the student in a professional capacity. With this professional friendship comes confidentiality and privacy.

  Like a friend, the counselor may act as a mentor, supporter, advisor, listener, and believer.

  Supporting students in their personal development and learning is the main role for school counselors in Denmark, Ireland, and the UK (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

   

  In some schools, the counselor may be the frontline point person for students who misbehave. When a teacher sends a student out of the classroom, the student may be required to see the school counselor to address their behavior. The counselor may then decide on the next course of action or consult the administrators.

  Counselors may also have to address attendance issues by communicating with students or parents (Karunanayake et al., 2020).

   

  In many cases, the school counselor may act as a school psychologist while delivering counseling sessions. School counselors may sometimes have to address student trauma or remedy situations involving bullying.

  In the United Kingdom, mental healthcare is also a big focus (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

   

  School counselors may also be found in the classroom. They may assist the classroom teacher, provide consultation, or deliver lessons about social skills or emotional learning.

  Just as the classroom teacher prepares lessons, the school counselor must also create and deliver engaging lessons while having good classroom management skills. Formatively assessing students’ knowledge during and after the lesson helps counselors to adjust the teaching or future content.

   

  Collaborating with school staff and supporting the school organization and the teaching/learning process are also roles of the school counselor. The counselor must create and deliver a robust research-based school counseling program using data and student needs (Dimmitt & Zyromski, 2020).

  Improving the overall functioning of the school, teaching, and school work is the main focus for school counseling in Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia (Popov & Spasenovic, 2020).

   

  The roles of the school counselor and school psychologist are similar in that they aim to provide all students with meaningful access to the school curriculum. The biggest differences between these two professions could be the preparation/education and licensing.

  Although both roles may differ between countries, states, or school districts, here are a few of the common similarities and differences.

  A school psychologist is tasked with the responsibility of helping students succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. This differs from the role of a school counselor in terms of their daily tasks and scope of support.

  Regarding interventions, as an example, a school counselor may be responsible for the implementation of interventions, while the school psychologist’s duty includes administering, scoring, and interpreting psychoeducational assessments that help students qualify for specific services such as special education.

  A school counselor is not licensed to perform such activities. In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that a school psychologist is required as an individualized education program (IEP) team member to interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results.

  Watkins, Crosby, and Pearson (2001) found that many psychologists would prefer to administer fewer assessments and instead conduct more activities that mirror the school counselor’s role. Indeed, in addition to psychometrics, many school psychologists work with students and the school in the areas of positive behavior or conflict-resolution and bullying (National Association of School Psychologists, n.d.).

  As much as a school psychologist may wish to spend more time directly with students, the school counselor will likely be providing individual, small group, class, and counseling sessions to students. In such instances, students are more likely to be referred to school psychologists only when in-depth mental health interventions are required (Wake Forest University, n.d.).

  Both school psychologists and counselors may provide training to teachers to help them meet students’ diverse needs and engage with families, helping to connect them to community service providers or other crisis prevention and intervention services.

  The graph below is by no means an exhaustive list, but demonstrates some of the differences and similarities between school counselors and school psychologists.

  School Counselor vs School PsychologistSchool Counselor vs School Psychologist

   

   

  Fulfill lives

  School counselors help students live more fulfilling lives by addressing problematic issues (Gachenia & Mwenje, 2020). An example of a problematic issue may be a learning disability.

In collaboration with the general education teacher, the school counselor may be able to suggest strategies, implement interventions, or start the special education referral process.

  Assist students with challenges

  Students face a plethora of challenges. If a student has an issue with a particular teacher, the school counselor may speak with the teacher or act as a mediator to remedy the situation.

  Adjustment

  School counseling programs aim to help students attain self-awareness and adjust emotionally, socially, and psychologically (Gachenia & Mwenje, 2020).

A school counselor may create a “buddy” program that pairs a returning student with a new student to make them feel welcome. Additionally, a school counselor may prepare a student for a post-high school job, technical school, or college.

  Promote a positive school life

  According to a study conducted by Gachenia and Mwenje (2020), 87% of the students who participated in counseling sessions felt more positive about their school life.

A counselor is there to help students through difficult situations both in and outside school.

  Generating or supporting school-wide interventions

  In most schools, school counselors are tasked with the responsibility to support, if not entirely create, a school-wide intervention program. Constant evaluation must also accompany this systematic change to determine if the interventions are being implemented and if they are effective (Dimmitt & Zyromski, 2020).

  Mental health and social-emotional learning

  School counseling addresses mental health via school-wide lessons or individual counseling sessions. Counselors may address these needs through class, group, or individual lessons and counseling sessions (Dimmitt & Zyromski, 2020).

In sum, by addressing these goals, a school counseling program aims to improve students’ academic performance and social skills (Gachenia & Mwenje, 2020).

   

  Role of school counselorRole of school counselorSchool counseling is both a complex and delicate service within the school setting.

  As a school counselor, it is important to be aware of legal and ethical ramifications of your actions (Herlihy, Gray, & McCollum, 2002).

  For example, imagine a student confides that they thinking about hurting themselves. They urge you to promise not to tell anyone. While you want to practice confidentiality, ethical guidelines steer you in a different direction. Here are a few important points:

  Counseling relationship

  First, it is essential that the school counselor avoid harm at all costs. The counselor must know their own values and beliefs and ensure that they do not result in bias (American Counseling Association, 2014). Furthermore, it is the counselor’s duty to be mindful of cultural differences that may affect the counseling relationship.

  Confidentiality

  It is crucial that a school counselor can create a rapport with students and earn their trust. A counselor must respect the privacy of the students and provide a safe space to divulge sensitive information; however, it is also important to follow local laws.

Duty of care must be taken into consideration, and the counselor will need to notify the appropriate authority if a student is being harmed or plans to do harm (American Counseling Association, 2014; McGinnis & Jenkins, 2006).

  Maintaining boundaries

  As with many relationships within the school setting, it is crucial to maintain boundaries.

A counselor must not enter a nonprofessional relationship with a student or former student (American Counseling Association, 2014). Boundary Issues in Counseling: Multiple Roles and Responsibilities by Herlihy and Corey (2014) is an extremely good book to explore many ethical situations and solutions.

   

  Positive education is the combination of best-practice teaching and positive psychology. With the supreme benefits of positive psychology, it comes as no surprise that positive education and positive counseling would be just as transformational.

  Uluyos and Sezgin (2021) examined the effects of positive psychology-based group counseling and found that this type of counseling reduced students’ tendency to lie.

  Using the PERMA model, Martin Seligman’s intent is to educate students while fostering happiness and wellbeing. School counselors can refer to Positive Psychology in Schools and Education for Happy Students for ideas on how to get the most out of classroom conversations, various activities for emotional learning and mindfulness, and positive psychology exercises.

  15 Best Positive Education Books and Positive Discipline Practices is an excellent resource to learn more about the art and benefits of positive education.

  This resource is a must read if you found this article to your liking: How to Become a School Counselor: Top Degrees & Programs.

   

  To fully comprehend school counseling and its history, you may wish to review What Is School Psychology? The article provides several fascinating facts and experiments.

  The Top 28 Counseling Books for Practitioners and Beginners is an excellent source to explore books relevant to the field of school counseling. Beginning counselors may wish to review the “Best Books for Beginners” section, and experienced school counselors would benefit by investigating the “For Counseling Children” section, which includes three excellent sources for working with students.

  Considering resiliency within the classroom, a school counselor can explore Teaching Resilience in School and Fostering Resilient Learners. This comprehensive article contains 100 activities for teaching resilience and specific programs used for teaching students this important concept.

  As we already know, mindfulness can be beneficial and ease the effects of stress. Mindfulness for students is especially beneficial, encouraging self-awareness. School counselors may want to refer to Mindfulness in Education: 31+ Ways of Teaching Mindfulness in Schools.

  Here are a few of the many worksheets available at PositivePsychology.com that may be helpful in your school counseling practice:

  Inside and Outside helps students describe how they feel when experiencing an emotion.
Self-Control Spotting is an interactive worksheet where students determine if an action shows self-control or a lack of self-control.
The Self-Assessment Worksheet for Older Children contains seven questions that help students examine their strengths, favorite activities, successes, and hardships.
Showing Responsibility is an excellent tool to explore what responsibility is and determine how to be more responsible.
17 Positive Psychology Exercises – If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, this signature collection contains 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.

 

  School counseling is a multi-faceted, challenging, and rewarding position in the school system.

  If you are empathetic and goal driven, enjoy working with students, and wish to help them be the best they can be in their academic career and as responsible citizens, consider a career as a school counselor.

  Whether you enjoy working with students or young adults, in a classroom or in your own office, collaboratively or independently, with successful students or students with challenges, school counseling may be the profession for you.

  If you encompass these qualities, you could be the one to make a positive change in a student’s life!

  We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

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