SCHOOL COUNSELING SERVICES
SCHOOL COUNSELING AND
HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE COUNSELORS
Public school districts provide free, personalized school counseling programs to promote student achievement and success. Public school counselors are certified and licensed mental health professionals, as well as educators who hold master’s degrees in school counseling. Their rigorous education and training equip them to address students’ academic, social, emotional, and career development needs.
What do high school guidance counselors and school counselors do?
Counselors have three main roles in the development of public school students: academic development, career and college advisement, and social/emotional support.
• Academic Development
School counselors work directly with individual students, teachers, and fellow professionals to help students build the academic skills they need to be efficient and eager learners. Counselors team with students to create an academic plan that encourages exploration into potential areas of study based on the student’s natural interests and curiosity. Counselors also provide tools to build study skills and strategies for academic success.
• Career and College Guidance
Students rely on high school guidance counselors to help them plan for life after graduation. Counselors provide personalized guidance for each student while they prepare for the transition to college or career. Students receive information and advice on the many higher-learning options after high school, as well as current in-demand trades and specialty career pathways.
• Social and Emotional Support
Counselors respond to the needs of students facing personal challenges at home and/or in school, recognize the need for early mental health intervention, and provide information and resources for school and community services. School counselors strive to maintain a nurturing school environment by partnering with school nurses, social workers, and school psychologists to ensure students’ mental safety. Students sometimes depend on their school counselors to help them navigate social hurdles like bullying and conflict resolution, while also receiving emotional support for issues like anxiety and depression.
Elementary school counselors, middle school counselors, and high school counselors are on staff in order to assist students who may be experiencing personal struggles or academic challenges. They help students plan for college and choose career paths, and they intervene when students are faced with physical, behavioral, or mental health challenges.
The American School Counselor Association’s overview of elementary school counselor roles and responsibilities includes:
- Counselors are educators uniquely trained in child development, learning strategies, self-management, and social skills.
- Counselors understand and promote success for all student populations.
- Elementary school counselors implement a program to support students through early stages of development. This includes education, prevention, and intervention activities, which are integrated into all aspects of children’s lives. The program teaches knowledge, attitudes, and skills students need to acquire in academic, career, and social/emotional development, which serves as the foundation for future success.
The Essential Role of a Middle School Counselor includes similar roles and responsibilities as elementary school counselors. The American School Counselor Association states, “Identifying students’ academic and social/emotional needs, as well as providing any necessary interventions, is essential in removing barriers to learning and helping students develop skills and behaviors critical for academic achievement. The knowledge, attitudes and skills students acquire during these years build the foundation for future success.”
Do school counselors diagnose mental health concerns?
School counselors are trained to recognize the possible presence of conditions like ADHD or learning disabilities, but they are not licensed to diagnose these conditions or prescribe medication to students. Some schools may have school psychiatrists which are permitted to prescribe medications. If a school counselor suspects a behavioral, learning, or mental health concern, they will typically provide parents with a referral to a local specialist for further diagnosis.
Questions Concerned Parents Ask
Parents sometimes wonder “why do students miss school?” or “why do students hate school?” While there are numerous causes for kids to dislike school, public school counseling services aim to change these attitudes and implications.
According to the National Collaborative on Education and Health, “providing students with access to school-based mental health programs is a key strategy for improving student attendance.” This NYU Counseling Benefits Infographic shows how counseling in schools has helped students by increasing graduation rates, experiencing fewer discipline issues, and having more positive attitudes about school.
Our public school districts provide professional counselors and free counseling services to all students. High school guidance counselors and school counseling services are primarily responsible for facilitating career development. School couselors are active more than ever in helping public school students in a variety of valuable ways. The role of a school counselor is multifaceted, and it varies with each individual school and with each individual student they support.