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What School Counselors Do

School Counseling Responsibilities

It is important for school counselors to clearly communicate to coworkers and administrators which responsibilities are appropriate to their position. Sometimes, faculty and staff regard school counseling as a “jack of all trades” position because there is such a variety of ways to meet students’ needs — this means counselors can be drawn away from their work by tasks better handled by someone else.

Teachers enrolled in a program to earn a master’s in school counseling spend plenty of time studying the responsibilities of the position, such as individual academic planning, counseling students with behavioral problems, communicating counseling lesson plans to groups, and helping principals identify and resolve student issues.

Counseling in Elementary School

In elementary school, students are beginning to develop their identities and learning how they relate to others. Early identification and intervention to correct self-esteem issues or antisocial behavior is critical to a healthy school community. This is when a school counselor relies on the principles of small group role playing and discussion to introduce topics like health, drugs, friendships and “stranger danger.” School counselors may also develop programs specifically for individual students with additional needs.

Counseling in Middle School

Middle schoolers are searching for a personality that feels right. They try on new peers, new clothes and new attitudes in this search. A school counselor at a middle school works to help students determine their personalities without hurting other people or themselves. They spend a lot of time with students in one-on-one counseling sessions to help them fit in successfully.

Counseling in High School

Students in high school are preparing to enter a world of diversity, technology and responsibility that differs from what they have experienced in school. At this stage, school counseling primarily addresses college and career preparation. School counselors help students evaluate their skills and strengths in the context of what they want to do after school. High school students also face a great deal more pressure in the form of peer acceptance. These students need someone to turn to who can be objective and consistent.

Skills That Are Helpful for School Counseling

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student to counselor ratio of 250:1, but many schools have more than 400 students relying on only one school counselor. In order to reach this many students, it can be helpful for school counselors to have the following skills:

  • Proficiency with technology to reach students via multiple means.
  • Data analysis — to identify needs and evaluate effectiveness.
  • Public speaking — to be comfortable putting groups at ease.

School counselors play many roles for students, schools and the communities in which they work. It is crucial for these professionals to have the skills and knowledge they need.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in School Counseling online.


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