Why You Should Seek A Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors can be a tremendous resource for students, parents, and teachers. Beyond helping young people fulfill their academic requirements, a school counselor guides students in managing the demands of school, parents, and social life while teaching skills like planning, compromises, and negotiation. They may not teach a class directly, but these counselors have as much impact on the student as teachers and offer help that sometimes a teacher cannot provide.
Guidance counselors can help shape your life, especially if they care about students. This article will discuss what a guidance counselor is and how counseling can benefit you or your child.
What Is A Guidance Counselor?
Guidance counselors are better known as school counselors. A school counselor, similar to a school psychologist, works with children, teens, and adults in community colleges and provides school counseling to help them with them their needs. Topics they may discuss include:
- Grades. If a student's grades are slipping, a school counselor wants to find out why. If their grades are exceptional, guidance counselors are there to keep up the momentum.
- Class Schedules. A school counselor, especially one in a community college setting, will help students figure out the best schedule for their needs.
- Testing. A school counselor may help the student with their testing if they have certain needs or discuss future tests.
- Scholarships. Help with various scholarships so that the students can make the most out of their scholastic journey.
- Career Planning. They can talk to students about colleges or various career training opportunities. If a student is interested in a particular focus of study or profession, a school counselor can help them find the best college or training program for their specific career path.
- Emotional Support. A school counselor may meet with the student to counsel them regarding their emotional needs and provide school counseling and services.
- Learning Support. They may go inside classrooms and observe the students who are struggling. They will talk to teachers and see if their environment is the ideal environment for them.
A school counselor can also help by meeting groups in addition to meeting with individuals. School counselors may sit down with a group of students to talk about future events in the school, encourage them to participate, or have anti-drug programs or other programs to prevent them from getting in trouble.
The Important Of Guidance Counselors
When one thinks about the various people who make up a school, they may think about teachers, the principal, assistant teachers, and so on, but they may not think of the school counselor. The school counselor is an unappreciated part of the school system, even though they help the students in many ways (including providing emotional support and educational counseling) and the school administrators.
Guidance counselors carry out several crucial functions in the schools they serve. These include designing and implementing school counseling programs that improve student outcomes and promote equity of accessibility for the entire school population. School counselors are also held to high standards. They must hold at minimum a master’s degree in school counseling, meet state licensure standards, and uphold ASCA (American School Counselor Association) professional and ethical standards.
Helping With Students' Problems
Guidance counselors help the students academically, but some provide help and counseling if they face personal problems. These include:
- Social problems. Say the child is having a difficult time with friends or being bullied. The school counselor can figure out the source of the problem and is trained in how to help the student resolve these issues. This especially applies when the student is new and is unsure of how to socialize.
- Helps students with their emotional problems. If the student is depressed, irritable, or has other extreme emotions, the school counselor can be a sounding board. If the reason involves a mental health disorder, they may recommend a therapist outside of school counseling. Sometimes, the reason may be due to home life or something that happened within the school.
- Listens. They can help students by just being someone that listens. One major role a school counselor fulfills is to understand where their students are coming from, especially considering their specific age of development. For example, a guidance counselor is prepared to hear from an elementary school age student that they are having difficulties at home while a high school student may need someone to listen to their issues with body image or personal relationships.
- Mediates interpersonal conflict. A school counselor may talk to a group of students who are in conflict with each other. Sometimes, the answer is for all the students to work together and figure out their solutions on their own. They can act as a mediator that offers strategies of conflict resolution or encourage healthy communication.
- Offers guidance. A school counselor can help an older student who may be getting involved with an unhelpful peer group. The adolescent years are a time when young people are developing their identities and are vulnerable to negative influences, such as drugs and alcohol. A guidance counselor to support the student and intervening if involved with drugs or other inappropriate behaviors.
Guidance Counselors And Parents
A valuable guidance counselor will have a relationship with the student's parents. If the student struggles with academics, emotions, or social difficulties, the school counselor will inform the parents and work together to figure out why. Parents should also make a point to maintain a healthy relationship with their child's counselors to make sure everything is going well and help with any questions and concerns. If the student is in a situation where they are in trouble, such as suspension, the school counselor helps make a case for the student and defends them.
School counselors may also talk to the parents if they believe there are problems at home. Sometimes, parental neglect may be why the child is misbehaving in school, and guidance counselors want to figure it out so the student can be the best they can be. They are also mandated reporters and will contact the appropriate authorities if they are concerned there is abuse happening at home.
Where Can You Find A Guidance Counselor?
Guidance counselors work at schools of all levels and they are typically staffed in schools, from elementary to college. Some even assist young children in head start schools. As all people need different support systems depending on our age, a guidance counselor will cater their counsel to fit the developmental and social needs of their students. Adolescence requires specific support related to the changes they are undergoing in their bodies and brains. Similarly, college-age students will ask for advice related to their future job and educational goals.
Here are some ways school counselors and school counseling evolve as you grow older:
Children in elementary school are developing their academic self-concept and confidence as learners. They are quickly developing their capacity to make decisions, apply life skills, and understand their own values. A child’s life at home influences how well they engage in schoolwork. School counselors must ensure there are no troubles at home and there are no learning difficulties. Every student learns differently, and by figuring out how a child learns the best, they can help the child grow older.
Middle school is both an exciting and challenging time for many students. Their bodies are starting to transform into adolescence, and they are getting involved with more complex schoolwork and concepts while wondering how to tackle high school. School counseling can help with the challenging transition between childhood and adolescence as they guide them in not only educational goals but working through peer-related issues. They also will help prepare them for high school. Middle school a time when children start to experiment with drugs, so a guidance counselor may try anti-drug programs to prevent that.
High school is the final challenge of public school. The children are now growing into young adults and they are looking to the future wondering who they will be. A counselor may place the teenager in more complex classes depending on their learning style, which can help them prepare for college. In school counseling, guidance counselors may ask the students what jobs they are interested in and if they are interested in a technical or academic college. At this point, a guidance counselor has many resources they offer to their students to help with their transition from high school to adulthood. They can help students with scholarships, the ability to go to a college best suited for their career and help them with any other questions they may have.
In a community college, navigating a future path can be confusing. Some young adults are still undecided on their future careers or if they want to continue in a four-year degree program. Guidance counselors can help narrow down their options. They may help the student have a smoother early college experience. A counselor can help the student prepare for a job once they graduate and help with any financial aid questions. The counselor may also provide job and internship opportunities depending on the job of the counselor. If you're in college, talking to your guidance counselor can benefit you immensely. They can make a schedule suited for you and help you graduate promptly.
Seeking Professional Advice
If you need help while in school, or if your child needs help, do not hesitate to talk to a guidance counselor for advice. Getting advice from an expert, especially in a world where the education system is ever-changing, is a smart move to make. We all need a mentor who can help us succeed, and a guidance counselor is professionally qualified to fulfill that role. Remember that the reach of school counseling extends to the parents as well. In the creation of a productive and caring environment for student it is important that a counselor also works with parents. These counselors can explain and strategize about student academics and provide support for families in difficult phases in their life, such as coping with the loss of a loved one or a divorce.
You can reach out to the school to request academic evaluations for your child to better understand their grades. You can also express any other concerns about your child to the counselor, such as worries about bullying, mental illness, and so on. Parents can and should communicate with the counselor about any outside help the student may be receiving. This collaboration contributes to a student’s ability to not only succeed in school but thrive in life as well.
If you are, however, concerned about your child’s mental health, you can also talk to a regular therapist. Even if there are no mental health concerns, young people can benefit from talking to someone who understands the many challenges that growing up in this world brings. Furthermore, a therapist is a safe and non-judgmental sounding board who is not connected to their school or family.
Lastly, a family therapist can speak with you on how to support your growing child effectively and lovingly. Parenting involves a dedicated focus in preparing your children for life as adults, keeping them healthy and safe, and teaching them values. The quality of the parent-child relationship is arguably the most important contributing factor to the healthy growth and development of children. Sometimes, we do not know how to support our children during this time, especially when they seem to be pushing us away. A therapist is a great resource to help support you during this time and guide you in effective communication strategies to keep your relationship healthy and strong.
You may be busy with work and raising a family which can limit your schedule to the point that you feel you have no time for in-person therapy. Fortunately, you have the option of meeting with an online therapist in the comfort of your own home and at a time most convenient for you. Online therapy has proven effective for those seeking help with a wide range of issues, including helping parents who are hoping to find guidance in becoming a better caregiver. Research has shown that families that participate in online therapy find successful methods for coping with challenges together. Individually, parents may learn that they are not alone and gain strategies for getting through the day to day. Online therapists are available to provide you the support you need, from the comfort of your own home, whenever it is convenient for you and your family.
Guidance counselors are professionally trained to help students meet educational goals while offering management strategies to meet the demands of school, parents, and social life. They also while teach skills like planning, compromises, and negotiation. In a sense, a guidance counselor can have the same impact on a student’s educational and social success that a teacher may have. Guidance counselors play a central role in providing the resources your child needs to thrive at school. From the elementary child to the college student figuring out their purpose, a counselor will provide insight every step of the way and give them the best advice they can.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What do guidance counselors do?
Guidance counselors are a part of the American School Counselor Association. It is responsible for helping students develop the academic and social skills to succeed through school counseling. These career counselors are qualified in helping students overcome personal, academic, or other problems. Additionally, guidance counselors can range from working in an elementary school, high school, or even a college. In short, guidance counselors or school counselors listen to students and help them solve or work through specific problems that are brought to their attention.
How long does it take to become a guidance counselor?
The process of becoming a guidance counselor typically takes around seven to eight years. To work as a counselor at the K-12 level, a bachelor’s degree in a field such as psychology, education, or social work is required. Upon graduating, a person must then attend graduate school and acquire a master’s degree from a school counseling-type degree program. This can take two to three years, and it’s suggested that aspiring guidance counselors or school counselors complete internships relevant to counseling programs while studying. After graduating with a degree in counseling, a school counselor must pass their state’s school counselor exams and apply for certification. All in all, this is a process that takes between seven to eight years on average.
Do you need a master's degree to be a guidance counselor?
For the most part, a master’s degree is required to become a school counselor. There may be a couple of states that offer school counselors exceptions, but most guidance counselors have a master’s degree in their specific field related to school counseling. Regardless of whether a school counselor is working in an elementary school, high school, or university, a master’s degree is likely required in their state.
Do guidance counselors get summers off?
Yes, guidance counselors and school counselors are only required to work nine months out of the year while school is in session, which many consider to be a prominent advantage of the career path. Some counselors will offer counseling programs during the summer on their own time or work at a summer school counseling job if they get bored.
Do guidance counselors get paid more than teachers?
Typically, guidance counselors and school counselors receive more pay than teachers. On average, K-12 teachers earn around $50,000-$55,000 a year. On the other hand, guidance counselors and school counselors at the same level schools earn closer to $60,000 per year. However, professors at the university level typically earn more than guidance counselors. As with any career, though, the best school counselor may make far more than the industry average. Regardless, school counseling tends to be a well-paid career path.
What is the difference between guidance counselors and school counselors?
Though the terms can be used somewhat interchangeably, there is a difference between guidance counselors and school counselors. School counseling focuses mostly on academics, which is what school counselors have more of a specialty in. On the other hand, guidance counselors usually handle more personal problems in a student’s life. Guidance counselors can certainly conduct school counseling and school guidance, but most counselors work with students to overcome different social or personal problems. Another difference is that school counselors typically work at the school itself, but guidance counselors must not do the same.
Is it hard to get a job as a school counselor?
Getting a job in school counseling at an elementary school, high school, or college is entirely dependent on location. Most schools have counseling programs, but if there is no demand for new school counselors, it won't be easy to land a job. Career counseling is a popular career track that school and career counselors compete in, and succeeding as a school counselor can be difficult. A school counselor may be able to move to any town and land a job in school counseling, but picking a specific high school, for example, would be more difficult.
What degree do you need to be a guidance counselor or school counselor?
To enter a counseling program at a school, one must attend a counselor school. This means earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, education, or another related field and then applying to a graduate school counseling program. While those two degrees are all that is needed academically, it’s worth mentioning again that a school counselor needs to pass their state’s counseling exam to go into school counseling. An elementary school may also have different standards for a counselor than a high school, just like a college may have different standards than both. Most counseling programs will allow aspiring school counselors to enter the field.
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