Fiction: Counseling services are nice if the school can afford it, but not really necessary.
Fact: Counseling services are a necessity in schools - not an extra that can be cut. The Institute of Medicine reports that "mental health and psychological services are essential to enabling many students to achieve academically, these (services) should be considered mainstream, not optional services.1
Fiction: Only high school students really need school counseling services.
Fact: Counseling services are essential for students' academic success. Studies on the affects of small group counseling for failing elementary school students found that 83% of students showed improved grades.2
Fiction: If a student needs counseling services - they will get the help they need elsewhere. Schools are no place to provide counseling services.
Fact: Only 20% of youth with mental health disorders receive the help they need.3 The consequences of failing to provide treatment services to children with severe emotional disturbances are significant. Forty-eight percent of these students drop out of high school. In addition, students with severe emotional disturbances miss more days in school each year than students in any other disability category. Of those who drop out of school, 73% are arrested within 5 year of leaving school.4
Fiction: School counseling does not impact student learning or their ability to learn.
Fact: School counseling increases student's ability to concentrate, study, and ultimately learn. Students who attend school with counseling programs earn higher grades. A study of the effects of counseling on classroom performance found that under-achieving students who receive counseling improved significantly on the Self-Rating Scales of Classroom Behavior and in math and language arts grades.5
Fiction: School counselors have NO impact on classroom management and teaching.
Fact: Counseling decreases classroom disturbances. Counseling services support teachers in the classroom in order to enable teachers to provide quality instruction designed to assist students in achieving high standards. Students in schools that provide counseling services indicated that their classes were less likely to be interrupted by other students, and that their peers behaved better in school.4
Fiction: Counselor is only a title - anyone can be a school counselor.
Fact: School counselors are trained professionals, licensed and certified by law and/or regulation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Fiction: School counselors are only career planning specialists or academic schedulers.
Fact: School counselors provide mental, emotional, social, developmental and behavioral services to students. Counselors help students and families overcome personal problems, cope with disabilities, or seek additional services. Counselors provide a wide range of services in the schools.
Fiction: School counselors cannot help reduce school violence.
Fact: School counselors are trained to recognize "early warning signs" in at-risk youth. School counselors work with principals, teachers and other staff to develop and implement school safety, and to prevent school violence. Students who have counseling programs report being more positive, and having greater feelings of belonging and safety in their schools.
No Child Left Behind and the School Counselor
information for school counselors regarding NCLB legislation.
The Role of the Professional School Counselor
The professional school counselor is a certified/licensed educator trained in school counseling. Professional school counselors address the needs of students through the implementation of a comprehensive, standards-based, developmental school counseling program. They are employed in elementary, middle/junior high, and senior high schools, and in post-secondary settings. Their work is differentiated by attention to age-specific developmental stages of student growth, and the needs, tasks and student interests related to those stages. School counselors work with all students, including those who are considered at-risk and those with special needs. They are specialists in human behavior and relationships who provide assistance to students through four primary interventions: counseling (individual and group), large group guidance, consultation, and coordination.
COUNSELING is a confidential relationship which the counselor conducts with students individually and in small groups to help them resolve or cope constructively with their problems and developmental concerns.
LARGE GROUP GUIDANCE is a planned, developmental program of guidance activities designed to foster students' academic, career, and personal/social development. It is provided for all students through a collaborative effort by counselors and teachers.
CONSULTATION is a collaborative partnership in which the counselor works with parents, teachers, administrators, school psychologists, social workers, visiting teachers, medical professionals and community health personnel in order to plan and implement strategies to help students be successful in the education system.
COORDINATION is a leadership process in which the counselor helps organize, manage and evaluate the school counseling program. The counselor assists parents in obtaining needed services for their children through a referral and follow-up process and serves as liaison between the school and community agencies so that they may collaborate in efforts to help students. Professional school counselors are responsible for developing comprehensive school counseling programs that promote and enhance student learning. By providing prevention and intervention services within a comprehensive program, school counselors focus their skills, time and energies on direct services to students, staff, and families. In the delivery of direct services, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that professional school counselors spend at least 70% of their time in direct services to students. The ASCA considers a realistic counselor-student ratio for effective program delivery to be a maximum of 1:250.
Above all, school counselors are student advocates who work cooperatively with other individuals and organizations to promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of children and youth. School counselors, as members of the educational team, consult and collaborate with teachers, administrators and families to assist students to be successful. They work on behalf of students and their families to insure that all school programs facilitate the educational process and offer the opportunity for school success for each student. School counselors are an integral part of all school efforts to insure a safe learning environment and safeguard the human rights of all members of the school community.
Professional school counselors meet the state certification/licensure standards and abide by the laws of the states in which they are employed. To assure high quality practice, school counselors are committed to continued professional growth and personal development. They are proactively involved in professional organizations which foster and promote school counseling at the local, state and national levels. They uphold the ethical and professional standards of these associations and promote the development of the school counseling profession.
Delegate Assembly, June 1999
1. Schools and Health, Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press. Washington D.C. 1997.
2. Boutwell and Murick, 1992. as cited in Academic Achievement and Counselor Accountability. Otwell, Patricia S. and Mullins, Fran. Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, April 1997.
3. Summary Sheet - Major Research Findings on Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Kimberly Hoagwood, Ph.D. National Institute of Mental Health. March 15, 1999.
4. The Impact of More Fully Implemented Guidance Programs on the School Experience of High School Students; A Statewide Evaluation Study. Richard T. Gysbers, Norman C., and Sun Yongmin. Journal of Counseling and Development. March/April 1997.
5. The Effects of Counseling on Classroom Performance. Gerter, Edwin R., Kinney, Judith, and Anderson, Ronald F. Humanistic Education and Development. June 1985.
Provided and authored by the American Counseling Association, Office of Public Policy and Legislation (www.counseling.org/government_relations).