If you’re an adult of a certain age, you might remember school counselors as the people who handed you career aptitude tests and told you what you’d be best at. But times have changed. In modern schools, school counselors are among the most well-trained and notable members of the academic and administrative team. If you have recently had a bereavement in your world, it’s worth reaching out to your child’s school counselor for support.
What Do Our School Counselors Do?
School counselors work in schools of all kinds, including elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as public and private schools.
At its core, the role of a school counselor is one with responsibilities in two major areas. The first, of course, is to guide a student’s academic and career goals. But counselors are also equipped to support a student’s emotional and social well-being. While not a long-term therapist, a school counselor is trained to provide mental health support for elementary and high school students alike. A counselor can help you and your child assess the best ways to cope with grief and loss. It may be enough for your third-grader to have weekly talks with his or her counselor; on the other hand, your teen’s counselor may be able to direct your family to the appropriate therapists.
School counselors support students who need an outlet for talking about personal and emotional matters — and they do this while also guiding to the type of academic success that will most serve them in their future careers. In many ways, a school counselor’s modern role embraces the reality that student life consists of more than just the social and the academic. Since school counselors deal with social, behavioral, and academic issues, they can assess the interrelated dimensions of a complicated problem, such as bereavement and grief, with adept skill.
Highly Trained and Highly Respected
Of course, dealing with complicated issues in a child-facing role is not a task that just anyone can handle. Today’s school counselors must have incredible accomplishments themselves, fulfilling academic and licensing requirements before they can begin to do their work within the school.
School counselors start with bachelor’s degrees, often choosing to major in subjects related to their future work. Following their graduation from an undergraduate college, a future school counselor can head to a graduate school program to get a school counseling master’s. The master’s degree is the typical entry-level degree for a school counselor beginning their career, but it’s not always a terminal degree. Some school counselors choose to go back to school and secure another degree, often a PhD, to become even more qualified (and, of course, even more competitive when it comes to landing the right job in the right school).
Within a school, school counselors are more respected than ever before, and it’s recognized by teacher and administrators, who take a counselor’s advice concerning each student to heart. School counselors tackle a role that mixes the difficulties of therapy and working with children with the complexities of working in an academic, success-driven environment.
So be proactive. If your family has experienced a major loss, reach out to your child’s teacher, administrators, and, of course, school counselor. These professionals will be essential in helping your child — and you — work through a painful period and come out safely on the other side.
Updated: October 16, 2018