As education advances, there is an increasing need for school Counselors and psychologists.
Children, teenagers, and even youths in today’s school system are experiencing a wide range of challenges— from parents, fellow students, strangers, relatives, and life in general—which are a potential threat to a child’s/student’s academic, personal/social, and career success.
Therefore, schools at all levels of education must have on-site counselors and psychologists who are vast in the current mental health practice of students at their various developmental stages. These persons must also have an in-depth knowledge of therapeutic techniques and their application. They must also be familiar with confidentiality—as it concerns both students and parents—to help them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
Like Frederick Douglass succinctly cautioned, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”! Building strong children equate to creating a worthwhile society. Hence, the need to have counselors and psychologists at all levels of education.
The Need for Counselors and Psychologists
As we know, every child is different, with different family histories and experiences. Grooming them requires the expertise of a professional counselor to unearthing the diverse needs of the 21st-century learner. But most parents, school administrators, and even the general public are oblivious of the role of professional counselors in schools.
It is also evident that not every classroom teacher has the prerequisite training to function as a counselor or psychologist. Professional counselors are complementary staff members of the 21st-century schooling system; an integral part of a student’s daily educational environment. In this context, the word “complementary” means “to bring perfection or completeness to something”. On this note, we can conclude that our present educational system is incomplete, owing to the absence of professional counselors and psychologists.
A Professional School Counselor
A professional school counselor is a certified and licensed educator trained in school counseling with unique qualifications and skills to address every form of students’ academic, personal/social, and career development needs. School counselors are undoubtedly members of the educational system, and any responsive school must not negate the importance of using their potentials. As an integral part of the educational leadership team, they provide valuable assistance in the following areas:
A professional counselor helps students in many areas—such as academic, personal/social, and career development— and ensures that students become productive and well-behaved adults in the future. Counselors make students motivated learners and facilitate their exploration of careers.
Young school children naturally find it difficult to navigate life, as their experiences at this level are a blend of excitement, frustration, and disappointment. At this level, they always need a place to belong and rely on peers for acceptance or approval. But with the help of a professional school counselor, they can create a balance, discover who they are, and understand the essence of life at an early stage.
The support that school counselors provide for parents and guardians is just as important as the support that they give to students. They may facilitate individual, parent-teacher, parent-child, or parent-parent consultations and discussions to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to issues regarding the students. And such consultations—which could involve disciplinary decisions, educational issues, or social provocations—are geared towards maintaining good educational legacies.
School counselors can even educate parents and act as a resource for parents who have questions about child-related problems. They also ensure that parents understand that the services of other staff—such as nurses, resource teachers, and social workers—can provide support for students who have special needs or disabilities. When the parents need extra support, the counselors help them find it, whether it is within the school system or the community.
School counselors provide a lot of support to teachers by completing a team that can effectively address the educational goals and needs of students, leading to an increase in student achievements. They can help plan classroom activities that meet the students’ needs. Counselors share resources with teachers to help the staff develop their skills in effective classroom management.
They also observe students in the classroom or playground and provide teachers with information regarding the character of each student. School counselors—sometimes—review student records as well to ensure that teachers are on track.
School administrators are responsible for running all school operations, from educational materials to everyday school activities. Since school counselors are an integral part of these responsibilities, they ensure that the school counseling program and academic mission correlate and promote student success.
Counselors also develop structures to help the administration use counselors effectively to facilitate student development and learning.
A professional school psychologist
School psychologists work with students who have intensive mental health needs. These professionals perform psychological assessments, develop solutions, and implement intervention strategies. In a school setting, psychologists also work with teachers, administrators, and parents to discern which types of challenges students face. They also monitor the effectiveness of their strategies over time to determine whether there is a need to improve.
Difference between school Counselors and Psychologists
School counselors and psychologists provide services that support students and encourage healthy development. However, they employ different approaches to achieve these goals. School counselors deliver basic services to a broad range of students, but school psychologists provide comprehensive mental health care services to students struggling with their mental health. The difference lies in the fact that counselors offer a general service, while psychologists are specialized.
While school counselors often have a broad scope of job responsibilities, they also follow a specialized educational path.
Most schools have at least one counselor on staff, but a school psychologist can serve several schools. When a counselor suggests that a student might require more advanced mental health evaluation, the school may invite a school psychologist. In all, counselors and psychologists sometimes collaborate in formulating intervention plans based on a student’s individual needs.
Meanwhile, qualifying for employment as a school psychologist requires extensive education and training. The minimum requirement to become a school psychologist is usually a master’s degree in psychology or a more specialized discipline, such as school psychology, child psychology, or educational psychology.