Role of the School Counselor
The role of the School Counselor has changed dramatically since the inception of the "Guidance Counselor" position in the late 1800's.
In the late 1800's in response to the Industrial Revolution, vocational guidance counselors were instituted in schools to guide students to an appropriate profession to ensure a smooth transition from school into the work force. Over the next 50 years, the role of the vocational guidance counselor was utilized to help prepare students for college and to select, recruit, and train young people for the military.
In step with the famous space race in the 1950's, vocational guidance grew in popularity as the US government placed more and more importance on creating more mathematicians and scientists. The American government passed the National Defense Education Act, which provided funding to support the work of vocational guidance counselors in helping to guide students into science and math related fields.
By the 1990's, however, the emphasis on school counseling was dwindling as there was not a lot of evidence supporting the efficacy of school counseling. In 1997, with data provided by Campbell & Dahir, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) published the ASCA National Standards for School Counseling, which outlined a more comprehensive understanding of the role of the school counselor in K-12 education. This prompted a shift from the term "Guidance Counselor" to "School Counselor" in the profession.
This prompted a shift from the term "Guidance Counselor" to "School Counselor" in the profession.
Since the publication of the ASCA National Standards for School Counseling & the ASCA National Model, school counseling has evolved to provide students with a comprehensive program that focuses not only on vocational guidance but also assisting students in providing students with services in the domains of social/emotional counseling, career counseling, and academic counseling. This shift from vocational guidance to comprehensive school counseling has been critical to providing students with a program that meets the needs of all students in the K-12 setting based on data and outcome measures.
In order to assist school counselors in advocating for their role in educational settings, ASCA has provided many resources to educate your stakeholders on the services that school counselors can provide. ASCA has provided an official statement on the role of the school counselor as well as statements for each level of school counseling: elementary, middle and high. ASCA has also provided information regarding appropriate/inappropriate duties for comprehensive school counselors in order to help you advocate for your program.
When advocating for your school counseling program, it is critical to utilize data in order to demonstrate the efficacy of the work that you do. ASCA provides many tools that you can use in order to demonstrate the efficiency of your program. One essential tool is the Principal Agreement that can be used to speak with the principal of your building to establish guidelines for how the school counselor will be implemented in your building. Other great tools include calendars, results reports, and appropriate smart goals that align with your school's mission.
If you are interested in taking your counseling program to the next level, become a member of the Essex County School Counselor Association and the New Jersey School Counselor Association to access more resources and networking to assist you in this goal.