A New Way to Define School Counselors

Through my research in the Standford Design Model, I have been looking at how we can train practicing school counselors in the new ASCA National Model.  The model was officially adopted in 2003 so its full implementation into schools has not been complete.  Through my research I found that the model was created so that school counselors would not be eliminated or become obsolete. This threat has occurred many times throughout the history of school counseling and the role had to change and adapt.

The ASCA National Model created by Norman C. Gysbers, was able to solve this problem by infusing a program into the school.  School counselors defined their role through the model so that extra duties such as, test coordination, clerical duties, and miscellaneous needs of the principal were not passed to the school counselor.  These extra duties broaden the role and eventually the school counselor becomes less effective.  Budget cuts come and school counselors are found with 400 to even 1000 students on their caseload.  Again, making the school counselor less effective.  This image is then portrayed to the students, parents, principal, school board, and community.

With the changing role of the school counselor another issue is school counselor training.  This was brought up from a student blog, Walter Benedict.  What training will prepare today’s school counselor.  What is missing and needs to be added?

Another issue with the ASCA National Model is fitting into the curriculum.  For example, a high school teacher would have 45 minutes to an hour to instruct and fulfill benchmarks in their curriculum. A school counselor has to make room to deliver the ASCA National Model.

An idea I have to both address the defined role of a school counselor and the needed training for all of the different areas in curriculum is to have school counselors specialize in an area.  You would have a College Counselor, Career Counselor, Academic Counselor, and Mental Health Counselor.  A school counselor then would be able to specialize and get extensive training in their area.  The role would be clearly defined by their specialization.  Also, their position would not be watered-down making them less effective.

If a parent needed help with their child’s college applications, they would see the College Counselor.  If a principal needed help with failing grades he would go to the Academic Counselor. If a student was suicidal she would go to the Mental Health Counselor. If a student wanted to coordinate his career interests with an internship he would go to the Career Counselor.

Traditionally, school counselors divide their caseload by alphabet or grade level.  This new idea would divide the caseload based on need.  High schools normally have 4-8 school counselors.  They could have two College Counselors divided by grade level or alphabet and so on.

The ASCA National Model could still be implemented but in a different way.  I feel the school counselors role would be clearly defined and the specialization would create a strong presence in the school and community.

What do you think?




3 thoughts on “A New Way to Define School Counselors

  1. I love this idea. I can easily see the potential ripple effect this would have for both practicing school counselors as well as the larger school counseling community. I reflect on my time in high school and am so appreciative that I did have one counselor who focused only on college/career issues, as her position was the “post-secondary counselor”. However, the remaining counselors did everything else, thus absorbing the roles of mental health, academic,etc. counselors. I think this is one great way of addressing the lack of training and preparation for school counselors. I do see, however, potential issues that may arise in advocating for this change. It is a BIG change after all and one that would take a lot of time, energy, and money, which sadly is often a deterrent for many great ideas. I know for me, my passion lies in preparing students for post-secondary life, which is why I have focused my time and energy in receiving any and all professional development opportunities related to the topic, even outside of my program requirements. Great idea. I would be very interested in seeing this actually coming to fruition and how it would impact school counselors and the school counseling community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Walter! I was trying to think outside the box to come up with a solution. In your school training you could still have the broad aspects of all the roles. But when you become a high school counselor and specialize in college counseling, you would go to the Counselor College Fair for the updates in college applications. You would be the key liason to the college admission officers. When you need to take 6 credits to keep your certificate (In Michigan it’s 6 college credits), you can take the “College in the Selection Process” course or go to IEAC’s summer camp. You would get training in FAFSA and all aspects of the college process. You would make sure all students have applied or have a plan after high school.

      Currently, it is expected that all 4-8 high school counselors do this to keep updated. Plus, keep updated in mental health areas: bullying, suicide, drug abuse, etc. Then also, keep updated on closing-the-gap in achievment through interventions. Tracking students that don’t have enough credits for graduation and supplying recovery courses, etc

      When our curriculum has us do so much we are not as effective. The ASCA National Model is important but I think it can be the most effective if it is specialized.

      I don’t want to scare you but you are becoming aware of the broad range of responsibilites a school counselor has in their position. I am glad that you are questioning the training. It can only make school counseling stronger when we can ask these questions and find solutions to better our profession.


  2. Pingback: School Counselor: Specialization or Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of None? | cmlindberg

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