The Problem: Originally, I found that practicing school counselors were not trained or following a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program. Now I believe the problem is that school counselors do not have a defined role. Our national association, ASCA, solved this problem by creating a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program. (ASCA National Model). Also, the name has been changed from vocational counselor, to guidance counselor, and now to school counselor.
The Situation and Root Cause: The national model does help but there are many problems to this solution. School counselors need to be trained in this complex model. Many still do not know what a school counselor does in the school. The school counselor still has multiple jobs that do not focus on one area. By not specializing in one area the job becomes broad and less effective. Sometimes because there are so many responsibilities a counselor begins to choose what to include and what to omit. And sometimes the school chooses for the school counselor. This complex issue can be read about in my blog post, The Unspoken Divide.
My Point-of-View: I strongly believe that if the name was changed to clearly define the role that people would not add duties to the job, they would value the position, and the position would be strong in its specialization. Currently, school counselors help students in social/emotional, career, and academic needs (and any other duty assigned by the principal). By each counselor specializing in one area students, parents, the principal, school board, and community would clearly know the role of the counselor. The counselor would be an expert in one area instead of a jack-of-all-trades.
The Direction: I would like to create sample specializations to show how this could be implemented. I would also show how the ASCA National Model could still fit with this new way of defining the school counselor. I would also like to show how you would implement this model with one or two school counselors and 400+ students. Traditionally, school counselors are divided by grade level or alphabet. The new way would be divided by need.
Note: I am not diminishing what school counselors do but hopefully finding a better way to strengthen the profession and to, ultimately, do what is best for students.
I wrote some thoughts about my idea from my last blog post, A New Way to Define School Counselors.
How would you do it? How can we strengthen our profession so that we have not broadened it to the point of saturation? Can we do it all and be effective?