Childhood is a cherished time for most of us. Living under our parents’ roof, spending the days in school and the evenings with friends, having no bills to pay and no house chores to worry about. It is truly a special time. However, not everyone has the same pleasant experience.
There are children and young adults who, while navigating through the complications of adolescence, also have to deal with serious other issues at a young age. Some children experience domestic troubles, abusive environments, financial issues, family health issues, or the loss of a loved one. Having to handle such tragedies and traumas at a young age affects a child’s mental health and leaves them with little strength to make efforts for the betterment of their future.
In such difficult times, a supportive figure who can handle a child with empathy and patience can play a huge role. Sometimes, this figure comes in the shape of a relative or a teacher, but more often, school counselors are the ones who fill these shoes for troubled children.
Who are School Counselors, and what is their Role?
School counselors are psychology professionals who support children’s psychological, social, and academic development. These branches of development required to be covered by school counselors are extremely broad. Hence, a school counselor must be able to fulfill the role of a counselor, therapist, friend, teacher, and consultant all rolled into one.
Due to the sensitive nature of the job, most school counseling jobs require at least a professional degree in psychology. However, for teachers looking to switch to a counseling position, there is the option of opting for an online masters in psychology counseling, which makes the transition to a counseling role easier.
Benefits of Having a Counselor in School
With more awareness regarding mental health issues and personal problems affecting children, there has been a rise in demand for school counselors. There are many benefits of having an in-house counselor at schools, and most districts today require a full-time counselor to be present in every school. Let’s look at the three primary benefits to better understand the role and importance of school counselors:
- Student Support
The primary responsibility of school counselors is to provide the necessary support to students. This can entail tackling behavioral issues, helping troubled teenagers overcome depression, or assisting struggling students in their academic development. A counselor takes on all the above tasks and all others which may arise so long as the purpose is to help a student.
With their professional training in psychology, counselors can get through to students in a way that parents and teachers cannot. By connecting with them and showing empathy, counselors can help students open up and resolve their internal conflicts. As such, studies show that there is a significant increase in student happiness in schools with qualified and effective student counselors.
- Promotion of Student Welfare
School counselors often have to play the role of the middleman who stands between students and the administration, and most of the time, the counselors side with the students. School counselors encourage the development and implementation of policies that promote student welfare
Moreover, in instances where there is a dispute between both sides, school counselors often play the role of a mediator and help diffuse the situation. As a reliable party that is trusted by both sides, counselors are in a position to help reach a middle ground that is acceptable for everyone.
- Assistance in College Applications
College is a big milestone for many. While some students have their college plans laid out from freshman year, many others are clueless regarding the application process. The former category generally includes students from underprivileged backgrounds who don’t have proper guidance. Sometimes, such students with excellent credentials end up not going to college solely because they did not have any assistance in preparing their applications or were unaware of scholarships.
This is where school counselors step in. With their innate knowledge of the college application and acceptance process, counselors can provide the necessary guidance and advice required to prepare a proper application. Additionally, counselors offer information regarding scholarships and financial aid options that give students who can’t afford college a chance to study further. Research has shown that counselors greatly impact students, especially those from low-income backgrounds.
The job of a counselor is extremely demanding and strenuous, but at the same time, it is equally, if not more, rewarding. Helping young adults figure out their lives and reach their full potential is extremely fulfilling. However, counselors seldom get the credit they deserve for taking on a responsibility as big as they do. Yet, the contribution of counselors cannot be overlooked. By lending an empathetic and supportive shoulder to struggling students, counselors help them reclaim their life and find a path for themselves.
Whether you’re considering becoming a school counselor or contemplating hiring a counselor for your school, we hope this article will help you. By understanding the role and impact of a counselor on students, you can now make a more informed decision.