Dr. Randy McPherson: Hi! I'm Dr. Randy McPherson, the 2011 American School Counselor Association, and Counselor of the year. What exactly does a school counselor do? First we need to establish that school counselors work with all students. Not just the top 5% going to college or the 5% who always seem to be in trouble, all students. Many people know the profession by the term guidance counselor. Guidance is a function of what we do, but it doesn't reflect all we do. School counselors work with students on three domains of development; Academic, Career, and Social and Personal. We collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents and community agencies to ensure that we understand student needs and develop programs that support the three domains.
School counselors' work with students in classroom settings, in small groups that target specific areas of need, all concerns, and through individual meetings for more directed one-on-one counseling. The school counselor's role changes significantly as students move from elementary to middle to high school. We take into account how kids mature and their stages of the development at each age level as we do build comprehensive counseling programs that best serves students and the communities in which they live.
Ultimately our role is to support the academic development of students. This often means identifying the social and emotional issues that may get in the way. School counselors work with students on issues that may impede their ability to focus that has success in classrooms. Grief issues, lolls, organizational and study skills, college application process etc. The list is endless and ever-changing. What we also must do is realize our limits; we are not therapist or experts in all of areas. We understand that collaborating with community agencies to make referrals to other support professionals is an essential part of serving students and families. School counselors in each school setting help provide a safe and nurturing place for students to grow and thrive.