School counseling is one of the services that are essential for the educational system. Children and adolescents in the United States face multiple challenges in attaining their education and getting through school. Hence, having a professional who is willing to help students deal with their emotional, academic, or social issues is essential for schools. Going through the developmental stages and adolescence can be complicated. With professional assistance, teenagers are more likely to develop healthy coping mechanisms and achieve success in life. Hence, the essay identifies and discusses a school counselor’s direct and indirect responsibilities.
An intensified focus on youth development has resulted in the comprehension of the significance of young people’s well-being, mental health, and resilience. There have been numerous shifts in paradigm regarding school psychology over the years (American School Counselor Association, 2019). Positive psychology refutes the traditional emphasis on practices of intervention on pathology (American Psychological Association., 2020). As an alternative, positive psychology concentrates on a person’s distinctive positive features and capitalizes on their potential.
Overall, positive psychology can profit from the continued re-examination of its grounds and the clarification of its outlooks and understanding. It is probable that individuals may already have all they need, which could be part of positive psychology that recognizes an individual’s strengths, hence building them, as opposed to building from scratch (American Psychological Association., 2020). The American Counselling Association (ACA) supports studies that exhibit psychotherapy’s advantage in supporting healthy living approaches. Counseling in schools explicitly pays attention to the healthy growth of all pupils, which is reasonable since the number of students who may need therapy for behavioral difficulties is usually large (American School Counselor Association, 2019). School counselors recognize that through positive psychology, they can assist in nurturing a prosperous society through the creation and implementation of interventions that uphold the growth of blooming learners. Counselors in school settings can cultivate positive personal features and emotions through positive psychology.
Mental Health Services
Mental illnesses are common in adolescence and impose an incredible health burden on school students. Increasing mental health concerns and suicide planning in school-aged kids require addressing by school counselors (Lambie et al., 2019). Therapy for teenagers with mental health problems commonly involves the administration of psychotherapy and psychotropic medication. Effective therapeutic interventions without significant adverse effects have developed over the course of the last 20 years (American School Counselor Association, 2019). Regrettably, regardless of the ineffectiveness of standard clinical care, the majority of routine community practices do not integrate evidence-based treatments for such disorders into their systems of healthcare delivery (American Psychological Association., 2020). In essence, community practices hardly include effective care for mental health problems; thus, effective therapeutic intervention benefits are inaccessible to many adolescents seeking health care for mental disorders in their communities.
Sexual and Reproductive Health services
Teens get counseling and guidance on responsible sexual conduct, for instance, prevention of HIV and STIs infection, methods of birth control, and abstinence. For instance, birth control and Pap test are the most reported reproductive health services sought by adolescents. Nearly 71 percent of adolescent females reported receiving a Pap test every year (American Psychological Association., 2020). In essence, counseling on the various birth control methods is essential for adolescent females and can help to reduce the number of females who suspend using their contraception method. Furthermore, school counselors should engage in the process of students’ sexual and gender minority identity development to improve their experience with education by promoting respect and equality in students (Simons et al., 2020). Thus, sexual and reproductive health-related services present an essential part of practice for professional school counselors.
Oral Health Services
School students often engage in dangerous or negative behaviors, such as smoking. Nearly 30% of high school students regularly use tobacco products; the smoking cessation interventions in school students involve medical counseling and dental counseling (Wang et al., 2019). Aesthetic and orthodontic concerns create visits to the dentist, and dental pathologies are not only often symptomatic but also common among adolescents. This recurrent interaction offers dentists the responsibility and opportunities to involve their pubescent patients in encouraging productive health behaviors, recognizing health conditions that require a referral, and detecting risky behaviors and eating disorders (American Psychological Association., 2020). However, regardless of the regularity with which they visit a dentist, the dental profession has, until recently, concentrated less on adolescents’ past orthodontic matters.
The scope of responsibilities of a school counselor is diverse as it involves both direct and indirect activities for various age groups. According to the ASCA National Model, school counselors help students in the application of strategies for academic achievements, assist in the management of emotions with interpersonal skills and plan postsecondary options (higher education, military, workforce) (American School Counselor Association, 2019). Yet, indirectly counselors’ duties are not limited by this list. Their indirect responsibilities include Program Planning/Coordinating and professional development (Erford, 2019). In fact, the personal skills and characteristics that the counselor has may allow him or her to take leadership roles or act as a role model.
In conclusion, the profession of a school counselor demands professionalism and integrity. A solid education and the desire to grow as a professional are essential. There are plenty of challenges associated with this job, yet, there are defined codes of conduct and ethical guidelines that make the decision–making process of school counselors easier. It is important to remember the mission of a school counselor, which is to help students become the best version of themselves.
American School Counselor Association (2019). ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs. Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.
American Psychological Association (2020). APA publication manual (7th edition). Washington, DC: APA.
Erford, B.T. (2019). Transforming the school counseling profession (5th edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Lambie, G. W., Stickl, H. J., Borland, J. R., & Campbell, L. O. (2019). Who took ‘counseling’ out of the role of professional school counselors in the United States? Journal of School-Based Counseling Policy and Evaluation, 1(3), 51-61.
Simons, J. D., & Beck, M. J. (2020). Sexual and gender minority identity development: recommendations for school counselors. Journal of School Counseling, 18(20), 1-30.
Wang, T. W., Gentzke, A. S., Creamer, M. R., Cullen, K. A., Holder-Hayes, E., Sawdey, M. D., Anic, G. M., Portnoy, D. B., Hu, S., Homa, D. M., Jamal, A., & Neff, L. J. (2019). Tobacco product use and associated factors among middle and high school students – United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report – Surveillance Summaries, 68(12), 1–22.