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A school counselor is a counselor who works in schools. It is a practice most common in the United States and Canada.

Most school counselor occupations or equivalent occupations are comparable to the U.S. high school counselor in terms of duties and services. Historically, the need for high school counselors has been emphasized more so than school counselors in lower grades. Many countries vary as to whether counseling services is provided outside a school setting, or not provided at all.

In Korea, school counselors must teach a subject besides counseling, and not all school counselors are appointed to counseling positions. even though Korean law has required school counselors in all middle and high schools, according to Professor Kim, Kay-Hyon at Seoul National University[1]


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Some elementary school counselors use books and other media to facilitate the counseling process.

United StatesEdit

In the United States, the school counseling professional began as a vocational guidance movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Jesse B. Davis is considered the first to provide a systematic school guidance program. In 1907, he became the principal of a high school and encouraged the school English teachers to use compositions and lessons to relate career interests, develop character, and avoid behavioral problems. Many others during this time did the same. For example, in 1908, Frank Parsons, "Father of Vocational Guidance" established the Bureau of Vocational Guidance to assist young people in making the transition from school to work.

From the 1920s to the 1930s, school counseling and guidance grew because of the rise of progressive education in schools. This movement emphasized personal, social, moral development. Many schools reacted to this movement as anti-educational, saying that schools should teach only the fundamentals of education. This, combined with the economic hardship of the Great Depression, led to a decline in school counseling and guidance. In the 1940s, the U.S. used psychologists and counselors to select, recruit, and train military personnel. This propelled the counseling movement in schools by providing ways to test students and meet their needs. Schools accepted these military tests openly. Also, Carl Rogers' emphasis on helping relationships during this time influenced the profession of school counseling. In the 1950s the government established the Guidance and Personnel Services Section in the Division of State and Local School Systems. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I. Out of concern that the Russians were beating the U.S. in the space race, which had military implications, and that there were not enough scientists and mathematicians, the American government passed the National Education Act, which spurred a huge growth in vocational guidance through large amounts of funding. Since the 1960s, the profession of school counseling has continued to grow as new legislation and new professional developments were established to refine and further the profession and improve education (Schmidt[2], 2003). On January 1, 2006, congress officially declared February 6-10 as National School Counseling Week.

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Wiktionary: School Counselor

Theoretical framework and servicesEdit

Professional School Counselors implement a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student achievement. Professional School Counselors are employed in elementary, middle/junior high and high schools and in district supervisory, counselor education and post-secondary settings. Their work is varies, with attention focused on developmental stages of student growth, including the needs, tasks, and student interests related to those stages.

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Professional School Counselors meet the needs of student in three basic domains: academic development, career development, and personal/social development. These domains are developed through classroom instruction, appraisal, consultation, counseling, coordination, and collaboration. For example, in appraisal, school counselors may use a variety of personality and vocational testing to help students explore vocation needs and interests or observe a student in a class, and provide their expertise to teachers (consultation) and other personnel to develop a plan to address the student behavioral problems, and then work together (collaboration) to implement the plan. They also help by providing consultation services to family members.

Additionally, professional school counselors may lead classroom guidance on any a variety of topics within the three domains such as personal/social issues relative to student needs, or establish groups to address common issues among students, such as divorce or death. Often counselors will coordinate outside groups that wish to help with student needs such as academics, or coordinate a state program that teaches about child abuse or drugs, through on-stage drama (Schmidt[2], 2003)


Elementary school counselors often must adapt counseling to meet the special needs of young children. To faciliate the counseling process, they will often use a variety of media such as crayons, paint, puppets, clay, children's books, and toys. The elementary school counseling career is the most viable option for Americans and Canadians who interested in the field of play therapy verses community and private agencies. However, elementary school counselors also spend much, if not most, of their time in classroom guidance. Often they are on a rotating schedule with other "special area" teachers such as music education teachers, art education teachers, or physical education teachers.

Middle SchoolEdit

In middle school counseling the school counselor typically is engaged much less classroom instruction, and has more time for individual and small group responsive services (e.g. counseling, individual planning). Also, the counselor usually spends more time on vocational testing with eighth grade students.

High School/SecondaryEdit

In high school, the American school counselor very rarely provides any responsive services or classroom guidance. However, the high school counselor occasional provides large group guidance on post-secondary education. For example, the high school counselor helps students prepare for post-secondary school (e.g. college, trade school) by providing information on financial aid, recommendation letters, test-preparation and so forth. He or she spends much time scheduling classes and monitoring student progress towards graduation.

Education and trainingEdit

The Professional School Counselor is a certified/licensed educator trained in school counseling with unique qualifications and skills to address all students’ academic, personal/social and career development needs.

According to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a school counseling program should meet several standards such as the professional identity of school counseling (history, organizations, so on), cultural diversity courses, human development and growth, and career development. Additionally, it has to have core components for helping relationships (consultation, counseling, so on), group work, assessment, research and program evaluation, knowledge and requirements for school counselors, contextual dimensions of school counseling, and foundations of school counseling. In programs that are, CACREP accredited, a school counseling student must have 600 hours of internship under a highly qualified school counselor (master's degree or higher, and appropriate licenses and certifications) (CACREP[3], 2001).

Lastly, according to CACREP, a school counseling program must be a master level (or higher) graduate program. Each state has its own certification or licensure requirements, and at least one state, California, merely requires a bachelor's degree, causing concern about competence of school counselors in that state (National Clearinghouse[4]. However, California does have a Pupil Personnel Services credential (PPS) that requires completion of 48 semester hours in a Commission approved program specializing in school counseling (California Commisssion on Teacher Creditionaling[5] , 2004).

School Counselors may opt for national (American) certification through two different boards. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) requires a two-to-three year process of performance based assessment, and demonstrate (in writing) content knowledge in human growth/development, diverse populations, school counseling programs, theories, data, and change and collaboration. As of February, 2005, 30 states offer financial incentives for this certification.

The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) requires passing the National Certified School Counselor Examination (NCSC), which includes 40 multiple choice questions and seven simulated cases which assess school counselors abibilities to make critical decisions on the spot. Additionally, a master's degree and three years of supervised experience are required. NBTS also requires three years of experience, however a master's degree is not required, but only state certification (41 of 50 require a master's degree). At least four states offer financial incentives for the NCSC certification (McLeod[6], 2005). Both certifications have benefits and costs that a school counselor would want to consider for national certification. For more information, see external links.

Job growth and earningsEdit

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook[7] (OOH) the median salary for school counselors in May 2004 was $45,570. The middle 50 percent earned between $25,840 and $40,130. Also, school counselors could earn additional money working summer jobs as counselors for schools or community agencies, and among all counseling fields, are currently (2004) paid the highest salary. Overall employment for counselors is faster than average, and school counselors should find a favorable job market because demand is higher than the graduation rates of school counseling programs.


  1. Kim, Kay-Hyon. Systems of Counseling Services in Korea. Last accessed June 27, 2006
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schmidt, J.J. (2003) Counseling in schools: Essential services and comprehensive programs. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  3. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). (2001) The 2001 Standards. Retrieved on November 25, 2003, from cacrep/2001standards700.htm
  4. National Clearinghouse, [school counselor] n.d. National Clearinghouse for professions in Special Education. (n.d.) School counselor. Retrieved on February 26, 2005 from
  5. California Commisssion on Teacher Creditionals. (August 2004). Pupil Personal Services Creditial. California Leaflet 606. retrieved on June 27, 2006 from
  6. Mcleod, K. (March/April 2005). Certification by the books. ASCA School Counselor. Alexandria, VA: American School Counseling Association
  7. United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics Outlook Handbook

General referencesEdit

  • Studer, J.R. (2005) The Professional School Counselor: An Advocate for Students. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

See alsoEdit

External links Edit

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