Monday, October 20, 2014

What Makes an Effective School Counselor?

I believe there are 5 qualities that make a school counselor an “effective helper”. After interviewing and meeting professionals from different school districts and socioeconomic backgrounds, I believe that what follows is an accurate description of what makes a school counselor an effective helper for students.
As school counselors, we not only have to be advocates and helpers, but we also need to be able to inspire students to strive for success. Not only do students look to us for advice and for help, but we should be inspiring them at the same time. Sometimes all that is ailing a student is a lack of enthusiasm or encouragement from parents or friends, we can be that person who is there to give those things to them. Inspiration leads to success and if we can inspire our students to strive for their goals, we are without question being effective helpers.
An effective school counselor is not on their own island. We have to be effective at working in teams and collaborating with other professionals in our schools in order to be the advocates that students need. A strong team has input from several areas, perspectives and can help a student in all areas of school life. Communication with teachers, principals and other school officials makes the school counselor’s job of helping students much more effective. We also have to be a team with our students and work through issues with them knowing that we have their best interest at heart. Teamwork takes time to build but it is absolutely necessary in order to be successful as a school counselor.
We have to make sure that our office is a safety zone where students can know they are safe to tell us anything. By creating a safe environment, we are allowing students to be real and feel safe to disclose information to us and not worry about the repercussions. Understandably, there comes a time we must intervene to make sure students are safe and not a harm to themselves or others and to make sure they are not in danger while at school or at home. Our office can be a place in school where students go and know they are protected and that we will do whatever it takes to help them. By creating this atmosphere, we are being effective helpers and allowing students to be free to speak their minds and know that their best interest is in mind always. 

As a school counselor, our attitude plays a huge role in how we are viewed by our students, our faculty and by parents. It is important to have a good attitude and be positive throughout the day in order for students to be able to listen to us and know that we care. We also need to try to inspire our students to always have a positive attitude and show them that they can do anything they set their minds to. Many times a student will not succeed because they do not have a good attitude. Our attitude is one thing we can always control and no matter what is happening in our personal lives, we have to keep a positive attitude at all times so we can help our students through their issues.
Trust is the single most important part of the student-counselor relationship. From our interviews and our meetings with school counselors, the one resonating fact has been that our students need to trust us to do what is best for them. Additionally, we also have to trust them as well to make good decisions. The four previous aspects that I have discussed are all building blocks to developing trust with our students, parents and other faculty we will be working with. Every person that we work with must trust us to do what is right and we always have to make sure that we never break the trust that students have in us.

If we are able to be successful in these 5 areas, I truly believe that we can call ourselves effective counselors and be the advocates for students that they need and deserve.

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