School counselors are sometimes referred to as "guidance counselors," which is an outdated term referencing counselors who used to sit in their offices, manage schedules, and hand out college applications. Now, school counselors work with, advocate for, and support every student, utilizing both indirect and direct services that target socioemotional development, academic achievement, and college and career planning. School counselors work "behind the scenes" by advocating for students and families within cultivated systems of support; these are indirect services. However, the majority of a school counselor's time is spent on direct services where school counselors create and implement individual, group, and classroom (or even whole school!) curriculum focused on the comprehensive, multidimensional student. School counselors integrate these preventative and responsive services in order to ensure that every student has the capacity to reach their highest potential and become productive, well-adjusted adults.
How is a school counselor different from any other type of mental health counselor?
While school counselors might hold a similar degree to another form of mental health counselor, their scopes of practice are dissimilar. For example, while another mental health professional might schedule appointments with specific individuals, most likely surrounding a specific mental health topic, a school counselor works with every student, regardless of mental health status. A student can also see a school counselor for free, without even the mention of insurance or billing. Furthermore, school counselors do not diagnose students or prescribe medication. Finally, the confidentiality limits and laws vary slightly between school counselors and other mental health counselors.
What is confidentiality?
Confidentiality is an ethical term that refers to a school counselor's promise to a student that they will respect the student's right to privacy by not disclosing the information revealed to the counselor to a third party, except for under certain conditions. These conditions include: 1) if any individual is in danger of harm, such as child abuse or neglect, or 2) if disclosure is mandated by law, such as in the instance of a subpoena. In general, a school counselor's obligation is towards the student, and the needs of the student are considered above all others. Rest assured, though, that a student's parents/guardians will always be contacted in the event that their child is in danger of harm. If information is going to be disclosed to a third party, school counselors will most likely inform the student that this is going to take place prior to the third party disclosure.
How do I see the school counselor?
The easiest way to set up any kind of appointment with the counselor, whether through Google Hangouts, phone, or in-person, is to email, message, or call the school counselor. If the school counselor is in the office, feel free to "drop-in" as they would love to see you, if only to say hello. The counselor aims to be available during the majority of school hours, but sometimes meetings, crises, or other appointments pop up. In the case that the school counselor does not receive your phone call or message right away, do not worry! Go ahead and leave a message and patiently wait for a reply and it will come-ASAP!
Can you refer me to any outside mental health services?
For some students and families, seeking outside mental health services, or any outside resource, is a great option. Unfortunately, the school counselor will not refer any student or family to any specific outside resources. However, the school counselor is knowledgeable about the different resources and services available across communities and is more than happy to provide a list of those resources and services to any student or family for them to pick from.
How can I keep updated on announcements, events, and opportunities?
This is a great question! The school counselor aims to provide the most comprehensive program for all of our students. This means that announcements, events, opportunities, information and resources are often shared through the School Counseling Newsletter and SHAPA social media platforms.
Will you write a letter of recommendation?
The school counselor will write a letter of recommendation for any student given that the student is willing to have a conversation about their expectations for the outcome of the letter. The school counselor will also require that each student outlines their letter, with evidence supporting each character claim that is made, prior to the letter being written. The purpose of this step is to avoid vague and impersonal letters of recommendation, while also encouraging self-advocacy and communication skills. If you wish to receive a letter of recommendation or discuss accommodations for the above guidelines, email the request to the school counselor.
I need a transcript. Where do I get one?
If you are seeking high school transcripts, fill out the transcript request form on the SHAPA website. Transcript processing and delivery make take up to two weeks.
I have a question that you didn't answer.
The option to contact the school counselor for information, services or resources is always available, and the school counselor is more than happy to discuss any concerns or questions that you might have. For the school counselor contact information, navigate to the above "Contact Information" tab.