BlogWhat is a school guidance counselor and and how can one help my child?

Choosing what to do after high school can be one of the most daunting decisions a teenager has to make. There are so many questions that come up related to core issues the soon-to-be- adult faces, not to mention the challenges he or she has already overcome from kindergarten to 12 th grade. A guidance counselor can be of immense help in navigating the tricky waters of what it means to be kid and the choices that must be made, the consequences of which will carry over well into adulthood.

What is a guidance counselor and what do they do?

Guidance counselors offer their support to students at all levels, all the way up through the end of high school. They help students deal with challenges from disabilities to bullying, from low self-esteem to low academic performance, as well as relationship woes. Sometimes a guidance counselor will refer the student to a more specialized mental health professional is needed. A guidance counselor also plays a crucial role in helping students navigate the transition from high school to college or other further education choice, and all of the pitfalls that come with it. They will help a student examine their abilities, interests and personalities to together develop realistic academic and career goals. Guidance counselors also support students in aptitude tests and preparing for them (SAT, ACT, etc.). It is the mission of every guidance counselor to set the students up on a path of success that highlights their strengths and personal needs. A guidance counselor will often play a very large role in supporting a student through very impactful decisions regarding their future.

What are the exact functions of a guidance counselor?
  •  Support students with academic, emotional or social problems
  • Aid students to process their issues and come up with goals and action plans
  • Act as a mediator in conflict between teachers and students
  • Facilitate better parent/teacher relationships
  • Provide comprehensive assistance with jobs, scholarships and college applications
  • Oversee drug and alcohol prevention programs
  • Organize peer counseling initiatives
  • Refer students to therapists and other mental health professionals
  • Work on academic boards and bodies to better learning conditions
How is a guidance counselor different from a psychologist or therapist? How are they the same?

Counselors working in high schools will accompany their students along the path of higher education and career planning, while counselors who work with younger students will usually focus on developing social skills as well as study habits. A school psychologist is usually focused more on intense mental health needs that require a more tailored approach. They will conduct psychological assessments and also work on and implement intervention plans. School psychologists will also work with school management to develop and roll out education policies that support mental health at school. Psychologists and guidance counselors both work closely with parents, administrators and faculty members and the roles are becoming increasingly intertwined, often with close cooperation between the two if they are both available.

How can my child start to work with a guidance counselor?

At Polish American WWW School, we know how important the role of a guidance counselor is to students. That’s why we have a person dedicated to holding this space for the kids and teenagers that are enrolled with us. We also work with qualified child psychologists for issues outside of the scope of our guidance counselor. A good guidance counselor can have a lasting impact on a child’s future, helping them to feel supported and seen. Their capacity to positively influence the academic performance and self-perception of students throughout their time at school should not be underestimated. Sometimes this is the difference between a student just surviving elementary, middle and high school versus actually thriving during this period, emerging as an extremely valuable addition to adult society.

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