Guidance Counselors can also help students identify their strengths in terms of future careers and collegiate paths, develop pathways for meeting these goals, and assisting students as they apply for colleges or technical schools.
The Guidance Counselor can be a key component in leading students towards success at the high school level.
What is Guidance Counseling?
In the years passed, schools all over the country employed counseling professionals to work with students in the school system. It was recognized that students navigating the school system were faced with challenging choices, situations, and adaptations that could potential compromise their successful transition from youth to adult.
These challenges warranted the need for counseling professionals to help children balance their social, emotional, educational, and future goals through planning and skill development. Guidance Counselors can assist students with identifying their own individual strengths and finding future paths that align with those strengths and their overall goals.
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What Do Guidance Counselors Do?
Guidance Counseling can also include educating students about the value of their life choices and how those choices can affect their growth. In some schools, this area of counseling may involve teaching students about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which can be detrimental to health and educational development.
Since children spend the majority of their young lives in the school system, Guidance Counselors can also act as mediators for conflict and help to identify students that are in need. Bullying, struggles with family relationships, and social conflict are just a few of the common issues that Guidance Counselors may assist students with during their experience in the school system.
Counselors in this career area may work with children in any of the K-12 grades. The role of the Guidance Counselor and the teaching tools used at each level can vary depending on needs, but the overall purpose of counseling in the educational setting is to provide children with safety and security for optimum growth and learning.
What Degree Levels are Available?
Guidance Counseling is a complex field that is built upon the foundation of knowledge in psychology, sociology, and education. Most states require that you achieve a minimum of master’s level education prior to pursuing licensure, making the master’s the most popular degree level for professionals in this field.
Bachelor’s of Guidance Counseling
At the bachelor’s level, students interested in this field often engage in Bachelor’s in Psychology, Counseling, or Social Work as a means for meeting their career goal. Each of these programs allows students to explore the emotional and psychology development of children and youth, creating a foundation of helpful knowledge for their future careers.
In order to receive a license in this area of counseling, students must also engage in CACREP-accredited degree programs focused on School or Guidance Counseling. The master’s can be completed online or in-person, with the CACREP currently accrediting a variety of both options all over the U.S.
Masters in Guidance Counseling
The Master’s in School Counseling is the most widely enrolled program for people in this career field. This program can include some experience requirements that can provide learners with the observational opportunities needed to connect their curriculum with real-world application.
Opportunities for learning do not cease at the master’s level – even though that is where a lot of graduates end their learning experience. Some colleges even provide doctoral level programs in School Counseling for students to further their development in this field.
Doctorate in Guidance Counseling
The Doctorate in School Counseling can provide learners with a higher understanding of Guidance Counseling functions and even provide learners with a supervisory element to take into their new careers. Ph.D. programs can also be found through online universities, which allows students to explore research associated with this field and its benefits to future applications of counseling in the school environment.
Online Master’s Programs
New learners in the field of Guidance Counselors can achieve their dream of working in this field after completion of a Master’s in School Counseling program. The online master’s programs currently available can provide students with the highest level of flexibility for the same quality of education found in traditional programs.
Most of the online and accredited programs leading to Guidance Counselor careers are titled Master’s of School Counseling, since that is one of the accreditation titles provided by the CACREP. This program can provide you with the skills and practical elements needed to be an influential leader to students in the school system.
Online and accredited Master’s of School Counseling programs can be found at universities such as Adams State University and Bradley University. Each of these programs has met the requirements for accreditation, which is an important component in receiving a professional license in your state.
Since these popular and in-demand programs are available in the online environment, students from all over the country can qualify for enrollment in them. If you are ready and willing to begin your journey towards careers in Guidance Counseling, these programs could be exactly what you need for future success.
While enrolled in online and accredited Guidance Counseling degree programs, students may be expected to complete course work that aligns with their future roles in educational systems. Programs that are seeking or maintaining accreditation may be required to have their curriculum reviewed regularly in order to ensure that they are teaching valid elements to upcoming professionals.
Students enrolled in degree programs focused on Guidance Counseling can engage in courses such as Counseling Theories for Children and Adolescents during their learning experience. This course can be in integral part of professional development in this field, since it can explore some of the functional and developmental methods for communication and guidance to young clients.
This course can identify theories associated with normal and abnormal emotional development in school-aged children, as well as some of the meaningful therapeutic approaches to helping them work through difficult circumstances in their lives. While in this class, you may also explore the development of counseling with this age group from its outset to current.
Counseling for College Readiness is another course that is common in the School Counseling program. Since your role as Guidance Counselor may include identifying skills and assisting students with planning for college, it may be important for you to have the tools needed to identify college readiness in the students you serve.
There are different tools in the school system that can help you work with children that are quickly transitioning into collegiate learners. Skills assessments, academic testing, and goal setting are a few of the components included in this course that you can utilize while helping your students thrive.
Additional courses included in this degree program can include Individual Counseling Strategies and Group Counseling Theory. Each of these courses can provide you with the skills you need to provide individualized and widespread guidance to the children being served.
Path to Working in this Area
- Bachelor’s: The beginning of your journey towards a career in Guidance Counseling should begin with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, Counseling, or even Social Work. This stage of your training may last around 4 years and can open doors in entry-level positions in the field.
- Master’s: If you are seeking out counseling positions in the school system, the Master’s in School Counseling is the minimum requirement for licensure in most states. Most master’s programs include some practical components that can put you in school systems under the supervision of licensed Guidance Counselors.
- Supervised Experience: In order to receive your license as a Guidance/School Counselor, your state may require that you spend a certain amount of time working under the supervision of licensed School Counselors in the K-12 setting. This requirement may vary in length, with most states requiring around 1 year of supervision.
- Testing: One of the final steps towards licensure is passing a board examination and becoming certified. The National Counselors Examination is required for prospects seeking National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) certification.
- Licensure: Your education, experience, and certification are all components that can combine together and result in your licensure. Each state may have differing application requirements for their Guidance Counselors, so research what documentation and application processes need to be followed to achieve this goal.
Important Organizations to Know
As a new Guidance Counselor entering the field or a curious prospect looking for more information, engagement in professional organizations can provide mounds of information about this field and its growth. Organizations related to Guidance Counseling can provide you with literature related to the development of the field as well as opportunities to network with others in your field.
American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
The most popular professional organization for Guidance Counselors is the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Membership with this organization can provide you with access to new research findings, methods, and communications in the field of School Counseling.
Like many other professional organizations, becoming a member of the ASCA can also inform you of upcoming conferences or gatherings that can help to further educate you on the methods used for success in school systems. Joining this organization could be a valuable source of support to you throughout your career.
American Counseling Association (ACA)
In addition to the ASCA, another organization to consider during your professional career is the American Counseling Association (ACA). The ACA is the most prominent membership option for counselors in any specialty and is joined by counselors in all disciplines.
The ACA can provide you with endless resources to help strengthen and grow your knowledge in the field of Guidance Counseling. Professional networking with counselors through this organization can also allow you to have access to career opportunities, gatherings, and tools for success during your involvement.
Guidance Counselor Career Options
Movement through your bachelor’s and master’s program, as well as your supervised experience requirement can move you steps closer to beginning your career in the field. A professional license in School Counseling can also be a factor that can open up more opportunities in this career field.
The most popular career option for prospects of this field is in School Counseling. As described in the previous sections, these professionals are involved the in the social, emotional, and educational development of school-aged children and can be influential leaders within their lives.
Alternative career paths for this type of educational field include Career Counseling, which engages adolescents and adults in finding meaningful and relevant career paths. Career Counselors can work in schools, colleges, or even career centers within your local area.
Your knowledge of this field and the methods used for student success can also make you a valuable researcher for field development. If you pursue a career in research, you might be part of a team responsible for testing new techniques or methods and promoting the use of these tools in schools all over the U.S.
Guidance Counselors can also move on to supervisory positions responsible for overseeing the work of counselors in the educational environment. In this career, you could work for school systems or even at the local government level – acting as a leader and director for counseling programs in your area.