Developing a School Counseling Program

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

School counseling programs provide powerful resources for students and families. This lesson will discuss the necessary steps for developing a school counseling program. The lesson will end with a short quiz to test what you have learned.

School Counseling Program Goals

Did you ever meet with your school counselor? If so, what was the experience like? Did he or she help you with a personal or social issue? Perhaps you needed advice on which classes to take. Maybe you used your school counselor as a reference for a job or for college applications. These are just a few of the common responsibilities of a school counselor. There are countless other benefits of school counselors that often go unseen but not unnoticed.

School counseling programs exist to support student development through the educational process. Student success is the ultimate goal of school counseling programs. In order to enhance student success, school counseling programs must address academic, career, and personal development in students. These three aspects of student development are the hallmarks of a successful school counseling program.

Steps for Establishing a Program

There are several important and necessary steps to consider before developing a new school counseling program. Each of these steps is essential for supporting the overall success of students.

Step 1: Assess Needs

What was your high school like? Was it in the city, in the country, or in the suburbs? Think about the students and teachers. How would you describe them?

It is crucial for school counselors to understand the characteristics of the student population they will serve. For example, students who attend school in urban settings will likely have very different needs and face different issues than those who attend school in rural settings. Therefore, a critical first step in establishing a school counseling program is to assess the needs of students, parents and school staff.

There are many different ways that school counselors can assess the needs of those they will be supporting. A quick look at the demographic makeup of a particular town or school district will provide a general idea of what the students are like in terms of socioeconomic status, familial characteristics, and race and ethnicity.

Other ways to get a solid grasp on the needs of the students, their families, and school staff may include surveys, interviews, and town hall-style meetings. These methods provide great insight regarding the needs and desires of a particular population. They also serve to create awareness in terms of unique issues for a particular community. Once needs are addressed, the planning must move to events and the school calendar.

Step 2: Create an Events Calendar

What types of assemblies or meetings did your school hold for students? Most schools host pep rallies and parent meetings. Sometimes these types of events are simply for fun or to create camaraderie among students. However, a comprehensive school counseling program will plan events designed to support student success.

This step in the development of a school counseling program utilizes the school calendar in association with important deadlines for students. For example, students need to be aware of dates for college entrance exams. Other important dates might include deadlines for college applications, voting registration, and so on. School counselors work well in advance to integrate important dates and deadlines into the academic calendar.

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