How School Counselors Act as Advocates

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 counselors work on behalf of students and families as advocates. This lesson will explore this role of advocacy and will end with a brief quiz to test what you have learned.

Advocacy Defined

Has anyone ever stood up for you? Maybe a parent or a close friend defended you or protected you in some way. In other words, they had your back. This is the slang term for advocacy. An advocate works to protect others. They may work to make sure that the person or group is treated fairly. Advocates also strive to protect the rights of those they serve.

School Counselors as Advocates for Equity

Did you have a school counselor? If so, what did this individual do for you or on your behalf? Most students think that the school counselor is just someone to talk to about issues or to seek advice from in terms of academics. School guidance counselors also work as advocates, or change agents, to make sure that each and every student has the same opportunity for success, regardless of his or her ethnicity, gender, intellectual ability, race, religion or socioeconomic status.

To make sure that no child falls through the cracks, school counselors must have a broad understanding of the cultural, economic, political and social factors that affect student development. When and where appropriate, they may also lobby legislators and participate in public policy discussions that affect students.

School Counselors as Advocates For Education

As educational advocates, school counselors identify and evaluate developmental problems and external factors that affect student success. In this capacity, they help to promote a positive school environment that leads to positive student outcomes. For example, school counselors may design educational programs that raise awareness about issues that impact students and their families.

School counselors also act as liaisons between administrators and students or teachers and students. In this role, they may pursue relationships with school decision-makers and other advocates or advocacy organizations. School counselors also make sure that students and their families are aware of all the educational opportunities and services available to them, as well as track students' progress while they pursue their academic goals.

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