How to Get Help from a School Counselor

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, you'll be learning what a school counselor does and how they can help you. By the end of the lesson you'll know how to get an appointment with a counselor in your school, what types of topics you can discuss with them, and the confidentiality of what you talk about.

What Is a School Counselor?

There's another girl in your history class that won't leave you alone. You used to be friends, but lately she's been talking behind your back and making fun of you in class. She says she's joking, but it doesn't feel that way. On Thursday, you even skipped class because you didn't want to see her. Your friend Jamie said she started seeing a school counselor and it helped a lot. You've never seen a counselor before, but maybe it would help so you don't miss class again. But how do you get started, and what exactly happens in a meeting with a school counselor?

Counselors can help you with bullying and a range of other topics

These are the questions we're going to answer today. School counselors are there to help you with any problems that arise in your life, including your family, friends, academics, or career goals. They're professionals with a degree in counseling and have experience helping young people with their problems. They've seen countless students before you and are familiar with a lot of the problems you might be going through. They can help you with emotional and physical issues, like drug and alcohol use, sex, conflicts with friends, bullying, or problems with your classes.

A counselor will teach you how to manage your emotions and advocate for yourself. It's easy to get overwhelmed with feelings during your teens and act out. A counselor can help you keep your feelings in check, while still asking for what you need to be healthy and happy.

How Do I Get Started?

By now, you're starting to see the possible benefits of counseling. So how do you get started? To start, you can simply stop by your counselor's office and ask to chat. Oftentimes, however, students don't know their counselors. Any adult can introduce you and help you sign up. Choose someone you're comfortable with, like a favorite teacher or coach. If you'd like to see the counselor regularly for scheduled appointments, your teacher will contact the counselor and send home a consent form to your parent, if you're under 18. Your parent will have to sign that you are allowed to go see the counselor, and you'll need to return it to your school.

Once your paperwork is set, you'll be assigned a counselor, unless you specified someone you'd like to work with. Your counselor will probably pull you out of class for your appointments, unless your school has time allotted for counseling. The appointments typically last between 20 and 30 minutes.

What Will Happen in My Appointment?

So what happens when you get in the office? Your counselor will shut the door so you can have some privacy. Don't worry though, the first appointment won't be an interrogation. You need to form a relationship with your counselor so they can get to know you. If you want, you can get right into your problems, but your first few sessions can just be about your life - who your friends are, what classes you like, who your family is. Your counselor will want to get a full picture of your life. If you don't want to talk about something, you don't have to. Just explain you're not comfortable talking about that, and your counselor can focus on something else. Counseling is for you, so you get to decide what you talk about. If you're not sure where to start, though, your counselor can help direct the conversation.

In your first appointment you can simply get to know your counselor

'Creative Commons A peer counselor with a mother' by (USDA) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As you form a bond with your counselor, they will start to talk to you about more pressing issues, depending on what you need. Counselors are familiar with all types of problems and won't judge. Don't be afraid to talk about sex, alcohol, or anything else going on!

Your counselor might take notes during your session. Don't worry, it's not to show anyone. It's for their own records, so they can reflect on what you need help with and then review the notes again before your next appointment.

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