Illinois School Counseling Services: Functions & Adaptation

Instructor: Isabel Acevedo

Isabel has taught Psychology in both English and Spanish. She has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is currently a doctoral student finishing a degree in Philosophy of General Psychology.

What do school counselors do and why are they an important part of the student's success? This lesson will briefly describe Section 10-22.24b, which are the qualifications needed to hire qualified personnel as well as what the school counselors role is.

School Counselor Requirements in Illinois

School counselors of the past simply handed out college applications, set up new schedules and helped students decide their career path. These days, they focus on the emotional, social and psychological well-being of students and are an essential part of helping them navigate their academic and emotional worlds.

Section 10-22.24b of the Illinois School Code contains the qualifications needed to hire qualified school counselors and outlines their role. School counselors are required to have a minimum of a Master's degree, which includes the completion of a year long internship. Upon graduation they also have to obtain a Professional Educators License (PEL), and being bilingual is a plus. Let's go over some of the many roles a counselor takes on.

School Counselor Services

A school counselor serves in three main areas:

  1. Academics
  2. College and careers
  3. Emotional/behavioral well-being

Duties within these areas include group counseling, providing referrals, developing effective programs, collaborating with teachers and establishing a connection with parents.

Parents can work closely with counselors to help stabilize any mental health conditions of their children. School counselors are trained to:

  • address a wide range of issues.
  • help make a smooth transition between middle and high school or high school and college.
  • know about scholarships and programs available.

Counselors are at the front of the line if a student has an emotional break down or needs to calmly help de-escalate a situation to put students at ease.

First generation parents can be unfamiliar with how the American educational system works. Jackie is a counselor who is trained to be open to other cultures and understand how much of an impact culture can have on a student's education. She assists the parents with resources and tools to help the student succeed. A bilingual counselor can make the student and family feel more comfortable.

IEPs, Bullying, and Other Problems

Many students also have family issues, trauma, ADHD, and social anxiety. These issues can impede the child from being successful within his/her academics. Jackie understands these issues and can help develop a learning plan that can accommodate for them. She collaborates with other professionals in making a student's individualized Education Plan (IEP), which helps determine accommodations or any other factors that will help a student succeed.

Bullying can cause high levels of anxiety and low self-esteem. Jackie knows how to minimize bullying and allow students to focus on their school work. She also creates groups for students in which they can receive support or new skills to take with them to their classroom.

Jackie can identify problems that students wouldn't normally speak up about and that parents might not be aware of. She keeps track of student success, discovers where a student is lacking, identifies patterns and reaches out to students who are struggling. She can also give appropriate resources to parents when needed.

Counselor Role: Elementary Level

Children can form relationships during elementary school that can set their path for all future relationships. Academic success during this time can also set the path for future academic success.

Maria is an elementary school counselor. She understands that she needs to reach her students at their level. This is a time in a child's life where they are developing their personality and self-concept. Maria provides coloring sheets for her check-in sessions with her students so they can sit down and color together while they talk about their day. She also finds clay for her kindergarten children so they can express their emotions with shapes, while she uses emotion worksheets for the fifth graders.

Maria must show a great level of compassion. Working with school-aged children can be fun, and Maria needs to get creative in order to learn how to approach children at this age.

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