Professional Organizations for School Counselors

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a school counselor, you can sometimes feel isolated and in need of a professional community. This lesson teaches you about professional organizations for school counselors, how you can access them, and how they will help you.

Why Professional Organizations Matter

As a school counselor, you may sometimes feel isolated at work. Schools often only have one counselor, and while you may work with teachers and administrators, it can be lonely to be the only one in your specific position. Moreover, you probably spend a good portion of your day working with children. This is rewarding, of course, but it does not necessarily provide the intellectual stimulation or professional support you need.

One place to look for this kind of support is professional organizations, which are groups that work to make policies, plan meetings, and offer guidance. These organizations often have strong digital media presences and even local professional development opportunities that you might find helpful. Often, professional organizations are organized geographically.

Joining a professional organization can be a wonderful way to meet colleagues, learn more about the latest research and techniques in your field, and develop a supportive community. This lesson will discuss some national organizations for school counselors, as well as organizations at state, regional and local levels. We will focus on organizations specifically oriented toward helping school counselors come together and develop a professional ethos.

American School Counselor Association

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is the major national organization for supporting school counselors. The ASCA offers numerous professional development modules and resources and hosts an annual conference for presentations of research and practice. The ASCA also offers free podcasts to members and publishes three separate journals dealing with different levels of school counseling. ASCA has a public relations branch that helps communicate the mission of school counselors with parents and the public.

National Association for College Admissions Counseling

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) is a slightly more specialized organization that can be very helpful to high school counselors who get involved in the college admissions process. NACAC also holds a national conference for counselors to come together and get tips on how to help students. It runs college fairs at different locations throughout the country and publishes action papers to help keep school counselors informed about contemporary issues in college admissions.

State Organizations

The ASCA has divisions in each of the fifty states as well as the District of Columbia. Each state association runs its own website and offers benefits to members. Some of the benefits to joining a state association include more localized updates on events, community building, and professional development opportunities, a more local lens on research, and a window into state policies or political issues that might impact your work as a counselor.

The size and activity level of state organizations varies depending on the state. However, these organizations do not typically require you to be a resident or employee in the state where the organization is. Therefore, if you live in a state where the organization does not meet your needs, you might consider joining the organization in a neighboring state.

Here are some examples of activities and benefits that come with state counselor organizations:

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