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What is an Educational Counselor?

An educational counselor provides academic, personal and therapeutic support for a broad array of students. This job leverages counseling concepts and psychology tools to promote student development and facilitate student success. They may spend a portion of their time in individual counseling sessions or in group sessions through workshop programs and campus outreach activities.

An educational counselor, often referred to as a school counselor, is a crucial member of educational world. They assist students each day and can have a big impact on not only their academic careers but also their mental health. Let’s learn more about educational counseling and how it works…

Main Responsibilities

Educational counselors encourage, intervene and advocate for students experiencing personal, academic and other developmental difficulties. They are an important member of the school staff because of the educational guidance they can provide to young students. Most educational counselors work in K-12 public schools and collaborate with school staff, teachers and psychologists. These educational counselors provide general guidance and faculty support to help diverse students be successful in the classroom. The most common problems include anxiety, home life, study skills and stress management.

This often includes retention counseling to students on probation status or academic risk status. They interpret and explain school policy to students, parents, staff and faculty.

An educational counselor can greatly help a student with career developmental techniques. This may include advising students in planning their goals and organizing their lives to achieve educational goals and desired outcomes. While a school counselor can help with what is going on in school, they can also transition into somewhat of a career counselor for students who are approaching graduation. Career counseling may include helping students find the right major and degree program for them, apply to colleges, apply for financial aid, etc. School counselors can also help students with career planning if they are choosing not to attend college and are starting their job search. This can include finding their students job openings, community events, and other resources that will be helpful for career counseling.

School counselors must prepare and maintain accurate and timely case management notes in order to properly help their students. Educational counselors in public schools may communicate with attorneys, clinical counselors, private psychiatrists, social workers and court advocates regarding their student-clients.

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Expected Education

Educational counselors are expected to have a Master’s degree in their field. This could include degrees in psychology, counseling and social work or other similar educational programs. School staff and administrators may transition into their career, but they usually obtain credentials through national certification bodies. Most employers prefer candidates who are bilingual with a background in licensed therapy. Educational counselors who work in public schools will need knowledge of special needs, foster care and disadvantaged students.

Educational counselors who work in colleges should have academic training in student admissions, support services, career plans and financial aid. They should have familiarity with academic advising and assessment. These educational counselors should firmly understand career guidance, resources and techniques. They should also know financial aid options, barriers and procedures. Educational counselors may need training and experience in providing individualized advising to either child, teenage or adult populations.

Educational Counseling at Work

Educational counselors are a wonderful addition to both private and public schools. While educational counseling is not meant to provide students with long term mental health therapy, they are considered mental health professionals because of their work. An educational counselor or school counselor is brought into the school system to help students with all of their developmental needs. As mentioned, they can be found in both private and public schools. A parent or guardian may also book their children sessions with an educational counselor who has a private practice or is a part of a larger outreach program. This may be helpful for children who are homeschooled or who don’t have access to a counselor at school.

The Challenges of Educational Counseling

Some educational counselors may work in group home, special education or mental health settings with foster children or high-risk adolescents who exhibit severe emotional and behavioral challenges. These educational counselors must have the abilities to create concise documentation, produce behavioral assessments and relate to young clients who face severe emotional challenges. These educational counselors must interact in a professional way and communicate in a therapeutic manner with clients who may be violent, demeaning and aggressive.

Educational counselors who work in public schools will not face such consistent hostility, but they must understand of psychiatric illness, treatment plans and intervention techniques. They must verbally communicate with individuals from diverse cultures, disciplines and backgrounds. As a result, many educational counselors exhibit strong leadership and organization skills as they participate in programs and contribute to quality improvement activities.

Many state governments require educational counselors to have a master’s degree. Every state requires them to obtain and maintain a state-issued license. Learn how to become a school counselor at the American School Counselor Association’s website.

Related Resources:

Top 30 Master’s in Educational Counseling
Top 30 Master’s in Educational Counseling Online
5 Ways to Further Your Education as a Licensed Professional Counselor
Top 25 Master’s in Career/Professional Counseling