I am often approached by parents, teachers, or administrators to counsel students. This should come at no surprise. I am a school counselor. But, what does that title entail? I have a master’s degree in counseling and my job is clearly outlined by the American School Counseling Association. However, sometimes the title of counselor is confused with therapist. As school counselors, we have responsibilities of meeting, working, and counseling students. Often I have found that if I counsel a student for whatever issue that is at bay, I am “expected” to be counseling that same student multiple months later. Frequently, I have noticed that my job is viewed as a therapist, one that meets with a person repeatedly or ongoing. There are times, that a student requires more than one visit and I need to visit with them consecutively. Conversely, I do feel as though most people do not understand the job of a school counselor. Which offers the ever-growing need to define and advocate your position. It is so important to define what your job is up front, to the student or parent. It is also pertinent to discuss how many sessions you expect to occur.
I love the grounds in which solution-focused brief counseling (SFBC) has laid out for school counselors. A significant amount of improvement for students can be obtained through the SFBC model. After rapport has been developed, counselors can begin concentrating on the area where change is needed, believe in the model that small changes in student behavior can have a ripple effect on others, focus on the small changes and build upon those to help resolve other tribulations, and work toward affirmative goals.
Do not allow yourself to be ambushed. You are not a keeper of a magic wand, although I love the magic wand model by SFBC. There are some students that need a psychologist or therapist. There are some students with issues that are bigger than you as a school counselor. Always, counsel and refer when needed. Let teachers, parents, and administrators know that you will work on the situation at bay and are always willing to see them if future dilemmas arise.
Do not allow yourself to be in a predicament of, "you are the all knowing and all healing." The counseling ambush of being locked into counseling with a student every week for the rest of their education. Advocate that counseling occurs on an individual basis.