Children and teenagers need counseling to overcome some issues that they cannot freely share with their parents or peers. Most schools realize this need and hire professional counselors for their students.
However, sometimes students do not get the help they need because the counselors intimidate them or lack the skills to handle their issues.
Counseling children or young adults is different from counseling adults. If you aspire to work with students in the future, here are some major characteristics a professional school counselor must have.
1. Open and Friendly.
Students open up about their issues depending on the environment. If they feel safe and free, they will talk about any issues that the counselor brings up.
Sometimes parents are too harsh or have high expectations of their children. Children from such homes tend to hide their issue until they find a friendly setting. A good school counselor bridges the gap between parents and children.
The counselor must be open and friendly enough for students to open up and tell the truth.
However, he or she must also be firm and have a professional approach to solving issues. Sometimes students will not do their part after a session if the counselor has no boundaries. Children are quick to learn boundaries and determine if the environment is safe or not.
2. Excellent Listening and Communication Skills.
One of the lessons that counselors learn when pursuing their Master of Education in School Counseling is communication skills. Effective communication includes good listening skills. You cannot help anyone to solve an issue if you do not listen and understand the real problem.
Sometimes the child will go for counseling to improve their learning abilities or grades. However, if the counselor listens keenly to the child, he or she will uncover some issues that led to poor performance.
The counselor should have good communication skills that enable him or her to advise children or teenagers in their language. The tone and attitude of the counselor will either invite the student to implement the advice or avoid further counseling sessions.
3. Organization Skills.
Most schools do not have enough resources to hire as many counselors as the students need. The ratio of students to counselors is often high. In some cases, teachers assume the role of a counselor if they have basic training in school counseling. Hence, a good school counselor must be organized to handle his or her workload.
A day at work may include counseling sessions from morning to evening with no breaks in between. Parents and administrators expect reports of the performance of students and other issues from the counseling sessions. Hence, counselors must have excellent organization skills to handle their all responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed.
Fatigue will affect the counselor’s listening skills and assessment when handling students.
4. Evaluation and Assessment Skills.
Counselors do more than listen and give advice. Some issues require students to take tests before, during, and after the counseling sessions.
In some cases, the counselor must assess a student’s performance over time to define his or her problem clearly. In addition, sometimes students are unable to articulate issues clearly or are unwilling to open up to the counselors.
With excellent evaluation and assessment skills, counselors can decipher additional information from the students.
The skills are also critical when preparing reports because school administrators and parents rely on such reports to make decisions. The decisions, in this case, include further measures to improve the learning environment or help students improve their learning skills.
5. Be Willing to Offer Support.
School counselors must have a different approach from other professionals. Counseling goes beyond completing a series of tasks within a certain period or in a day. The professionals are hired to offer support and improve the learning environment.
The students need a professional guide to issues or events that affect their learning. Some require a series of sessions to overcome their fears and resume normal learning.
Si the school counselor must be willing to offer the care and support that each student under their care requires until they complete their studies. Some students may require support after traumatizing events, even if the issues do not affect their school performance.
Counseling sessions ought to be confidential, even when kids are involved. Students will only talk freely about their private lives if they think that the school counselor is trustworthy.
Some issues must be communicated to the parents, especially when a student needs urgent or additional help. However, the counselor must know what to share with parents, depending on the problem at hand.
For instance, some kids who open up about abuse at home expect the counselor to offer support without involving the perpetrators. If the counselor breaks the trust, a child may choose to suffer in silence to avoid further victimization. At the same time, the counselor must win the trust of parents and school administrators.
7. Living a Balanced Life.
Sometimes the workload placed on a school counselor pushes them to work for long hours every week. Counselors need enough time to rest and rejuvenate. These professionals play a critical role that requires a clear and focused mind to make a sound judgment.
They need to be able to disconnect and spend time with their families or pursue their hobbies and interests after work. Good counselors apply the same advice they give to others to their personal lives. Otherwise, work-related stress and excess fatigue will affect their effectiveness in their role.
Students long for compassion, care, and love when going through hardship. Most of the issues that bother students come from home or their social groups. School counselors must be quick to discern when a student needs compassion or attention from an adult.
The counseling session does not have to end with a list of do’s and don’ts. Sometimes the students just need to know that someone knows and cares about their personal struggles.
Good counselors are naturally empathetic.
The compassion compels them to offer continued support until their patients overcome their issues. However, empathy should not crowd a counselor’s judgment or decisions. Sometimes deviant students manipulate school counselors with emotions and tantrums. A good counselor knows when to be compassionate and when to be authoritative.
School counselors encounter difficult students occasionally who challenge their decisions or advice. Some parents may also question their professionalism, especially when a child’s performance does not improve immediately.
The professional must have confidence in their assessment and decisions. Sometimes the decisions involve discontinuing sessions when students refuse to cooperate or listen to the counselors.
Students can tell if their mean words or attitude intimidate the counselors or not. The good news is that any professional can boost his or her personal confidence. For instance, professional training and good preparation before any session boost a counselor’s confidence in his or her skills.
We have listed to top traits that every school counselor should possess to do his or her job effectively. But counseling is more than a job or completing a task. The goal of every counselor should be to use his or her acquired and natural abilities to help others overcome overwhelming issues. Pursuing higher education and handling different issues improves a counselor’s effectiveness in his or her job.