What does a School Guidance Counselor do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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A school guidance counselor assists students in and out of school. Guidance counselors work with students of all ages to help them succeed in school, make plans for the future, and address social and behavioral problems. Counselors tend to focus on working with a specific age group, such as elementary age children, middle schoolers, or students in high school. This job requires a degree in counseling, as well as certification.

At the high school level, the school guidance counselor meets with patients to discuss their strengths and weaknesses, as well as plans for the future. Guidance counselors can talk with students about potential careers, assist students with college and job applications, and provide interventions for students who are struggling in school. This work can include observing students in class and meeting with faculty members to discuss students who may be having problems.

For students in middle school, the work of a school guidance counselor is slightly different. Students at this age are often struggling with social problems. The counselor's role may be as someone who provides advice and friendly assistance to students who have trouble making friends or navigating the middle school social environment. On the flip side, guidance counselors can meet with bullies to stage interventions. Counselors also work with faculty to identify students who need extra help with their schoolwork or who appear to be having problems at home.


Guidance counselors who work with students in elementary and grammar school network with faculty and parents to keep an eye on students as they start their school careers. A school guidance counselor is especially sensitive to students with learning disabilities and social problems who could benefit from early intervention. Identifying students with issues like auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, and other disabilities that can interfere with learning ensures that these students do not fall by the wayside and have a chance at getting treatment so that they can do well in school.

Students of all ages can see a school guidance counselor for help with social skills, test-taking skills, and study skills. Guidance counselors are skilled at identifying potential areas of interest for students to get students active and involved, whether a student is a great fit for the theater department or a candidate for extra science classes. Counselors think about how to work with students to help them succeed at life, not just in academic environments, and their work can be quite diverse on any given day.


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Post 3

@pastanaga - Well, I think most of the time the high school guidance counselor is mostly focusing on career related problems, like kids who are having trouble completing homework and things like that, rather than the really deep and dark secrets of the student body.

I suspect that they probably do come across those kinds of problems, like people with depression and so forth, but they probably refer them on to psychologists rather than trying to treat them at school.

Post 2

@indigomoth - I don't know if that's true of every course of study for becoming a school counselor. Frankly, I don't know if many counselors would have the time to do this, since it seems like many of them are servicing more than one school and are run off their feet if they want to get any real amount of time with the kids at all.

I think it's a job where you could do a lot of good, but it would be such a difficult job to do well without burning out. When I think of some of the problems I encountered at my high school, without even looking for them, I know I would never want to be the person who has to look for them professionally.

Post 1

Something I learned recently which I found surprising is that guidance counselors actually have to work in schools during their course of study in order to learn how to do their job. I don't know why this never occurred to me before.

I guess, maybe because I figured that you wouldn't ever be able to sit in on school counseling sessions, since that would be an infringement of privacy.

Maybe they just ask the students if it's OK for another person to be in the room and some of them say yes.

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