Friday, February 22, 2013

Stop using that term, we are Professional School Counselors

Advocate for our profession, share this graphic.
Each year it becomes tougher for me to contain my emotions when a school based mental health professional identifies him or herself as a "Guidance Counselor," or when an administrator or other member of the school community does the same; we are School Counselors. More appropriately, we are Professional School Counselors.
We are mental health professionals in school settings who do a lot more than "guide" students towards math & science careers. Sputnik launched in 1957 & our profession has come a long way since then. If you don't know how those two are connected, or why I make that reference, please make it your mission this weekend to figure it out.

Recently, Erin Mason, Melissa S. Ockerman & Stuart F. Chen-Hayes published an article to assist School Counselors in understanding the need to reflect upon their professional identity, the article is a must read for pre-service, in-service and seasoned School Counselors.

The ASCA National Model is in its' third edition and the Comprehensive School Counseling program is becoming the norm. Social media is becoming a School Counselor's most valuable tool and accountability to yourself, the profession & stakeholders is now, more than ever, of the utmost importance. If you are a School Counselor you must be able to not only answer the question, "How are students different as a result of what you do?" but also back it up with data. This is a process, but as long as we are striving to do better each year and committed to our stakeholders & annual goals, we are on the right track; the proof is in the process.

As a School Counselor, if you cannot change how you identify yourself and evolve as the profession has, you are not furthering the profession and I question whether or not you're meeting our ethical obligations, as School Counselors, of "responsibilities to self."

All School Counselors must have pride in the profession and what it has become, not just what it was initially created to do. Administrators, teachers and other stakeholders must become better educated on the pivitol role we play in each student's life, for the sake of our Nation's future.

Next time you hear someone use that term, remind them that this is 2013 and we prefer to be identified as "Professional School Counselors," because that's what we are and we do so much more than "guide."

What are your thoughts on this topic? Please comment below.


  1. I completely agree! My school colleagues are all so well-informed that whenever we are at a conference or have a guest speaker at school who uses the "G-word" there is an audible "oooooohhhh!" and knowing chuckles because they know the person is about to get a friendly but firm education! I haven't used the "professional" part, because "school counselor" indicates professional - are no school counselors who are not professionals - and we don't use the terms "professional physicians" or "professional accountants" or, within our own field "professional principals," "professional teachers," or "professional speech therapists." I'd love to hear the other side of this argument, though!

    1. Love that! I used to get eye roles, even from Counselors when I would introduce myself as a School Counselor, but many of them have since changed their view & title. I too use "School Counselor" in speech, but "Professional School Counselor" in letters & business cards. I do it because it's part of the stripes I've earned with my additional licensure.