School counseling has been around in the educational system for a long time. Counselors provide services such as individual counseling and academic guidance to help promote the social, mental and emotional growth of students. These are the professionals who work round the clock to support families, adolescents and children.

Mostly, counselors will work with students in small groups or individually. While they commonly guide school policies, they have many roles depending on the grade level of the students. For instance, school counselors may focus on career development or assist students in making friends.

Making the transition from teacher to school counselor

Teachers are driven by the passion to help students succeed. However, it can be difficult to cultivate a relationship with your students due to administrative duties. Many educators are therefore considering a career change from school teacher to school counselor.

If you are a teacher who is passionate about mentorship, mental health and education, then the shift from teacher to school counselor is an excellent choice. You can start this transition by earning a Master of Science in Education School Counseling (MSED SC) at St. Bonaventure University. The online program is specifically designed to ensure that you have a successful career as a school counselor.

Techniques used by school counselors

School counselors provide a variety of services to students and families. They are the first line of guidance and support for students. Therefore, these professionals assist with everything from education to mental health and social support.

Contrary to what most people think, the realm of school counseling goes beyond offering emotional support to students during difficult times. While emotional support forms a huge part of their work, school counselors also act as career advisors, educational navigators and proactive agents of change in society. They work together with parents, teachers and students to create a conducive environment for academic success, emotional wellbeing and personal growth.

Think of school counselors as the pillars of guidance and support within educational institutions. They therefore need to use an array of techniques, approaches and strategies to address the unique needs of students. Doing this helps foster the holistic growth of individuals in their care.

Below, we take a detailed look at the most common techniques used by school counselors. Read on to understand how each technique used by school counselors is a tailored response to meet the needs of their students.

Individual counseling

One-on-one interaction between a school counselor and a student is referred to as individual counseling. These sessions provide a confidential and safe environment where a student can freely express their needs. Here, students can talk about their issues, emotional challenges and academic concerns.

For starters, school counselors leverage active listening to understand the emotions and concerns of students. They pay close attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues to better comprehend what the student may be going through at the time. In most cases, the school counselor will ask follow-up questions to help guide the conversation and get to the root of the problem.

During individual counseling sessions, school counselors show empathy and validate the feelings of the students to better connect with them. Doing this shows the student that the counselor cares for their wellbeing and is ready to offer support. Equally, empathetic responses ensure that the student feels valued and heard.

School counselors then guide the students through the process of solving the problem. This includes identifying the specific problem, exploring possible solutions and setting realistic goals. The student can therefore have a clear objective in mind on how to deal with the issue.

However, school counselors may also employ cognitive behavioral techniques. These techniques help students to manage stress and improve their coping techniques. They are also critical when dealing with students who have negative thought patterns.

School counselors understand local, state and national programs and requirements that may influence the future careers and college opportunities of their students. They therefore play a critical role in career and academic planning. During individual counseling sessions, they can assess the student’s strengths and interests while encouraging a selection of relevant programs to support their career and college goals.

Finally, school counselors use individual counseling to help students set both long-term and short-term goals. Doing this ensures that children and teenagers have a clear direction and motivation throughout their studies. They can therefore live a fulfilling and happy life.

Group counseling

School counselors may consider group counseling when dealing with small groups of students who share a common challenge or concern. It is often based on themes such as anger management, social skill development and anxiety regulations. Therefore, group counseling offers skill development, peer support and a sense of belonging.

School counselors start by facilitating group discussions and encouraging students to share their experiences. Equally, they will ask that the students find a way to support one another through the specific challenge or concern. Addressing the group dynamics helps ensure that they provide a respectful and safe environment for the students.

Equally, group counseling may address interpersonal conflicts among the students. School counselors can use this opportunity to provide students with strategies to resolve any disputes they might have. Doing this helps maintain healthy relationships within the school and community at large.

Subsequent group counseling sessions often start with members reporting what has improved since the last meeting. The school counselor can use this time to assess any progress or setbacks that each individual might have. Equally, members can offer help to fellow students who are still struggling by offering suggestions based on what is working for them.

In addition, school counselors will also incorporate fun activities into the group counseling sessions. This can include everything from games such as ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ and ‘Common Ground’ to artistic expressions such as painting and sculpting. Fortunately, there are several solution-oriented activities that school counselors can employ to get the best results.

Skill-building activities during group counseling sessions also empower students with tools for personal growth. They can learn to manage their stress levels, enhance communication and solve everyday problems.

Finally, group sessions foster a sense of community and peer support. The students learn that they are not the only ones undergoing specific challenges or concerns. Therefore, they can relate to one another’s experiences and offer encouragement and insights.

Academic guidance

School counselors offer counseling programs that enhance the growth of students in three main areas: career, emotional and academic development. Therefore, these school counselors implement activities and strategies to ensure that all students achieve academic success. They instill behaviors and mindsets that each student needs to maximize their ability to learn.

For starters, school counselors understand that they play a pivotal role in academic guidance. They should assist students in setting and achieving their academic aspirations and overcoming academic challenges. Equally, school counselors act as guides to making appropriate course selections.

By working with administrators, school counselors can develop an inclusive school culture that prioritizes academic development. They particularly use their influence to ensure that the support staff and teachers create an environment that encourages them to reach their full potential. Doing this encourages students to engage in challenging coursework while enhancing their self-belief.

School counselors help students with educational planning. They work with the students to create academic plans that align with their abilities, interests and long-term goals. Through these sessions, they can offer appropriate guidance on academic pathways and course selection.

A school counselor’s role also includes teaching students effective study strategies, organizational skills and time management. These soft skills ensure that students can attain academic excellence and achieve their goals. Managing student workload also becomes easier once the student understands the above study skills.

In some cases, school counselors may offer test preparation workshops. They help students perform well in standardized tests such as the SAT by providing valuable resources. Some counselors may even go a step further by offering tips for stress reduction when taking tests.

Academic guidance also includes college and career readiness. School counselors take students through the process of choosing appropriate careers and colleges. They help with career assessments, college applications and getting financial assistance.

For students with diverse academic needs, school counselors may help with course placement. They are directly involved in ensuring that the student gets the best possible education. This may include anything from special education services to advanced placement.

Career counseling

There have been several reports on the shortage of skilled workers in the US over the past years. Therefore, students must get the best possible career education right from kindergarten. Luckily, school counselors help to bridge this gap through career counseling.

Career counseling assists students in exploring their skills, interests and values. They can therefore make informed career decisions that dictate their future. These students are knowledgeable about the different options and are prepared to succeed.

School counselors start by matching students with their potential career paths. They leverage career assessment tools to assess what best suits the strengths and interests of each student in their care. These tools offer invaluable insights, including each student’s unique abilities and their chances for qualifying in the chosen field.

Through individual counseling sessions, school counselors go through educational requirements and career options with the students. They discuss various industries and provide information about job market trends. The students therefore have a better picture of what to expect in the world of work and how to succeed.

Another critical role of school counselors in career counseling is resume building. They help students create effective cover letters and resumes. Equally, school counselors may also teach job search strategies and interview preparation.

School counselors can connect students with various internship opportunities. This can include vocational training programs and job shadowing experiences depending on what best suits the student. These practical experiences ensure that teenagers can gain valuable insights into their chosen fields.

Finally, school counselors make sure that students set an achievable timeline. They collaborate with educational staff and families to help the students stick to the plan. Doing this ensures that all the students have the best possible path to their dream job.

Referrals to specialized services

In some cases, a student might require specialized services such as community resources, special education support and mental health counseling. It is the responsibility of the school counselor to ensure that these students get the help they need. Doing this helps with the social and emotional development of the child.

First, school counselors will conduct an assessment to determine the specific needs of the student. They will then evaluate the case and identify any learning disabilities, social issues or emotional concerns. School counselors may determine that other resources are more appropriate, including referral to the school nurse, administrator or specialized personnel.

Using community resources, school counselors make sure that the students get appropriate help from professionals. If outside help is needed, the school counselor will refer the student to a specific practice or therapist after discussions with the guardian or parent. However, the school counselor is obligated to report any suspected cases of neglect or abuse.

Families of affected students also rely on school counselors for resource navigation. The school counselor will provide all the information and resources they need to cope with the situation and create a happy home. The families gain access to external support, community organizations and therapy – depending on what is most appropriate.

Finally, school counselors act as advocates for students with special needs. They do more than just communicate with teachers and administrators – they also ensure that the necessary services and accommodations are available to these students.


Psychoeducation is a vital tool in the treatment of mental health disorders. It involves providing students with information and education on topics related to emotional wellbeing, life skills and mental health. The goal of psychoeducation is to teach coping mechanisms, thus improving quality of life.

With psychoeducation, school counselors aim to make students with mental health disorders become experts. By making sure that students have enough information about their condition, they are more likely to feel less alone. They will also know where to go and what to do when they find themselves in situations such as panic attacks.

Psychoeducation usually starts with ensuring that the student is aware of their mental illness. Doing this helps them understand their situation better and learn to accept it. They will also understand that each person’s symptoms vary and treatment options may also differ.

The primary role of school counselors in psychoeducation is to organize workshops and presentations. Here, the students can learn about topics such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, stress management and substance abuse prevention. Students undergoing these issues can therefore effectively start learning about the symptoms.

School counselors will then distribute educational materials on the above topics. In most cases, these handouts and brochures will include information on crisis hotlines and self-help strategies. Students will therefore know how to cope with situations that make them depressed or mentally ill.

School counselors have been known to also create awareness campaigns around sensitive issues such as mental health and bullying. These campaigns will help promote understanding and support within the school community. Students affected by these issues will have no problem admitting to their friends and teachers that they need help.

In some cases, school counselors may establish peer support programs. They train student mentors on how to help students deal with mental health issues. These mentors provide resources and guidance as well as relapse prevention plans.

In times of emergencies, school counselors provide psychoeducation support to the affected students. They help them to cope with the situation and find better ways of dealing with their triggers in the future. Doing this is especially useful when things get out of hand and immediate attention is needed to guarantee the safety of everyone.


Techniques employed by school counselors act as the foundation for students to achieve mental, social and emotional growth while navigating the educational journey. School counselors are resources of wisdom within the academic landscape. They serve as guides, mentors, advocates and champions of wellbeing.

The work of school counselors goes beyond academic advising and delves into personal growth, community building and emotional support. They are directly involved in the development of well-rounded individuals who are academically gifted and can navigate the complexities of life.

If you are looking to have an impact on students’ lives, then a career as a school counselor is an excellent fit. Working as a counselor is not only fulfilling but also offers opportunities for career growth.