4 Relationships Every School Counselor Should Have

Last updated: April 2020

Professional school counselors are master’s level school personnel who work with students in an academic setting to support their academic success, career skills, social and personal development. Through developed counseling skills and their understanding of student psychological and behavioral development, school counselors play an integral role in the success of students in school. Instead of engaging in administrative, inappropriate role tasks, school counselors focus on student success.

While they are often active in assisting students with their academic and career goals, they also provide other types of support to students. A collaborator is one of their most important roles. Coordinating with other school professionals is an expected school counselor competency. The collaborator role is also a proven valuable factor in student academic success. When school professionals collaborate in a team setting and share expertise, the students are exposed to an academic setting that places their overall development and academic success as a priority.

Working Alongside School Psychologists

According to the American Psychological Association, a school psychologist will work with children and their families in academic settings. They provide interventions in the form of assessments, program development and evaluation services to promote a better learning environment and the healthy development of all students.

School psychologists and counselors have different academic backgrounds that both contribute to the successful development of students.

While school counselors view students holistically - considering academic, behavioral, social and career development - school psychologists provide psychological assessments and address mental health needs.

School counselors and psychologists work together in the following ways:

  • Individual assessment collaboration: Combine assessment training backgrounds to provide effective multidisciplinary assessments. Both professionals bring a unique background to the individual assessment process. School psychologists use quantitative measurements, while school counselors use qualitative measurements with a focus on overall student development. Using both types of assessments provides a clearer interpretation of the student’s needs.
  • Family counseling interventions: Parent and familial involvement is important to academic success. School counselors and psychologists can work together with parents in consultation by providing educational courses and acting as parent advocates. They can also suggest at home interventions to strengthen family relationships.
  • Introduction of classroom interventions: Both school professionals can coordinate and create classroom interventions that address behavioral problems between groups or with individuals.
  • Organization of support groups: Counseling groups can target many developmental and career concerns at once. Groups are also effective in relationship building and can be invaluable for student academic development.

School Counselors Teaming Up With Nurses

School nurses prioritize physical health, disease management and promote a healthy learning environment. They are trained in chronic health conditions, public health, chronic diseases and the assessment of learning disabilities in the educational setting.

Collaborating and including school nurses in the network of care systemic approach is necessary for an all-inclusive student support system. Children may experience difficulty in succeeding academically or emotionally if their physical health conditions are not monitored. School counselors and nurses collaborate in the following ways:

  • Promotion of mental and physical health: School nurses can be an effective part in building awareness of mental health and how it relates to physical health conditions.
  • Implementation of self-harm programs: Through programs like Signs of Suicide Prevention Program, school nurses and counselors can work together to identify the symptoms of depression, self-injury and suicide.
  • Safe sex and relationship development: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50% of new sexually transmitted diseases in the United States occur among those ages 15-24. School counselors and nurses can work together on appropriate relationship development education and providing safe sex programs.

The Principal and School Counselor Relationship

The principal is often seen as the leader of the school. This leader is tasked with managing staff, the student body, daily operations of the school and being the top educator of the school. They aim to create a successful vision that guides school staff, community members and parents to provide an effective learning environment for students. Because the school principal is the leader of the school, collaboration is important for creating new strategies and measuring success. Principals and school counselors work together in the following ways:

  • Decision making in school wide strategies: Principals make many of the program decisions to improve and promote student outcomes. Working together can improve the chances of introducing new mental health related programs.
  • Collaborate on student success initiatives: Both school counselors and principals want their students to succeed. Collaboration can identify specific student body needs and develop customized programs and strategies to promote improved student academic success and developmental outcomes.
  • Create metrics to measure success: School counselors and principals may have differing views of what is considered student success. Before making any changes to current programs or introducing new counseling related programs, it is important to collaborate to create metrics for measuring success. This could be in the form of higher graduation rates, fewer behavioral concerns, or an increase in college acceptance rates.

How School Counselor and Teachers Collaborate

Teachers are the first line of intervention with students. They usually spend the most time with them during the school day. Utilizing their skills and understanding of student development, school counselors can help teachers maximize their student’s academic success. Together, the school counselor and the teacher can collaborate in the following methods:

  • Classroom management techniques: The school counselor and teacher can work together to identify and handle behavioral problems that halter academic development. School counselors are trained in behavioral assessment and may be called on to assess the seriousness of a problem or to tackle problems before they get out of hand.
  • Provide academic and career resources: Academic and career resources that are personalized to the student can help them overcome learning barriers and improve the individual student’s success. Often, these resources can be useful when working with students who have intellectual, developmental, emotional or behavioral disabilities.
  • Guide students in decision making skills: A student’s academic career may be overwhelmed with important decisions. The school counselor and teacher can guide the student in these important decisions by using reframing skills and exploring alternative decision outcomes.
  • Integrate counseling into the classroom: Collaborate to create lesson plans that integrate both academics and personal/social development increasing character development, problem solving and critical thinking skills.

According to the Wallace Foundation, education research shows that most school variables, considered separately, have at most small effects on academic learning. Collaboration between school professionals allows each system to combine unique backgrounds with varying interventions, ultimately leading to personal and social development, career and academic success and an effective learning environment for all students.

*Please note that the authors and editors of this article are not medical professionals. You should consult with your doctor if you have a mental or medical health concern.