Frequently Asked Questions for Elementary School Counselors
1. What do you do at school?
School counselors design and implement social and emotional supports for students, parents, and staff members. This includes teaching guidance lessons in the classrooms, holding small group counseling sessions, consulting with parents and teachers, and short-term individual counseling sessions. I also maintain student and staff sensory support items and rooms on campus.
You will see me all over McCoy! Most of the time I'm working directly with students in small groups, individual sessions, or in classrooms. I also manage to pop into the cafeteria, the front office, and you can find me with students outside.
2. Who can see the school counselor?
Any student on campus has access to the school counselor. Students can ask to see me, or they can be referred by parents or staff members.
3. My student saw the school counselor, but I wasn’t called. Why is this?
School counselors are everyday members of the school team! There are times when we step in to mediate typical school disagreements or talk a student through an unusually bad day or situational challenge. In these singular instances you may not be notified.
I will make parent contact when a student is unable to regain emotional composure in a reasonable amount of time and/or if I see that he or she may benefit from counseling more often. In that case, parents will be consulted and asked to sign consent for ongoing school counseling.
If you ever have any questions about my visit with your student, please feel absolutely free to let me know.
4. What does confidentiality look like for students in elementary school counseling?
School counseling sessions are confidential. What is said in the counseling room remains private, unless there is concern regarding unsafe situations (i.e. abuse/neglect) or with regards to court proceedings.
It is important to note that while counseling sessions are confidential and private, many times parents and teachers benefit greatly from knowing about various strategies and techniques the students are learning. At this young age, students need modeling, support, and reinforcement for learning social and emotional skills. In those situations I am upfront with the students about what I will share with specific important people in their lives.
5. What is the difference between school counseling and outside counseling?
In GISD elementary school counselors provide services and support for schools ranging in population from 500 to 900. Typical school days vary in terms of student needs and campus events, so school counseling does not have the intense and regular session set up that outside counseling has. The focus of school counseling is giving our kids the tools they need to be successful in school, for example... managing strong emotions at school, persevering on challenging tasks, goal setting, friendships, character development, etc.
The average caseload for an outside counselor or therapist ranges from 25 to 40 clients. Therefore, outside counselors are able to attend to deep and ongoing needs for potentially extended periods of time. The focus of outside counseling can include school challenges, but also addresses family systems issues and/or specific mental health and clinically significant emotional conditions.