How does someone become a school counselor? In the US, school counselors must have certification from a Graduate Counseling program. Master's programs in Counseling help school counselor candidates hone their skills, making them qualified to address students' academic, career, and personal or social requirements. A graduate may take a position in a public or private elementary, middle, or high school after being awarded a degree with the completion of a program.
Graduate Counseling programs in School Counseling prepare degree candidates to become competent advisors who advocate personal development and academic achievement. Candidates are prepared to provide services to students and faculty in academic environments ranging from pre-Kindergarten to high school. As school counselors, program graduates must exhibit advanced capacity for empathy and reflection toward increasingly diverse school populations.
More than half of all Graduate Counseling programs in School Counseling are accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Per CACREP guidelines, an accredited program must offer specific curricula tracts, including courses in Human Development, Multicultural Counseling, Professional Identity and Ethics, and Career Counseling.
With the release of the updated 2009 CACREP standards, new programs seeking accreditation (or those up for reaccreditation) are required to promote evidence-based research and practice, and provide proof of compliance of positive learning outcomes. Graduate Counseling programs in School Counseling are also required to meet higher-than-ever standards in assessment, research and evaluation, diversity and advocacy, intervention and prevention, and best practice in leadership and consultation for K-12 school counseling populations.
Graduate Counseling programs are also using state-of-the-art technology to establish themselves at the head of their field. Counseling labs equipped with audio and video recording technology allow instructors to track degree candidates' skill acquisition and development, from entry into the program onward. Bookmarked videos are also useful for candidates: by reviewing their own videos, they're able pick out strengths as well as areas in need of improvement. This video technology skills training works hand-in-hand with candidates' required practica and supervised internships by readying them for real-life school counseling activity.
More is expected of school counselors than ever before. Counselors must advise the student population and work closely with course specialists and administration to develop programs and ensure a diverse array of student needs. It's up to Graduate Counseling programs to prepare school counselors to be active participants in the ever-evolving educational landscape.