The mere imparting of information is not education.
Above all things, the effort must result in making a
person think and do for himself.
Carter G. Woodson
Overview of the National Standards for School Counseling Programs
In the past, school counseling often received marginal support and limited
recognition from site administrators, district administrators, and members of the community. Regardless of the scant notice paid to the profession, its importance is obvious. School counselors, like teachers, are providers to our most important resource...our nation’s children.
Recent national and state legislation support the profession. In the past few years, more attention has been given to developing strong, consistent school counseling programs. The American School Counselor Association’s creation of the national counseling standards provide guidance and direction for delivering effective counseling services.
The American School Counselor Association, in its publications Sharing the Vision: The National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997) and Vision into Action: Implementing the National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Dahir, Sheldon, & Valiga, 1998), has classified into specific standards all of the services school counselors have traditionally delivered. Armed with this clearly defined, understandable information, counselors can deliver a program in three broad areas of student development, which include all aspects of human development...academic, personal/social, and career.
In the article, Standards-Based Counseling in the Middle School (Davis, 2000), the following explanation details the need for trained counselors.
Effective school counseling utilizes the special training of credentialed counselors and various counseling methods to deliver information and services. School counselors use the national counseling standards to assist students to learn and to apply the skills necessary to support continuing education and lifelong learning. The counseling standards guide the counseling program, including counselors, administrators, teachers, students, and parents, to focus on developmental competence.
The national standards offer reasonable guidelines for developing and implementing school counseling programs. Armed with the clearly defined, easily
understood information that is presented in the national standards, counselors can deliver an effective program in three broad areas of student development: academic, personal/social and career.
In Sharing the Vision: The National Standards for School Counseling Programs, Campbell and Dahir explain the national counseling standards and how they fit into the school instructional program. The national standards for counseling are designed to accomplish the following:
- Create a framework for a national model for school counseling programs.
- Identify the key components of a school-counseling model program.
- Identify the knowledge and skills that all students should acquire as a result of the K-12 school counseling program.
- ensure that school counseling programs are comprehensive in design and delivered in a systematic fashion to all students.
- establish school counseling as an integral component of the academic mission of the educational system.
- encourage equitable access to school counseling services for all students, provided by a credentialed school counselor. (p. 5).
Campbell and Dahir quote the American School Counselor Association on what a school counseling program should entail:
A comprehensive school counseling program is developmental and systematic in nature, sequential, clearly defined, and accountable.
It is jointly founded upon developmental psychology, educational philosophy, and counseling methodology (ASCA, 1994). The school counseling program is integral to the educational enterprise. The program is proactive and preventive in its focus -- School counseling programs are developed by design, focusing on needs, interests, and issues related to the various stages of student growth. There are objectives, activities, special services, and expected outcomes, with an emphasis on helping students to learn more effectively and efficiently. (p. 9).
The national standards include information pertinent to all areas in the development and implementation of school counseling programs, including the vision, the mission, the rationale, and the goals and objectives.
The Vision of the School Counseling Program
The vision of the school counseling program is the delivery of counseling services to facilitate growth and development of the whole student (social, personal, emotional, physical, academic, cultural, and spiritual). Students will acquire and develop knowledge, attitudes, and skills that enable them to experience lifelong academic, career and personal/social and career success.
The Mission of the School Counseling Program
Counselors are charged with the awesome mission of finding ways to empower students to view themselves as "miracles in progress." Their mission is to help students understand that personal power lies in their uniqueness, and in their educational development.
Students must come to see themselves not only as individuals, but also as members of a group, a class, a school, and a society. It is the counselor’s mission to help students view their place in the world and to impart to them the connected-ness of the human spirit by teaching what it means to accept, to respect, to appreciate, and to share with others. In so doing, counselors help students to under-stand and to respond in ways that promote both individual and communal achievement.