My week in North Carolina with college counselors

I have been privileged to spend several days this week with a group of wonderful college counselors who are all part of the 2013 SACAC Summer Seminar.  Many of these people are new to the field and others of us are “seasoned”.  It has been a great insight into the level of care and compassion that counselors have for the success of the students with whom they work.

To a person, regardless of the socioeconomic status, geographic location, type of school/work environment, etc. these counselors want to help students access the colleges and universities that will help them become wonderful, productive human beings. They also want to keep the focus on the student at all times.

As counselors we sometimes struggle to define our roles, explain our purposes to administrators, justify the importance of using class time for counseling and act simultaneously as resources and buffers between these groups.  Yet, we all continue to do so, year in and year out because at the heart of it all, we are advocates.

We believe in the students’ skills and talents, we want to help them explore their fascinations and develop their passions and we want them to be able to expand their horizons at a pace and location that best suits their needs. We push when we need to; we scaffold when we can and we help students (and parents) understand that there is learning and insight in failure (or rejection from the first choice school).

The compassion and passion of counselors is not something to be taken lightly. Most counselors are humble and do not ask for much recognition or praise.  If you are fortunate enough to have (or have had) a counselor in your life who has helped you grow and become what you were meant to be, please consider letting him or her know that you appreciate the effort.


The importance and purpose of supervision.

The concept of supervision of training is often met with reluctance among educators and administrators. This is often due to a lack of understanding of the goals and importance of this stage of becoming a professional.

As counselors in training, it is important to have someone available to help select and modify treatment plans or ideas for classroom guidance.  As teachers and administrators, it is important to ensure that the work being done is effective and appropriate to truly support student learning.  The incorporation of supervisor oversight may seem to be a cost-prohibitive issue; however, the potential for long term damage to students and clients due to poor professional preparation and treatment choices is much more costly.

Organizations exist for the sole purpose of supporting this work.  The Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) is one group that works to support mental health and school counselors as they journey through the process of becoming competent professionals.  State level groups, such as the Ohio ACES (OACES) also support this important work.  Consider checking out the redesigned website for more information.