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A School Counsellor works within a school community to provide support to students for their physical, social, emotional and academic well-being. As stress levels rise and mental health issues become more widespread through all aspects of our society, the pressures on school-aged children continue to grow, and support from counselling services is becoming more and more valuable to maintain the physical and mental health of the students.
School counsellors assist students who are facing familial, social, and academic challenges and encourage dialogue between the student and teachers and parents as appropriate. A school counsellor can work with students of all ages and their families, from pre-Kindergarten to Year 12.
School counsellors create confidential relationships with students to facilitate them in achieving their goals and improving their learning experiences. In some environments, they may be involved in running school programs aimed at nurturing mental well-being and drug and alcohol education and prevention.
Counsellors often work with students who need assistance in managing their behaviour, maintaining academic results or planning for the future. Counsellors may also be involved in promoting a safe and healthy school environment by providing interventions against bullying and illegal activities.
Recent years have seen the rise of new forms of bullying, particularly cyberbullying. As younger and younger students are using technology daily for communication and social interaction, they are becoming more susceptible to potent types of bullying that often have deadly consequences. School counsellors are well placed to assist in the provision of education and intervention as required to prevent such dangerous trends from spiralling out of control.
The tasks and responsibilities a school counsellor assume vary according to the environment they are employed in. The primary may duties include:
- Assisting students in developing academic plans that suit their needs
- Collaborating with staff to provide a safe learning environment
- Providing crisis intervention as required, facilitating communication between students, parents and teachers
- Building and nurturing safe, non-judgemental relationships
- Helping students express their feelings in a healthy manner
The primary attributes of a School Counsellor are trustworthiness and reliability. While a school counsellor might have a variety of prerequisite qualifications, such as the IT skills required to maintain student records, other important skills include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Being an empathetic listener
- Being able to build open and trusting relationships
- Being able to collaborate with other staff
- Understand the school system
- The ability to stay calm under stressful situations
- Knowledge of and the ability to apply various counselling models, methods and techniques
- Some kind of Counselling qualification
These days, most schools, regardless of size and denomination, have access to counselling services, even if they don’t have their own dedicated School Counsellor. Most middle-sized and larger organisations in metropolitan locations have a dedicated School Counsellor who is available at least on a part-time basis.
Rural schools have an equally high demand for counselling services; however, due to the challenges of filling many rural counselling positions, often these services are provided virtually and only when available.
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If you are not quite ready for the 3-year time commitment of an Undergraduate degree at university, it is also possible to enter the counselling industry with Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. For example, a CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling can provide a solid basis to enter the workforce in a shorter time (around a year).
This level of qualification would generally require the role to be under supervision at first, but it does open the pathway to progress to higher-level qualifications through further study at a later date.
Some educational institutions may require you to register with your state teaching board before practising as a school counsellor, and those qualifications for registry may vary depending on the state or territory.
Before working in any school, you need to undergo a Working With Children’s Check. In most cases, this is a quick and easy process and is carried out entirely online.
What our trainer has to say
If you want to do meaningful work, make a difference in students’ lives, work in a socially interactive environment and have school holidays off, then working as a school counsellor may be a perfect career move for you!