A school counselor is one of the essential assets a school has. Your role is to help the students tackle stressful situations and make clear and conscious decisions that contribute to their academic performance. Sometimes the work extends beyond the school environs since you have to deal with complex issues such as those arising from families.
As a counselor, you must be aware of your roles and be willing to help the students in case of any issues. However, helping the students will not be an easy task unless you have the experience and specific tips to excel at the jobs. Consider these tips helpful to your career and service delivery.
1. Have the desire to learn more
Being a good school counselor entails knowing more details about the students. On your first day, you should be open to learning about the environment and understanding the current issues and situations within the school. To learn about the students, you should be ready to interact with them, be open-minded and create an environment where students come to you rather than summoning them or forcing them to talk.
The best way to learn about the students is by using school counseling interview questions. You can also create regular questionnaires and disseminate them through the school website, student portals, and social media groups to ensure every student fills in their details.
The study will help you understand the common issues affecting them, such as domestic violence, bullying, sexual harassment, etc. You can organize class and group advisory meetings from the available information to inform students how they can deal with certain situations they may face in the future.
2. The soft skills to become a good counselor
Becoming a good counselor requires that you have various soft skills to handle the students effectively. These skills are ideal for listening to the students keenly, understanding their needs, and enabling them to establish a good relationship with you. The skills are also necessary for the trust relationship, allowing the students to open up and speak about their challenges.
Some of the soft skills you need include analysis, which involves interpreting and analyzing the outcomes of the interview questions. You should also be compassionate since you must deal with traumatic and stressful situations. In addition, have good communication skills, i.e., listening, speaking, empathy and confidence when communicating with students. Finally, be in control of your emotions, and understand the students’ emotions as they talk about their issues.3.
3. Stay updated
You need to be aware of key issues such as the impacts of social media, body shaming, rising racism, bullying, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.
Besides, you should read more websites and other online content on mental health. Attend seminars, workshops, and events about mental health, psychology, and other student or society issues. Read books discussing recent issues such as gender, teenagers, and current societal challenges. You can also listen to discussions, confessions, and testimonies about students in society. For this, you can subscribe to different podcasts discussing emotional health and other psychology-related issues.
Understanding these critical issues will be significant for advising the students appropriately about the problems they may be dealing with. The knowledge and information will help you quickly understand the students’ situations and handle them with tender care. With this knowledge, you can also create notes and content to advise parents on how to ensure the students are safe from violence.
4. Be open-minded and flexible
A student counselor should be open-minded and ready to deal with different situations. Do not have pre-defined expectations about the students and be ready for many surprises, new stories, situations, and events that can sometimes be too complex to solve.
Students, like ordinary citizens, undergo different situations based on families, race, society, and other factors. Therefore, you should be ready to deal with all situations.
Having expectations about the issues to address will affect your ability to handle situations effectively, especially when you come across new and weird situations. In such circumstances, be ready to listen, create a good relationship with the students and be a supporting partner as they go through different issues in life.
5. Have a good referral and support network
As a counselor, you should be ready to deal with different and complex issues, some of them beyond your control and management. In such situations, ensure you partner with the relevant authorities to help appropriately. Have contacts and good relations with the justice departments to provide policing support in domestic violence, legal support in case of abuse and harassment, etc.
Moreover, you should also have contacts at the emergency health services to ensure the students with injuries get the necessary care and help. A good working relationship with other professional, public, and private-practice counselors and psychologists can also help when dealing with complex matters you may not have experience handling.
Being a good student counselor requires staying updated about current issues affecting the students. You can get such information by understanding your students through interviews and questionnaires. Understanding the students will require various soft skills, such as excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Above all, be open-minded and partner with relevant authorities to help in complex situations.