How can school counselors keep up with all of their responsibilities and also remain current?
Page 8: Professional Development
Continuing education and membership in professional organizations are extremely beneficial for school counselors. Both provide opportunities for additional training and networking with peers through conferences and workshops.
Most states issue certification to school counselors for a defined period of time, usually five years. School counselors who wish to renew their certification must fulfill one or more requirements, which vary widely by state. These might include:
- A number of years of practice in the field
- Approved professional-development courses
- Graduate coursework at an approved college or university
Such formal requirements are in place to ensure that school counselors continue to learn about new practices and to expand their knowledge of their profession. To view requirements for continuing education by state, visit the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Website.
In addition to these formal requirements, it is extremely important that school counselors continually learn about the latest research and counseling techniques in their profession, especially regarding information about students with disabilities. This continuing education can be achieved through the following resources:
- Research journals
- Internet sites
- Community agencies and resources
- Professional publications
- Professional organization activities (e.g., conferences, workshops)
Keep in Mind
An important aspect of continuing education is staying current on ethical standards. Professional counselors, just like medical physicians, have an obligation to adhere to high ethical standards as part of their certification. ASCA lists 18 specific standards in Ethical Standards for School Counselors. These topics fall under broad categories such as:
- Responsibilities to students
- Responsibilities to parents and guardians
- Responsibilities to school and community
- Responsibilities to the profession and diversity
To view the specifics of these responsibilities, visit the ASCA Website. Professional counselors’ continuing education should include most, if not all, of these topics. For more information and links to some of these resources, see the Additional Resources and Information page in this module.
Professional Counseling Organizations
Professional organizations provide opportunities for interacting with colleagues about issues related to the practice of school counseling. These organizations exist at the local, state, and national levels, and they focus on providing professional development to school counselors, enhancing school counseling programs, and researching effective school counseling practices. The Internet, local phone book, or agency resource book are good tools for learning about local and state organizations and opportunities.