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Quinn: Model for counseling

Does your child’s school have a comprehensive counseling program in place? Is the answer to that question important? And if they do have a comprehensive counseling program in place at your child’s school, how would you know? How is your child different because of their school’s counseling program?

The American School Counselor Association collaborated to create a national model for school counseling programs to connect school counseling with the current educational reform movements that emphasize student achievement and success.

By aligning a school counseling program with the school/district mission and school improvement plan, school counselors partner as leaders in systemic change, ensure equality and access and promote academic, personal/social and career development for every student.



People often wonder, “What do school counselors actually do?” and until 1993, when ASCA published “The ASCA National Model: A Foundation for School Counseling Programs,” the role of the school counselor was ambiguous, and how they functioned from school to school relatively inconsistent. The publication of the ASCA National Model professionalized school counseling and ensured greater consistency in services across the United States.

The role of the school counselor is, in part, to promote the development of the school counseling program based on the following areas of the ASCA National Model: foundation, delivery, management and accountability.



As part of the foundation, school counselors create comprehensive school counseling programs that focus on student outcomes and teach student competencies. This includes program focus, which is partly comprised of creating a vision statement and mission statement that align with their school’s mission and then developing program goals that define how the vision and mission will be measured.

Program management consists of school counselors incorporating organizational assessments and tools that are concrete, clearly delineated, and reflective of the school’s needs. Delivery requires that school counselors provide services to students, parents/guardians, school staff and the community in the following areas: direct services with students and indirect services for students.

Direct services with students consists of the school counseling core curriculum, which are structured lessons for the classroom, individual student planning and responsive services.

Indirect services for students are provided on behalf of students and include referrals, consultation and collaboration with parents/guardians, teachers and other educators or community organizations.

Comprehensive counseling programs are about counseling, assessment, technology, data-driven decisions, teaming, collaboration and advocacy. It is about results. The old question was “what do counselors do?” The new question is “how are students different as a result of the school counseling program?”

In the past, it was enough for school counselors to focus on good intentions. Nowadays there is a shift to a focus on accomplishments and effectiveness. We have gone from programs that generally focused on the number of activities and measured the amount of effort, to programs that focus on outcomes and improved results and attend to goals, objectives and outcomes.

Schools that do not have a comprehensive counseling program in place are primarily reactive. Schools that do have a comprehensive counseling program in place are proactive in their plan to help students achieve and succeed. A comprehensive counseling program includes program planning, individual and group counseling, student appraisal, consulting, coordinating services and professional development.

If we do not challenge ourselves to change, to keep up with new means of educating our youth, we are fated to repeat prior mistakes. The ASCA national model is a way to hold counselors accountable, to ensure consistency across districts and to ensure each and every student is affected positively by the counseling program.

So become involved with your child’s school counselor, as the school counselor is there for everybody.

Colleen Quinn

Licensed school counselor, Hayden Valley Elementary School and Hayden Middle School


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