What Does a School Counselor Do?

For many young people, school and life in general can lead to an endless list of challenges and demands. Read more to find out what does a school counselor do.

For many young people, school and life in general can lead to an endless list of challenges and demands. From selecting courses and dealing with exams to navigating learning disabilities or dealing with trauma and bullying, school can be difficult for students, and school counselors are there to help. 

The main role of a school counselor is to support students with their academic, social, and psychological development. It is a role with an expansive range of responsibilities including providing social and emotional lessons to classes and working with other members of staff to implement new school systems and policies to support students. If you are interested in a career where you can have a positive impact on the next generation and help young people as they learn to navigate through life at school, working as a school counselor might be an ideal option for you. 

Let’s take a closer look at the role of the school counselor and what it entails. 

What is School Counseling?

School counseling is a process that addresses any issues that may have an impact on the academic performance of students, including behavioral and psychosocial challenges. The main responsibility of the school counselor is to deliver school counseling services. School counselors are responsible for addressing the social, emotional, academic, and mental development of students. They are responsible for resolving conflicts in school, helping students face and deal with personal and academic problems, and coordinating various school activities while consulting with other school staff, parents, and students themselves. If you are interested in working in this role, consider a school counseling degree from St Bonaventure University. 

What are the Main Roles of a School Counselor?

The school counselor role is a very multifunctional position with a lot of different responsibilities. Some of the main roles that a school counselor is tasked with fulfilling include:


Counselors are there to help prevent student dropout and encourage engagement by helping students identify and learn more about their abilities, interests, and capabilities. Counselors may also act as coordinators to advise students when making decisions regarding their education and future career, including helping students prepare for higher education and college admissions. 


Within a school setting, there will often be many tricky situations to deal with. In these instances, the school counselor is often called on to act as an advocate to guide and negotiate diplomatically. For example, students might be having disputes with their peers or feel that they are being unfairly treated by a certain teacher. In some cases, school counselors might act as a mediator between students who have had a physical altercation. For school counselors, preventing such circumstances is the main focus, and the role focuses on teaching social skills and offering counseling and guidance to students. 


In some situations, all a student needs is a friend to be there for them, and the school counselor can offer this in a professional capacity, offering privacy and a confidential space to talk about what is troubling the student. In this capacity, the school counselor may act as a supporter, listener, advisor, believer, or mentor for the student. 

Social Skills Teacher

When teaching social skills to students, the counselor may act as a specialist, leader, researcher, consultant, and expert. In this capacity of their job, the counselor is responsible for seeking a research-based social skills curriculum that is suited for the demographic of their school before delivering the content to students and supporting the general education teachers when it comes to utilizing this curriculum throughout the school. 


In many cases, school counselors are trained in psychology and mental health so that they can also act as a school psychologist while they are delivering counseling sessions to students. In many cases, the school counselor might be the first point of call for students who are struggling with their mental health, going through a traumatic experience, or are dealing with situations such as bullying at school, which is why mental healthcare is often a main focus in this role. 


In some schools, the counselor may be the main person that students will need to speak to when they have misbehaved. Students who are sent out of the classroom by the teacher may be sent to speak to the school counselor to address the issue. The school counselor may then have to consult the administrators or decide on the next action to take. In some cases, school counselors may also be responsible for addressing attendance issues by communicating with the students or their parents. 


School counselors can also be found in the classroom. In many cases, they are responsible for delivering lessons about emotional learning or social skills, or they might assist classroom teachers in various lessons. Just as classroom teachers are required to prepare lessons, school counselors are also required to put together and deliver engaging lessons and are required to have strong classroom management skills. They are responsible for assessing the knowledge of students during and after the lessons to help them adjust their future content or teaching style. 


School counselors will often collaborate with school staff and assist the organization in the process of teaching and learning. School counselors are required to create and provide a robust, research-based school counseling program that is created using data and student needs. 

The Main Goals of a School Counselor

School counselors fulfill a wide range of roles within the school, providing education, support, friendship, discipline, and more for the students under their care. The school counselor has a range of goals to fulfill within their career, including:

Assist Students with Challenges

Being a student at school these days comes with a growing number of challenges. School counselors have the main goal of being there to help students deal with these challenges and issues. This could be anything from issues with peers to a problem with a particular teacher, in which case the school counselor can act as a mediator between the two parties to remedy the issue and resolve the situation. 

Fulfill Student Lives

School counselors are there to help students address any problematic issues, such as learning difficulties, for example, with the main aim of helping the students live more fulfilling lives and achieve their academic goals. School counselors often collaborate together with teachers and other school staff to implement interventions, suggest strategies, or start the referral process for special education for some students in order to help them succeed. 


Students go through a lot of adjustment periods in their lives while they are at school, and the main aim of a school counselor is to help students adjust emotionally, psychologically, and socially while attaining self-awareness. There are many ways that a school counselor might do this, such as preparing students for working, going to college, or technical school after high school, or putting a ‘buddy’ system in place to make sure that new students are paired with returning students to ensure that they feel welcome while adjusting to a new school. 

Promote Positive School Life

Studies have found that almost 90% of students who participate in school counseling sessions feel more positive about their life at school. This is one of the main aims of the school counselor role. The school counselor is there to promote a more positive school life by providing support for students in difficult situations both inside and outside of the school setting. 

Social Emotional Learning

School counseling programs address social emotional learning and mental health in a variety of ways including school-wide lessons and individual student counseling sessions. Counselors are tasked with addressing these needs with the main aim of improving the social skills and academic performance of the students as a result. 

Supporting School-Wide Interventions

In many schools, school counselors are responsible for supporting or even creating school-wide intervention programs when needed. They are also responsible for constantly evaluating the effectiveness of the programs to make sure that the systemic changes are not only being implemented but also if they are working as expected. 

School Counseling Ethics

School counseling is a delicate and complex service within the school environment. School counselors need to be aware of any ethical or legal ramifications of their actions and have strict guidelines to follow, including when it is important to break confidentiality, such as in the case of a student confiding in the counselor that they are having thoughts of hurting themselves or others. It is important that school counselors are able to create and build strong relationships with students and earn their trust by providing a safe space to confide in them with sensitive information. However, counselors are also required to follow local laws, school policies, and avoid harm at all costs. They should be aware of any cultural differences that might impact the counseling relationship and take the duty of care into consideration. 

School counselors play an important role in educating, supporting, and being there for students in schools all around the world. They are responsible for making sure that students are supported as they face the challenges of school and life as a young person.

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