Professional Development for School Counselors

One requirement of the professional school counselor is to maintain their certification through professional development and continuing education credits. While this may vary from state to state, the importance of professional development in both counseling and education is imperative to keep with current trends, new research for effective practice, and learning about new and successful techniques. Continuing education credits are offered by several professional counseling organizations.

Ultimately, it is the role of the school counselor to develop and implement a school counseling program that best fits the needs of their students and aligns with the mission of their school. Similar to other counseling careers, professional school counselors must also adhere to a set of standards, competencies, and ethics. Encompassing all of these responsibilities and reaching competency, professional school counselors can further expand their knowledge and experience through additional certifications or specialty trainings.

What Do School Counselors Do?

A Look Into the Professional School Counselor’s Role

Even though school counselors do not hold the exact title, they are educators for their students. Professional school counselors may teach their students academic, social, personal development, or career skills to help them achieve their potential. To become a school counselor, one must complete a master’s degree program in school counseling which makes them qualified to address these concerns and presenting matters from their students. Through the implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program, collaborations with other student support personnel, and working with outside agencies, a school counselor’s role encompasses guiding their students and school to success. School counselors are leaders, advocates, collaborators, and educators – roles that often intertwine and occur simultaneously.

All professional school counselors support students by providing:
  • Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
  • Advocacy for All Students’ Developmental and Learning Needs
  • Collaboration with Parents/Guardians, Teachers, Principals, Student Support Staff, Other School Personnel
  • Leadership for the School Counseling Program
  • Support to a Positive School Culture


  • Organizational, Study, and Test-Taking Skills
  • Organizing Study Groups
  • Addressing Barriers to a Fair Education
  • Support Innovation and Creativity
  • Help Develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills


  • Developing Positive Interpersonal Relationships
  • Social, Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution Skills
  • Ways to Effectively Communicate
  • Understanding of Self and Others
  • Substance Abuse Education


  • Awareness and Exploration Lessons
  • Effectively Working with Others

Professional School Counseling Organizations

Begin Your Student/Professional Membership

  1. American School Counselor Association
    • “…to represent school counselors and to promote professionalism and ethical practice.”
    • Publications Offered: Professional School Counseling Journal, and ASCA Aspects
    • Benefits: Exposure to innovative theories integrating education, mental health, and counseling, liability insurance for internships and professional positions, and online access to a networking community.
  2. American Counseling Association
    • “…to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity”
    • Publications Offered: Journal of Counseling & DevelopmentCounseling Today, and ACAeNews
    • Benefits: Development and growth of counseling skills, professional networking opportunities on and offline, and liability insurance
  3. State School Counselor Association – Each state and the District of Columbia has their own school counseling organization that handles the in state support, professional development, and advocacy for school counselors and their students.
  4. International School Counselor Organization – The ISCA provides advocacy and leadership for school counselors in international schools. Through their international model for school counseling, the ISCA promotes “Unity from Diversity” considering the cultural aspects and values of foreign countries. Through a collaborative network, the ISCA brings international school counselors together to exchange ideas, attend workshops, webinars, and conferences, and to develop their professional identity to best serve their diverse students.

Continuing Education for School Counselors

State By State Requirements: With the exception of a few, all states offer a five-year renewal certificate for counselors. Continuing education requirements for these certificates varies state to state.

ASCA U Specialist Trainings

Through self-paced online professional development, the ASCA offers five continuing education credits or 50 contact hours through specialist trainings. These trainings and ASCA is approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as an approved continuing education provider.

School counselor trainings include:

  • Anxiety and Stress Management
  • Bullying Prevention
  • Closing the Achievement Gap
  • College Admissions
  • Cultural Competency
  • Grief and Loss
  • Legal and Ethical
  • Mental Health
  • School Counseling Data
  • School Counseling Leadership
  • Students With Special Needs
  • Trauma and Crisis

American Counseling Association Continuing Education

  • Free CE of the Month with Professional Membership
  • Online Courses
  • Podcast CE Credits
  • On-Demand Webinars
  • Attending Professional Conferences

National Board for Certified Counselors – Approved Continuing Education Provider Search.

Other Certifications for School Counselors

National Certified School Counselor – Professional certification for school counselors who meet the high standards of the practice of school counseling.

National Certified Counselor – After completion of a CACREP accredited program, counselors can apply for NCC certification after the passing of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

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Social Media for School Counselors

When using social media to represent the school or school counseling office, it is imperative to review the ASCA Ethical Standards as well as district, local, and state standards for ethical practice and use of social media.


  • Use as an online bulletin board to share resources
  • Post timelines, deadlines, and upcoming dates
  • Useful for college admission reminders
  • Share resources with parents/guardians for at home use

For more on the use of Facebook in School Counseling, iKeepSafe published a guide on the pros and cons of using Facebook for your office.


  • Helps connect school to outside resources
  • Send reminders to followers for upcoming dates
  • Participate in hashtag chats:


  • Find and save tons of valuable resources
  • Ideas from other school counselors
  • Counseling theories
  • Arts and craft in school counseling
  • Create and follow other boards

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American School Counselor Association (ASCA) School Counselor Competencies: Highlights


School counselors understand the organizational structure of the American educational system and effective school counseling programs in order to best organize and implement their own under the belief that every student can learn and succeed through equitable access to a high quality education.


Through the expression and demonstration of educational systems, theories, standards and state competencies, school counselors utilize these influences to drive the implementation of their school counseling program that impacts every student, is integral to student success, and promotes academic, career, and personal/social development.


By providing direct and indirect services to meet students’ needs, school counselors utilize counseling theories and concepts for education with career planning and college admissions knowledge to promote a multi-tiered approach to their school counseling program with the foundation that school counseling is a part of a continuum of care that should be available to all students.


School counselors possess leadership qualities that lead to the facilitation of advocacy, collaborations, and change through self-evaluation, organization of advisory councils, collection of data, action planning, and program management through the belief of proactive collaboration and the understanding of their critical responsibilities to implement a comprehensive school counseling program.


School counselors understand the basic concepts of results-based and data-driven school counseling programs through sampling, methodology, and analysis to provide reports on school profiles and student outcomes in comparison with the ASCA National Model believing that school counseling programs should achieve demonstrable results.

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Last updated: April 2020