Collaborations in School Counseling
Coordinating with other educational stakeholders in the interest of students is a competency set forth by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to create learning environments that promote the educational equity for every student. Involving parents/guardians in their child’s development can help to promote and support student success. These collaborations between school counselor and parents/guardians, teachers, student support staff, administrators, and community leaders guide a comprehensive school counseling program to further advocate for all students academic, career, and personal and social needs.
Relationships that are developed between professional school counselors and others in the interest of students creates a school culture that promotes student success, systemic change, advocacy, and reinforces the mission of the school counseling program.
Throughout much of the professional school counseling literature are statements on the value of collaborations between school counselors and other school personnel to ensure the success of every student academically, in career development, and personally/social.
- Increase in skills when working with students with disabilities
- Strengthening relationships with stakeholders
- Collaborative schools promote school improvement efforts
- Relationship team building within schools
- Supporting family involvement
- Support education level transition
- Maximize use of limited school resources
[Adapted from Strengthening Links Between the Levels: School Counselor Collaboration for Successful Student Transitions, a study on inter-collaboration activities]
Featured Resource on School Counseling Collaborations
The Professional School Counselor Consultation Guide developed by Missouri Professional School Counselors and Counselor Educators outlines collaboration within the responsive services domain of school counseling programs, highlighting the school counselor role in consultation to meet the personal/social, academic, and career developmental needs of students.
When parents believe that the school values their involvement, barriers to parental involvement could begin to be eliminated.
Ways to Collaborate with Parents/Guardians
- Parent Resource Center
- Solicit ideas, suggestions, and questions
- Directory of Community Resources
- Strategies to Help Students Learn at Home
- Parent Education Workshops
In best practices to promote the success of every student, collaborations between teachers and school counselors is imperative. There are often behaviors that are exhibited within the classroom that the school counselor may not be aware of. Referrals from teachers are just the beginning of consulting efforts to ensure student safety and development.
Ways to Collaborate with School Teachers and Educators
- The U.S. Department of Education lists The Top 10 Ways School Counselors Can Support Teachers for the success of every student.
- Help Address Behavior Concerns within the Classroom
- Classroom Management Techniques
- Provide Academic Resources
- Consultation on Accommodations
The roles of each student support personnel vary according to their employment within schools, their educational background, and competencies.
Several school support organizations have developed a Framework for Safe and Successful Schools which highlights the collaboration of school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses in creating a safe and positive school climate through integrative services, multi-tiered systems of support, improvement to school-based mental health care, balancing of physical and psychological safety, employment of positive school discipline, consideration of context, and acknowledge of patience and commitment in improvements.
The Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Programs: Linking School Success with Life Success has developed a resource for school counselors, social workers, and psychologists on Improving Conditions for Learning which shares roles and joint responsibilities of the three student support careers.
- School Social Worker: Trained mental health professionals, social workers in schools provide services to students addressing their social, emotional, and life adjustment to school and/or society. Learn more from the School Social Work Association of America.
- School Psychologist: Providing direct support and intervention to students and consulting with school personnel to improve school-wide practices and policies, school psychologists help schools improve academic achievement, promote positive behavior and mental health, support diverse learners, create safe, positive school climates, and strengthen family-school partnerships. Find out more from the National Association of School Psychologists.
Ways to Collaborate with School Psychologists
- Multidisciplinary assessments for development and career/vocational
- Behavior management and educational psychology
- Family Counseling, Parent Training, Behavior Management in the Home
- Support Groups
- Aggression/Violence Prevention Programs
The Missouri Association of School Psychologists has published a resource on Collaborative School Mental Health which highlight the integrative services of school counselors and school psychologists.
- Occupational Therapist: Through supporting academic achievement and positive behaviors for learning, occupational therapists in school settings provide learning through social skills, math, reading and writing, behavior management, self-help skills, vocational participation skills, and transportation. To learn more, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association's Fact Sheet on Occupational Therapy in School Settings.
- Speech-Language Pathologist: Supporting students in linguistic and metalinguistic foundations for those with disabilities and others who are at risk for school failure or are struggling in school settings, speech-language pathologists ensure that students receive services for language disorders, prevention of academic failure, and employ school-wide speech-language services. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association highlights the roles and responsibilities of this student support occupation.
- School-Based Mental Health Counselor: Licensed as professional mental health counselors, those who work in schools provide clinical services to students addressing their mental, behavioral, and emotional health. While school counselors do not provide long-term therapy, school-based mental health counselors can meet this need.
- School Nurse: As medical professionals, school nurses take strides to ensure that all students are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. As most of the other student support personnel addresses the student’s mental, behavioral, and emotional health - it takes a school nurse to understand and promote physical health. Learn more on the history and role of school nurses from the National Association of School Nurses.
Resource for Collaborative Efforts Between Principals/Administration and School Counselors
In association with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the College Board’s National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) reviews the values of a principal-counselor relationship through their examples of relationships, surveys, and a published toolkit.
- Finding a Way: Practical Examples of How an Effective Principal-Counselor Relationship Can Lead to Success for All Students
- A Closer Look at the Principal-Counselor Relationship: A Survey of Principals and Counselors
- Enhancing the Principal-School Counselor Relationship: Toolkit
Schools with larger student populations and Board of Education buildings house school counseling offices or departments. Within these walls, school personnel important to the day-to-day responsibilities of school counselors work to support their staff and students.
Some school counseling personnel includes:
- Director or Program Coordinator of School Counseling Services
- School Counselors
- School Counseling Assistants
- Student Workers
- School Counselor Interns
Without the collaboration inside of the school counseling department, the tasks of each school counselor outside of the office may become unorganized. Consultations with school counseling supervisors and other counselors is imperative to the success of the Comprehensive School Counseling Program. If you’re faced with an ethical dilemma, your fellow school counselors can help to provide a different perspective. For administrative tasks, the assistants and secretaries can provide support. The ASCA distinguishes between appropriate and inappropriate activities for school counselors - some of which require collaboration within the school counseling office.