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Your Child's Guidance Counselor Can Help Them Thrive

How School Guidance Counselors Support Students

Many schools have full-time counselors on staff who support students throughout their personal and academic journeys. Here are five of the ways your student's school counselor can help them navigate academic challenges, plan for future success, cope with mental health issues, and so much more.

1. Guidance counselors increase mental health awareness

One of the most important jobs a school counselor has is caring for the mental health and wellbeing of the students who attend their school. Stigma still exists around the topic of mental health, and counselors work hard to increase awareness and make sure kids don't feel ashamed when they need help.

2. School counselors can provide mental health referrals

Think of counselors as the first-line of defense when your child is dealing with personal struggles. They aren't equipped to provide in-depth therapy to every child in the school, but they can provide a limited amount of individual counseling.

When a student needs consistent therapy, it's best for them to commit to regular appointments outside of school with a licensed mental health professional. Your child's school counselor likely has recommendations of professionals they trust, so don't hesitate to ask for referrals if needed.

3. Counselors at school are trained to recognize “warning signs”

Students spend much of their waking weekday hours at school, which means counselors, teachers and other school staff are frequently the first to notice changes in behavior that could indicate an underlying issue. In that sense, think of school counselors as a front-line defense for when your child is struggling.

When a counselor notices abrupt changes in a student's grades, attendance levels, disciplinary issues or social life, they know the student might benefit from extra support. Counselors also frequently work with teachers and other school staff to make sure students can thrive.

4. Guidance counselors also support parents

Guidance counselors are for parents, too. They can share parenting strategies and tips, including advice on how to connect with and support their children. Many schools also provide assistance with things like filling out financial aid paperwork for college.

5. School counselors help students plan for college

Should your student take Advanced Placement classes? What courses should they take in general? Are there any college-level opportunities that would challenge your young academic? Is it better for them to take the ACT or SAT? Which colleges should they apply to? Is college even the best choice for what my child wants to do with their life?

Once your child enters high school, questions and concerns about their future can become overwhelming. Counselors can help you make sense of the process and possibilities. They can also write letters of recommendation, so encourage your child to develop a relationship with their school counselor if they plan to attend college.