ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors enumerates the ethical demands applicable to professional counselors in schools. ASCA standards are outlined in six sections (A-F) (ASCA, 2016). Section A enumerates responsibility to students. First, this section emphasizes the responsibility bestowed on school counselors to support student development. Their primary obligation is to ensure they treat every student with dignity and respect for their unique abilities. They should acknowledge parents and guardians’ fundamental role in the students’ success.
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Second, school counselors should ensure and conform to the standards of confidentiality, including appropriate disclosure of information. Counselors have a legal mandate to keep students’ information confidential and avoid any foreseeable harm from disclosure. Moreover, counselors should ensure students’ records are only transmitted electronically in order not to result in a confidentiality breach. Third, ASCA standards outline the comprehensive data-informed program (ASCA, 2016). Implemented by administrators and staff, the program aims at ensuring children’s access to equitable development opportunities in school. Under the program, counselors must assess students’ needs and propose interventions to help close identified development gaps.
Fourth, school counselors have a mandate to develop career and social plans in collaboration with teachers and school administrators. The plans are essential to ensure students have opportunities to develop the right behaviors and mindsets necessary to acquire work-related skills (ASCA, 2016). The fifth aspect is counselors’ mandate to ensure they do not have relationships that are likely to compromise their objectivity and, therefore, cause harm to a student. They should ensure cordial and professional relationships with the learners. The sixth aspect is the appropriate referrals and advocacy when students demand assistance. Referral and advocacy involve identifying warning of distress. Counselors have a responsibility to identify agencies and requisite resources necessary to assist students.
Seventh, counselors have a role in facilitating a small group to address students’ academic concerns. They use data to ascertain the expectations of the members of the small group and conduct follow-ups. Eighth, the section outlines the student peer-support program aimed at safeguarding their welfare. Counselors supervise students’ engagement in the peer helping to monitor skill development. Ninth, the standards mandate school counselors to identify the situations when students are at risk of foreseeable harm and propose measures to mitigate them after consultation with professionals. They should share the concerns with appropriate authorities whenever a student faces such risks (ASCA, 2016). Additionally, parents and guardians demand a chance to intervene in the situation when a student is at risk of foreseeable harm. Unless after addressing the condition, counselors should not release students who are a danger to self or their peers.
The tenth aspect relates to underserved populations and their at-risk counterparts. Every school should be a safe and non-discriminatory environment in which students experience civility and respect. Counselors, therefore, must ensure students access exceptional standards of care (ASCA, 2016). Students from underserved and at-risk populations should access the necessary resources to optimize learning. Another critical role of counselors is to identify the needs of students with disabilities and ensure the best practices are used to fulfill their academic and emotional demands. ASCA standards require that counselors report any form of bullying, child abuse, or acts of harassment targeting students. Moreover, proper authorities should have information on children’s neglect and emotional or physical harm.
Part A, section 12, outlines that counselors should ensure students’ information and records’ safety and custody. All electronic communications to teachers about individual students should be safe (ASCA, 2016). Concerning evaluation and assessments, section 13 demands that counselors strictly apply reliable tests without bias or cultural insensitivity. Section 14 sets the requirement for appropriate technology use in learning while safeguarding security and confidentiality. Finally, section 15 states that counselors should conform to similar ethical guidelines when conducting virtual or distance counseling sessions.
Part B enumerates counselors’ responsibilities to parents, school, and self. It emphasizes the critical role of collaborating with parents when providing counseling services to the minors. Regarding their responsibility to school, counselors should advocate equity and access to their services among all students in an inclusive environment. Counselors should ensure professional relations and cordial communications with the school administrators and staff (ASCA, 2016). Counselors’ responsibility to self requires that they must have completed their professional training in an accredited institution. Their roles must conform to the ASCA standards, all relevant laws, and the board policies. They must have a membership to their professional organizations.
ASCA standards, Part C, relate to school counselor administrators or supervisors. They should ensure the implementation of school counseling programs by enacting a non-discriminatory and consistent strategy. Part D outlines standards applicable to field or intern site supervisors (ASCA, 2016). They should be licensed and certified to undertake their mandate and embrace cultural competence. Their mastery of technology should support their roles as supervisors. Supervisors should be knowledgeable of the policies and articulate procedures related to their roles.
Part E related to the maintenance of standards through consultations with professionals when resolving any matter. It outlines the measures applicable when in doubt of a colleague’s conduct. Finally, Part F addresses concerns of ethical decision-making by school counselors (ASCA, 2016). It recommends the ethical decision-making model as the most ideal while applying ESCA standards and relevant laws. Counselors should not overlook any ethical principle in their mandate. They should consult before performing any actions.
American School Counselor Association (ASCA). (2016). ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors. Web.