High school guidance counselors have various functions in the American education system. They help students and guardians to excel in their learning endeavors (Sundram, 2007). The contribution of these professionals is crucial given the critical nature of the developmental stage the students are going through. In this paper, the author will take an in-depth look into the role of guidance counselors at the high school level in the state of New Jersey. Different aspects relating to this profession will be analyzed. They include, among others, job specifications and requirements.
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A Practicing High School Guidance Counselor in New Jersey
High school guidance counselors work directly with students and other stakeholders. Their job is to help the learners solve personal, social, and academic problems (Sundram, 2007). They are required to deal with a number of problems affecting the learners. Such problems include substance abuse and social instabilities. To deal with the problems and help the learners, the professionals are required to adopt a number of strategies and approaches.
They also guide students on their future career. It is also the responsibility of guidance counselors to identify individual needs using a variety of techniques, such as guided interviews, psychometric assessments, and other evaluative instruments. The aim of such interventions is to remedy a relevant course of action (West, 2002). By identifying these needs, the counselors can better participate in the review and development of school’s guidance plans. The move enhances their relevance in the ever changing world of students and their needs.
Specific sets of skills are required for one to become an effective guidance counselor in New Jersey. For example, one must have excellent communication skills. The reason is mainly because guidance counselors are expected to identify problems and provide workable solutions to the students. Such tasks require efficient and complex communication skills (West, 2002). Guidance counselors are also required to be able to absorb vast amounts of information. As such, they can quickly internalize other individuals’ problems and come up with solutions within a short duration of time. Guidance and counseling also requires one to be a good observer. It is mainly because a lot of valuable information can be collected from observing the behavior of an individual during counseling sessions (West, 2002).
A Master’s degree in Education Counseling is needed for one to become a school guidance counselor in New Jersey. The degree program runs for three years. It is made up of class work and practical attachment (Sweet, 2001). In New Jersey, one must also go through practical fieldwork through the supervision of an accredited professional. It is also a requirement for one to be licensed before beginning to practice, especially in schools. To be licensed, one must first complete a Master’s program, a practicum, and another exam to obtain the license (Sweet, 2001). In New Jersey, one must have at least two years of teaching experience before licensing.
Because of the high confidentiality levels required in counseling, these professionals are often provided with their own private offices. Guidance counselors operate within the conventional school calendar. They only take a few months off during summer (Sweet, 2001). However, such states as New Jersey have started employing guidance counselors on full year contracts, especially for those working in high schools. In addition, their schedules and duration are similar to those of teachers. However, their work involves a lot of travelling to attend seminars and trainings (Neary, 2013). A significant rise in the number of students in schools has created the need for more guidance counselors in New Jersey and other states. As such, one can conclude that availability of jobs in this field is expanding.
The Position of a High School Guidance Counselor in the American Psychological Association
The American Psychologist Association is a body in the U.S that accredits counseling psychology programs (Ingram, 2012). APA comprises of publishing operations, administrative offices, and five substantive directorates. Guidance and counseling falls under the education directorate docket. The directorate accredits doctoral psychology programs. It also addresses issues related to psychology education in high schools through graduate programs (Ingram, 2012).
Pros and Cons of being a High School Guidance Counselor
It is important to analyze the pros and cons of a high school guidance counselor as a profession before venturing into this field. The advantages include the potential for higher than average salary, which is approximately $56,000. In addition, the practitioners take summer vacations in some schools and private offices (Sundram, 2007). The cons include the many qualifications required to become a practicing professional. They include a Masters Degree and state licensing, which may be costly. The work is also stressful, especially when dealing with troubled students and unhappy parents. The situation leads to disagreements and conflicts when meeting with counselors (Sundram, 2007).
Counseling plays an important role in the development of students within the school setting. It involves helping them solve personal, academic, and educational problems. As such, the importance of a high school guidance counselor cannot be underestimated. Research in this field allows one to appreciate guidance and counseling as a career. It also provides knowledge required to make a career choice in the field.
Ingram, J. (2012). American Psychologist: Earn continuing education credits for reading American Psychologist articles. American Psychologist, 58(4), 312-312.
Neary, S. (2013). Motivational career counseling and coaching: Cognitive and behavioral approaches. Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 42(1), 115-116.
Sundram, G. (2007). Principles and practice of guidance and counseling. Jaipur, India: Aavishkar Publishers.
Sweet, R. (2001). Career information, guidance and counseling services: Policy perspectives. American Journal of Career Development, 10(2), 11-14.
West, W. (2002). Some ethical dilemmas in counseling and counseling research. Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 30(3), 261-268.