Key Roles of School Counselors

University students in class

School counselors have several important responsibilities associated with their efforts to create supportive learning environments that position students for future success.

Human Growth and Development

Students are in a constant state of physical, mental and emotional growth. School counselors help them navigate through these confusing times. Leveraging their understanding of human development stages, counselors may help design academic programs and projects that complement a student’s individual behavior patterns and interests.

Social and Cultural Foundations

School counselors must have a firm grasp of the social and cultural metrics that shape behaviors and relationships within the school environment. Counselors are trained to recognize issues that may hinder a student’s ability to thrive, such as bullying, academic struggles, and conflicts with friends. They help students overcome these challenges by implementing support programs designed to build confidence, positivity, and self-worth.

Career and Lifestyle Development

School counselors, particularly high school counselors, are typically charged with helping students prepare for life beyond school walls. They can help students identify and nurture specific strengths and interests. They can also help correct weaknesses that can persist later in life, such as poor time management or a lack of organization. Counselors often collaborate with students to develop plans for achieving specific academic and career goals. These plans can also help establish responsible lifestyle habits that benefit students as they venture into the real world.

Research and Program Evaluation

School counselors routinely assess school programs to ensure that they are meeting students’ needs. These evaluations typically involve collaboration with students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and their goal is to identify potential stumbling blocks within a curriculum that could impede a student’s progress toward graduation and a career. Counselors then work with other school stakeholders to develop strategies for closing these gaps and preparing students for the challenges ahead.

Helping Relationships

At its core, the role of a school counselor is to cultivate trusting relationships. These connections define the dynamics among counselors, students and parents. Counselors sometimes participate in developing parenting and bonding strategies to form stronger connections within a student’s family. This element can be particularly helpful for teenagers as they go through dramatic developmental changes.


If you want to find a therapist who is affordable, one of your many therapy options is speaking to a counselor (many of which are licensed clinical professional therapists by trade) who works at a university or a college. Alternatively, you can speak to a student who is in training as a counselor or therapist, and you may be able to get low cost or free mental health care.

If you're a student, you have trained counselors at your school for completely free. It's great to speak to therapy or counseling professional about any concerns you may have at your school.
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