What should teachers expect for their students to have learned or been taught throughout their guidance and counseling course, regarding self, counseling as a profession, and the integration of a...

What should teachers expect for their students to have learned or been taught throughout their guidance and counseling course, regarding self, counseling as a profession, and the integration of a spiritual/religious approach (with an emphasis on Christianity) in relation to other therapies?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Students undertaking coursework in guidance counseling should be expected to have inculcated an appreciation for the myriad perspectives and backgrounds with which they will come into contact in the years ahead.  They should graduate with a deep understanding of the psychological profiles of categories of students and be well-versed in the individual academic records and professional ambitions of each of the students in their charge, and they should possess the unique combination of pathos and pragmatism necessary to counsel a wide array of students ranging from valedictorian to marginal- or underachiever.  The Princeton Review notes that “A guidance counselor helps students determine courses of study and possible vocations. Counselors try to understand what motivates each student as well as his or her skills and desires.”  [https://www.princetonreview.com/Careers.aspx?cid=75]

The importance of these responsibilities cannot be overstated, as guidance counselors represent figures of authority to young, impressionable children who are nevertheless on the cusp of adulthood.  Most importantly, guidance counselors are responsible for advising students undergoing the most stressful period of childhood.  As the American School Counsel Association describes the responsibilities of guidance counselors with respect to secondary school counselors:

“They are searching for a place to belong and rely on peer acceptance and feedback. They face increased pressures regarding risk behaviors involving sex, alcohol and drugs while exploring the boundaries of more acceptable behavior and mature, meaningful relationships. They need guidance in making concrete and compounded decisions. They must deal with academic pressures as they face high-stakes testing, the challenges of college admissions, the scholarship and financial aid application process and entrance into a competitive job market.”

Individuals studying to become guidance counselors are expected to develop the level and breadth of knowledge necessary to be effective when working among a vast and diverse population of students.  To be effective, especially given the role of psychology in approaching some students, aspiring counselors need to know themselves; they need to be confident in who they are and in their ability to conduct themselves professionally and empathetically, and they need to be committed to a profession for which the outcome of cases will, in most instances, never be known. 

The issue of spiritual or religious counseling is anathema to public school districts today.  The separation of church and state is held sacred to many Americans and spiritual counseling, especially specific to any one religious denomination, is generally prohibited in public schools.  In private, parochial schools, however, the spiritual dimension is an integral part of the process, and guidance counselors at religious-based schools, such as Catholic school systems, are expected to include the spiritual dimension in the broader performance of their responsibilities.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer given to you by kipling 2448 Is accurate with the most important paragraph being the last one about spiritual or religious counseling.  If you intend to pursue counseling in the public sector, you MUST give up the idea of religious counseling.  How would you handle counseling a gay student if that was against your religious training?  Spirituality is a bit different in how you handle it but no more welcome in a public school.  If you want to pursue the idea of a Christian base to your counseling, you MUST be in a private school which welcomes the religious ideas.  As a teacher and as an on call crisis counselor for the county jail where I live, religion in any form is not really welcome as their purpose is not religious.  For example, when I have a gay student or a pregnant student, my concern needs to be for them as a person who needs a non-judgmental advocate.  In the jail, I listen while the inmate talks and I might comment here or there.  ONLY AFTER I have gained their trust, is the idea of a spiritual component ever discussed.  It needs to be in a jail if the inmate is receptive, but the inmate controls that, not me.  In a high school, you are the person in authority for the student, and your religious beliefs may NOT be part of the discussion because of your position of authority.  Vulnerable students who truly need individual counseling should be referred outside the school especially if they need a religious base as your job as a school counselor is not really to do individual counseling.  Good luck as you consider what you want to do with your life and a career because careful consideration is needed here.