Home Education A guide to graduate programs in counseling
FRANK JANKS, PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL COUNSELOR
I entered my CACREP-accredited counseling program with the hopes of eventually working as a school counselor. Early on in my graduate counseling program, the concept of "counselor identity” was introduced and emphasized in an assigned reading. At first I was concerned that the mental health counseling concepts that filled the readings and my coursework were not specific enough to the daily operations of a school counselor. I was wrong.
After being trained in counseling theory, I was regularly given various scenarios and case studies to work through. I practiced counseling and was given feedback consistently. Through collaboration with fellow counselors- in-training as well as working with a diverse group of professors and internship site supervisors, I honed my decision-making skills and gained confidence in my counseling ability.
The strong foundation and professional identity my program afforded me has been my biggest asset in my career so far. I have learned that "guidance counselors” in the school district where I work were traditionally tasked with administrative work, scheduling students’ courses, assisting students with post-secondary planning, and little else. While these tasks still exist in my role today, a significant portion of my time is spent counseling students dealing with difficulties related to their academic, career, and personal/social development. I handle crises and work with students and colleagues to navigate challenging situations; all the while becoming more seasoned, comfortable, and natural in my role.
As a counselor-in-training I was required to seek learning experiences outside of the classroom and internship sites. My peers and I were informed of professional conferences and organizations and were encouraged to become involved. This is a practice I maintain as I am entering my fifth year as a high school counselor. Attending counselor events such as professional conferences provides me with new information, new ideas, new perspectives, and an opportunity to network with other professionals. I feel a sense of pride and connection when I attend my county school counselor association meetings. I feel refreshed when I leave. The network I have built has provided a valuable source of knowledge and strength. The foundation of this network and the desire to stay connected to other counseling professionals is a direct result of my graduate counselor education experience.