Counselors Are Here to Help

By Ashley Rodriguez Pena, Culture Editor

“Your counselor wants to see you,” says the teacher. Every day, countless students make their way down to the Student Services’ office and sign in on the iPad. As they sit and wait for their names to be called, they anticipate talks of schedule changes, their lives at home, or any fears of the future.

But what doesn’t run through their mind is who they’re going to see. Which counselor, that is. Is it a School Counselor or a Guidance Counselor? Amy Huynh (10) believes “a school counselor is primarily for your academic-based needs while a guidance counselor is primarily for mental and emotional-based needs.”

At first glance they may sound like two different roles, but both make up the new job description. In recent years, the term “Guidance Counselor” has been replaced by “School Counselor”. Many schools have attributed the new title, “School Counselor” to correspond with the evolution of the job itself.

“I think we’ve evolved, and so our field needs to evolve too,” says Ms. Ana Gaitan. It’s important for parents, teachers, and students alike to know that the position has evolved so much.

Traditionally, counselors were trained to merely guide students in furthering their high school education, whether that involved college-planning or schedule changes. Nowadays, the role has become inclusive to three domains: academic, career, and social/emotional. Ms. Jenna Mollura notes that “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Oh what do counselors do? They just sit in their office all day’”. Counselors do anything from having 9-12th grade seminars to raising awareness for social issues, like suicide.

The evolution from the terms “Guidance Counselor” to “School Counselor” dates back all the way to the middle of the Cold War. Mr. Colton Walker recalls that in 1957, the USSR launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik and, “a lot of people in education thought that the US education was getting soft. We weren’t focused as much in math and science, so students were falling behind other countries’.”

In order to meet the technological superiority of the USSR in the Space Race, the federal government passed the National Defense Education Act. It urged counselors to push students into careers as scientists and engineers. The act paved the way for groups like the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), which support counselors’ efforts in helping students find their own paths.

The stigma surrounding mental health and getting a pass to go to the Student Service’s Office can be alarming, but our counselors don’t bite. “It's a weird thing because if you think that counselors only do academic things then why would you think that you’re going to get in trouble. We want you to feel comfortable talking to us. We don’t want it to be something scary,” adds Ms. Mollura. In the end, all counselors strive to achieve one shared goal: to make sure that students are aware that counselors are a useful resource.