What is the role of the school counselor?

The Code of Maryland Regulations requires a school counseling program in each school. The school counselor is usually the person who provides these services and is primarily responsible for helping students be successful in school by providing services and programs that help students with personal, interpersonal, academic, career and health concerns. These concerns may be addressed through preventive programming such as full-school programs, classroom lessons, and consultation with teachers and parents. They may also be addressed through intervention programs such as individual and small group counseling.

If my child needs ongoing counseling can the school counselor provide this service?

Although each school counselor has a Master's degree and is thoroughly trained in counseling theories, techniques and interventions, school counselors do not provide therapy or long term counseling. They provide short term and/or crisis counseling of not more than 6-8 sessions. Therapists in community and private agencies have case loads of approximately 25-40 clients compared to the case loads of school counselors that range from approximately 350 students to over 800. School counselors may assist students and families in locating a therapist in the community who can more adequately provide services when long term/intensive care is needed.

Is the communication between a school counselor and my child confidential?

School counselors are not given "privileged communication" by law. This means that if information about the counseling session is requested by a school official, a parent, a court of law or other individual who has a need to know, the counselor may share the information. However, the code of ethics of the American School Counselor Association clearly states that information shall remain confidential unless a student intends to harm himself or someone else. Counselors, therefore, endeavor to keep information confidential whenever possible while at the same time providing appropriate information, upon request, to those who have a need to know. There is one exception. When a student comes to a school counselor requesting assistance in overcoming a drug or alcohol problem, that information is confidential and may not be shared with anyone other than the agency to which the student is referred. School counselors do not provide drug and alcohol counseling for students; rather, they refer students to appropriate agencies within the community.

Must my child see the counselor to whom he/she is assigned?

In schools where there is more than one counselor, students are assigned to a counselor by an alphabetical breakdown or by grade. This is done in order to balance the caseloads of counselors and to focus on developmental needs of various grade levels. Although it is preferred that the student work with the assigned counselor, it is recognized that there are times when a different counselor can better meet the specific needs or better match the personality of the student. If this is the case, the student may request a different counselor. This request may be made directly to the counselor the student desires to see or through the principal or assistant principal.

Must my elementary aged child participate in classroom counseling lessons?

Elementary counseling lessons are an important part of the school counseling program and are designed to assist students in developing a variety of skills. The Code of Maryland Regulations provides for school counseling programs in the same way it provides for curriculum areas like math or social studies. Classroom counseling lessons are an integral part of the student's education with no provision in the law for excluding students.

How do I request a transcript for the college application process?

Your child may request this transcript by going to the school counseling office and filling out a transcript request form. If a form requiring information and the signature of the counselor was provided by the college, that form should be submitted at the same time. The transcript will be prepared and given to the counselor who will then complete the form and provide the necessary signatures. The transcript and form will be sent directly to the college. Colleges request that the transcript be "official." This means that the transcript is not given to the student; rather, it is mailed directly to the college. "Official" transcripts may not be given to students or parents. A student or parent may receive an "unofficial" transcript for use in college or job interviews; however, most schools and employers will want an "official" transcript for consideration of admission or employment.