School Counselor

School counselors are mental health professionals with master’s degrees or beyond who serve an educational and counseling role in and around schools. Many schools have full-time counselors on staff who provide support to struggling students, help students choose careers and plan for college, and who intervene when students face psychological difficulties.

What Training Is Required for School Counselors?

Each state has individual licensing requirements for school counselors. Counselors may need to take a comprehensive exam, log a certain number of hours in a supervised counseling setting, or take continuing education classes. Numerous schools offer school counseling master’s and doctoral degrees. To provide counseling to students, school counselors must have, at minimum, a master’s degree. The degree may be in school counseling or a related field such as psychology or social work. School counselors cannot prescribe medications, although some schools have school psychiatrists available who can prescribe medication to students with their parents’ permission.

What Do School Counselors Do?

The role of a school counselor varies greatly depending upon the individual school and the state’s requirements for school counselors. A few examples of school counselor duties include:

  • Providing instruction on psychological and social issues – School counselors may, for example, teach sex education classes, provide information to students about bullying, or offer seminars on study skills.
  • Vocational guidance – Many school counselors help students prepare for college or select careers.
  • Counseling – School counselors often help students mediate conflicts with their peers, teachers, and parents. Many school counselors provide therapy and counseling to students in the school.
  • Early intervention – School counselors receive training about learning disabilities and common psychological problems that manifest in school. They may provide referrals, recommendations, and education to parents about mental health conditions.
  • Special needs services – Counselors may help special needs students integrate into classrooms and may oversee special needs and learning disabilities programs in some schools.


  1. Careers/Roles (n.d.). American School Counselor Association. Retrieved from
  2. Colman, A. M. (2006). Oxford dictionary of psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


Last Updated: 08-21-2015

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