20 Rookie Mistakes that Freshly Minted Counselors Should Avoid

Here’s the list of the top 20 rookie mistakes that most school counselors make when they first start working in the field. Try to remember and follow the worlds of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” I promise it will get easier.

  1. You take on more than you could ever possibly do.
  2. You assume that you can change the entire school in your first year.
  3. You fail to create a plan/outline for each month.
  4. You actually create a plan for each month and then fail to adapt when the plan no longer serves you.
  5. You stay in your office and assume that if you are needed, they will find you.
  6. You forget that others in the school do not see the world through the same lens as you.
  7. You assume that everyone in the school understands your role and values the contribution you can make if given the opportunity.
  8. You try to document each second of your day…just like you were trained to do.
  9. You think that you should already know everything and feel like your colleagues will judge you if you ask for help.
  10. You are certain you already know everything and have nothing else to learn.
  11. You think that because you sent one email to parents, they should know and trust you.
  12. You fail to utilize the myriad of online resources for lesson plans, advice, and support.
  13. You fail to engage in self-care practices out of hubris, time-constraints, or sheer exhaustion.
  14. You don’t realize that you should have behavioral management strategies under your belt as well as counseling theories.
  15. You forget to look for other sources of data beyond the student, such as their chart, grades, parents, teachers, or other providers.
  16. You forget to go back to your theories of practice and help move the student forward in their path toward healing.
  17. You fail to consult the administration team when you see a systemic barrier that could easily be eliminated because you assume that they see it too and would change it if they wanted to.
  18. You remember to ask the student for permission to share something with another adult in their life, but then you forget to follow up with their adult.
  19. You assume that everyone knows more than you because you are brand new.
  20. You feel certain that it will always be this difficult.

It isn’t always easy work, but for me, it has always felt valuable. I hope it will for you as well.

Good luck on your journey.