We all make mistakes–it’s part of life, but here are 5 of the biggest mistakes that school counselors make on the regular.
Mistake #1. You assume you know what is best.
You act like every other adult in the child’s life and believe that the young person you are counseling is not capable of figuring the situation out on their own. You assume that you are the expert and know what is best for each child. I believe that each person can be their best selves with the right counselor helping them find their strength within.
Mistake #2. You fail to advocate for your work.
You sit in your office and wait for students and teachers to come to you. School counseling is unlike traditional therapy in a lot of ways, but this is one of the most significant differences.
You can’t just wait for people to come to you. You go to them through classroom lessons, walking the halls, and offering groups. You must be a regular face that they know before they’ll trust you with their secrets. You have to advocate for your profession because people don’t see what you do unless you share your work.
Mistake #3. You lose sight of the long-term program goals.
You say ‘yes,’ to things when you should say ‘no.’ You have to tells other ‘no‘ unless it is helping you get to your overarching goals.
Most of us in the counseling field are the people that everyone comes to in their time of need, but we should not be saying ‘yes‘ to that committee or activity unless we can tie it into our overall objectives for our department. We must have boundaries around our work and know that the effort we are making is toward that long term goal.
Mistake #4. You take on the problems of others.
You mismanage your boundaries and take on the student’s problem as your own. When you are working harder than the client/student, you know that you need to take a step back.
Your goal is to motivate and empower, not to take over and do what needs to be done on the other persons behalf. It is easy to call and advocate because you’re good at it, but you want always be around for that person. Make sure that you are taking the time to teach those advocacy skills.
Mistake #5. You assume everyone else knows best.
You forget that you are an expert in your field. In most schools, you are the only school counselor, and it is hard to remember that teachers and admin did not receive the same training as you. You assume that everyone knows more than you–and they might about math, but not about your work.
Honestly, I thought this was just a “me” issue until I took on interns and realized that they often don’t trust themselves. They assume that everyone around them knows more than they do, but that isn’t the case. Rely on your training, consult your counseling colleagues, and have faith in your skills.
I’m probably missing quite a few, but these are the ones that I struggled with the most.