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Career Story: Adjustment Counselor At A Suburban High School

Adjustment Counselor At A Suburban High School

Job Title: School Adjustment Counselor

Type of Company: I work for a school district outside of Boston.

Education: BS, Economics, Boston College •• MA, Counseling Psychology, Assumption College (Worcester, MA)

Previous Experience: I started as a high school teaching assistant while obtaining my master's degree. I also completed a year long internship in counseling within a school setting.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to support and advocate for students who may be struggling socially, emotionally, and/or academically. The students I support may have a mental health diagnosis such as Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-polar Disorder, or they may require general support for experiences such as the divorce of their parents, the death of a friend or family member, or simply problems interacting with their peers. Additionally, I provide crisis management assistance during school crises. I am also responsible for threat assessments involving any threats made towards or by students or staff.

A typical day involves approximately 5-6 individual counseling sessions with students (approximately 20-30 minutes in length). I also attend 1-2 meetings with teachers each day to keep lines of communication open to support students. I typically hold 3-4 group counseling sessions each week (social skills group, grief group, divorce group). Additionally, I provide support to parents and make or receive about 3-5 phone calls with parents each day. If students work with a counselor outside of school, I will also touch base with that counselor to coordinate efforts in working with the student. I also meet with administration 1-2 times per week (approximately 60 minutes each meeting) to discuss any school-wide issues.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I really enjoy most aspects of my job. I enjoy getting to know students and helping them grow and learn about themselves. The hardest part of the job is dealing with situations that involve potential abuse or neglect of students. In those situations, I am required to file a report with the Department of Child and Family Services. It is hard to watch a child grapple with such problems.

Job Tips: You are much more marketable as a school counselor when you get certified by the Department of Education in both School Guidance Counseling and School Adjustment Counseling. For the most part, this requires doing one or two additional courses as well as two internships (one in guidance and one in adjustment counseling). Also, it is helpful to pursue a state license as either an LICSW (licensed independent clinical social worker) or an LMHC (licensed mental health counselor).

Additional Thoughts: You must be a good listener and work hard to build rapport with each individual you work with. A student is not going to take your advice if they don't trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart.

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