5 Key Skills of School Counselors

The Best School Counselors Have These Five Skills

  • Strong Speaking and Listening Abilities
  • Excellent Written Communication
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Analytical Talents
  • Compassion and Empathy

School counselors help students achieve personal and academic success, and these five key skills of school counselors ensure that they will be able to their jobs well. These professionals play a critical role in ensuring that students reach their potential and have a clear path forward in their lives. School counselors who have these five skills will find their jobs to be more enjoyable and rewarding.

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Strong Speaking and Listening Abilities

The ability to speak in a way that others will understand is a critical skill that school counselors must have. School counselors may need to use words that young children can understand without being frightened. Those who work with older students may need to understand teen slang in order to communicate with that age group. All counselors should also be good at listening and making others feel like they are being heard.

Excellent Written Communication

Excellent written communication is another key skill that school counselors need to have. They may need to maintain files on each student. Those files might include services they provided, written assessments of a student’s interactions and behavior and other details of a student’s academic and social life at school. Counselors may need to create documentation in order to report problems or satisfy the requirements for being a mandated reporter in the event that they identify abuse or neglect of a child.

Interpersonal Skills

School counselors have to work with people from a spectrum of backgrounds and with a wide variety of personalities. They have to work with teachers, administrators, parents, students and community members. A school counselor may also interact with the school resource officer, social workers or the school nurse. The counselor should be able to relate to and have a professional relationship with all of these individuals.

Analytical Talents

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analytical talents are essential to school counselors. Counselors may proctor or perform personality tests or career pathway tests on students. They will need to be able to analyze these results in order to help the student focus on a college major or choose electives. The counselor would also need analytical skills for interpreting other types of assessments, including personality tests and ability testing.

Compassion and Empathy

School counselors should also have empathy and compassion. They may need to assist students facing a wide variety of difficult situations. Perhaps a classmate or teacher is seriously ill or passed away. The counselor might need to offer individual or class counseling during the grieving process. Counselors may also need to show compassion for students who have a difficult life at home. Students may live in households with little income, in bad neighborhoods or in families that include problems such as addiction. Counselors should also show empathy for students who must care for younger siblings or who have to work in addition to taking a full schedule of classes.

Each of these five key skills of school counselors can be honed. While some of these skills come naturally, other school counselors might have to work on them in order to provide their best efforts when assisting students. Being aware of these five key skills of school counselors could also help a person decide what type of school, which age group of students and what type of counseling to do in a school system.