Among the many job titles you come across in the education sector, that of school counselor vs school psychologist often causes a lot of confusion. When most people think of counseling, they think of mental health therapy, so it’s only natural that they associate the role of a psychologist with this position. However, when you’re talking about school-based positions, school counselors and school psychologists often have very different roles and responsibilities.
Duties of a School Psychologist
In an educational setting, a school psychologist has a main focus on the mental health care of the student population. Much of their time is spent collecting information and analyzing the individual needs of students who may need special education services or additional treatment. Their duties include helping to shape administrative and district policies for mental health and special education services for the students in their school district. In most cases, a school psychologist serves a number of different schools throughout a district.
There may be one on one services provided to students who need intervention or treatment for educational challenges or behavior modification. In most scenarios, their involvement is strictly around arranging the testing, evaluation, and arrangement of services a student may need. The nomadic nature of this position can make it challenging to create individual connections with students.
School psychologists may also be called upon to help with counseling individual students or groups of students who are dealing with a crisis situation, such as the loss of a parent, friend, or other individuals with a close relationship.
Duties of a School Counselor
In most cases, every school facility has at least one school counselor on staff. A school counselor will focus more on the everyday needs of the population of their school. On an elementary level, they might work with students who are facing social or personal challenges or implement programs to combat bullying. In middle school, helping students to overcome peer pressure and talking with them about drug and alcohol awareness might be a major focus. As students move to the teen years, the focus of a school counselor begins to shift to helping them plan for higher education or career choices, among other concerns.
A school counselor will have individual connections with the students within the school, whether they are in need of special services or are fully served by a standard educational program. He or she can reach out to the school psychologist to help arrange testing and evaluation for those who seem to need a bit more than offered on a daily basis within the school.
Though the positions of school psychologist and school counselor have the same core focus of helping students to create their best possible outcomes, the main differences come in the way their contributions are delivered. Both school counselors and school psychologists are very important roles in education, but they have their own unique duties in achieving the overall mental health of the student population.