A degree in school counseling requires some form of real-world experience gained through participation in school counseling practicums. This part of your curriculum covers a shorter schedule than an internship, and your activities are closely supervised. The practicum is undertaken strictly for academic credit and no remuneration should be expected. However, you can count on better understanding of school counseling principles after your practicum. Here are some interesting practicum options that will make use of your knowledge of counseling theories.
Shadowing an Employee
An employee involved in the day-to-day functions of a school's counseling office is a good candidate to shadow for school counseling practicums. This will give you the opportunity to observe the daily routine of the staff. Depending on the guidelines of your practicum, you may be given some basic tasks to handle under the supervision of the staff you are shadowing. In addition to the one-to-one instructions, your practicum mentor may discuss more details of the job such as explaining why certain tasks are performed in a certain way.
Observing and Recording School Counselor Interactions
The job of a school counselor entails working directly with students, parents and teachers. Close observation of this interaction and recording the proceedings for further discussion can be an eye-opener for you if you aspire to take this career path. This is a function of the school counselor that requires empathy, patience and professionalism as some discussions can be very personal and of a sensitive nature. This type of practicum will give you an idea of the strict confidentiality that should be observed in counseling sessions. You may be asked to sign non-disclosure forms prior to being allowed access to these sessions.
Supervised Counseling Sessions
Front line contact with students may be part of your school counseling practicum if you are fortunate to get into such a program. Under the supervision and guidance of the school counselor, you may be entrusted with doing basic interviews to document incidents, to establish background information or to complete intake and consent forms. You may be allowed to participate in counseling sessions to record information, and you may even be allowed to ask your own questions. Participation in these activities will give you a taste of the detailed work that is involved especially when dealing with minors and non-traditional family relationships. This type of practicum is a valuable opportunity to test if you are ready for personal interaction.
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Research Assistant to the School Counselor
The school counselor is part of the administrative team that develops preventive and interventional programs to make sure that students make productive choices. As a research assistant, you will have the chance to use your theoretical knowledge to contribute points for the programs. You may also be asked to participate in conducting interviews and preparing reports to support project proposals for funding purposes. Is so, you would gain some knowledge of grant writing strategies.
A career in school counseling includes diverse aspects. Experienced counselors say that the daily functions are never routine as each day brings new challenges with different students. School counseling practicums are intended to provide opportunities for potential counselors to experience parts of the job in real time. It is an opportunity to put theoretical knowledge to the test to see how well you can adapt what you know to real life situations.
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