Feb. 5 celebrates school counselors for the important role they play in the lives and wellbeing of children during their school years.

School counselors can be found in every school in Philadelphia. But some people don’t understand the important work they do and the role they play in the lives of students. We’ve answered some common questions about school counselors below.

What do school counselors do?

School counselors provide guidance and counseling to help students navigate personal challenges, academic difficulties, and career planning. They help reduce bullying in schools, help kids understand how to do better at school and plan support, and assist students as they graduate from high school and move forward with their careers and education. They play an important role in supporting students’ academic, social, and emotional wellbeing.

Are school counselors therapists?

While school counselors may provide therapeutic support, they are not considered therapists in the traditional sense. School counselors primarily focus on providing guidance and counseling services within the school. Their role involves helping students with academic, career, and personal/social challenges.

School counselors can conduct individual and group counseling sessions, assess students’ academic and social strengths and needs, and develop personalized strategies to promote their success. Through these services, they can help students with anxiety or depression, and assist others that have a diagnosis such as ADHD with a support plan to help them do well at school. However, if a student requires more intensive or specialized therapy, school counselors often provide referrals to outside mental health professionals or community resources.

Can school counselors tell parents what a student shares with them?

School counselors must maintain confidentiality. Information a student shares cannot be shared with other people, including parents. This confidentiality helps create trust and safety for students who share their concerns without fear of judgment or disclosure.

There are, however, situations where counselors may be required to share information to parents or other adults. These situations typically involve concerns related to the safety and wellbeing of the student or others. For example, if a student expresses thoughts of self-harm or harm to others, or if there is suspected abuse or neglect, a counselor may have a legal duty to report such information to the appropriate authorities or inform parents.

School counselors work hard to help kids feel happy and safe at school. They provide help when needed and advocate for the students’ wellbeing. If you see a school counselor this February, remind them how important they are for the schools and students they serve!