Section 2.3: Deliver
Comprehensive School Counseling Framework for Connecticut Schools
- School counselors deliver a comprehensive school counseling curriculum to all students.
- School counselors provide both direct and indirect services.
- Student standards identify the students’ skills, habits of mind and knowledge necessary at each grade level.
- School counselors spend 80% or more of their time working directly with students.
- Twenty percent (20%) or less time is spent working on behalf of students through program coordination, collaboration, consultation and referrals.
Making the CT Model Work: Checklist for this section:
- Direct Services
- School Counseling Curriculum
- Individual Services
- Responsive Services
- Indirect Services
- Program Coordination & Supervision
- Counselor Use of Time
At the core of the Comprehensive School Counseling Framework are the services that are delivered to students. This section in part focuses on direct services: the face-to-face interactions that school counselors have with their students through the school counseling curriculum, student appraisal, and advisement and counseling. It also focuses on indirect services that are delivered on behalf of the student and include consultation, collaboration, referrals, and program management. All components of the deliver section are aimed at helping students overcome barriers to their learning and achieving success.
Direct vs. Indirect Services
Direct services are preventative and responsive and are defined by interaction with students. Preventative services include the implementation of the school counseling curriculum, where all students engage in skill development to help them be successful across all three domains. Responsive services are a reaction to a crisis or immediate need experienced by a student or school community. Indirect services are predominantly responsive and focus on activities and services on behalf of students.
(with the student)
- School Counseling Curriculum
- Individual Student Planning (appraisal and advisement)
- Responsive Services (counseling)
(on behalf of the student)
- Consultation and Collaboration
- Advocacy for students
- Referrals Program Coordination
Direct Student Services
Direct student services are provided by the school counselor when working directly with students. This face-to-face time includes teaching the school counseling curriculum, individual student planning and responsive services. These services are data-driven and meant to help promote healthy development and a positive attitude toward work and learning, and help students achieve success in school as well as effectively identify postsecondary choices.
School Counseling Curriculum
Through the curriculum, school counselors teach classroom lessons organized into three domains—academic, career and social-emotional—to all students. This curriculum consists of structured lessons that follow a scope and sequence of student competencies and are designed to help students attain the desired knowledge, habits of mind and skills appropriate for their developmental level. The implementation of the curriculum may be done through classroom school counseling lessons, small group work or through short-term individual counseling with students.
Curriculum materials may include books, electronic resources and web-based systems, assessment tools, and other planning materials.
An outline of the school counseling curriculum is a visual representation that provides a global view of the programs that address grade level standards and competencies contained in the CCSCF 2020. The curriculum outlines the when and how lessons, activities, and interventions are delivered to students. To develop a school-specific curriculum outline, school counselors review student performance data and needs assessments to identify priority standards and competencies. School counselors then align the identified competencies to lessons delivered at each grade level they serve. A school counseling curriculum is not meant to cover all standards and student competencies contained in the CCSCF, rather, school counselors must make informed decisions about sequencing, pacing, and lesson planning which can then be used to provide targeted lessons effectively and efficiently throughout the year.
Needs Assessments — The use of needs assessments in writing the school counseling curriculum is important. Needs assessments are generally given to various stakeholders—students, families, and staff—to gauge the needs of the school. This data is then used by school counselors to drive the standard curriculum that is given to students each year as well as additional curriculum that may need to be specifically delivered to students throughout the year. Needs assessments can also be used to help school counselors determine what lessons need to be delivered to all students in the classroom at a tier 1 level, to students in small groups at the tier 2 level, and to individual students at the tier 3 level. (See Appendix I for sample needs assessments).
Lesson Planning — Lesson plans should include student objectives, student standards and competencies that the lesson will meet, activities to meet the student competencies, and assessment methods (See Appendix G for a sample lesson plan).
Individual Student Planning
Individual student planning allows the school counselor to work with students to identify academic, career, and personal goals. It gives the student the opportunity to evaluate their education and identify pathways that will lead to future career endeavors. School counselors provide students with the necessary tools during individual planning so that the student may develop an educational plan as well as a postsecondary plan. Each year, the school counselor meets with the student to revise and adjust the student’s portfolio and plan based on their individual needs. School counselors may often include families in the individual planning process.
Student Success Plans
The school counseling curriculum provides information and skill development to support the schoolwide Student Success Plan (SSP) through the individual student planning component of the comprehensive program. The SSP implementation is a schoolwide effort with collaboration among school counselors, faculty and staff. The SSP is an individualized student-driven plan intended to address the students’ needs and interests through various activities developed through an electronic portfolio. As part of the school counseling contribution to the SSP, each year starting in grade 6 and progressing through grade 12, students focus on educational and postsecondary planning, goal setting, and highlighting student work completed through the school counseling curriculum.
Responsive services allow the school counselor to address the immediate needs of students and includes counseling services as well as indirect services through collaboration and consultation. Students often face a number of challenges and barriers such as academic problems, personal family and relationship or other social-emotional issues that result in the need for individual and group counseling as well as other prevention and remediation services. School counselors work with students to overcome the barriers they may have to their learning and otherwise healthy development.
Individual and Group Counseling
Through the use of the needs assessment, and student, staff, and family referrals, school counselors can provide individual and group counseling to students in need. Tier 2 and 3 services are part of the MTSS offered by school counselors and are aimed at providing specific skills to students. Small group counseling should be included as part of the responsive services provided, K–12, and allows for school counselors to provide counseling to students in groups of 4-8 around a common theme. For example, school counselors may create a peer group to help students with executive functioning skills, friendship skills, or a group on managing grief. Group work may look slightly different depending on the grade level, but ultimately provide students with new skills and support in a group setting.
Crisis Management Services
As part of the comprehensive framework, school counselors can provide preventative services on an ongoing basis such as group and individual counseling. School counselors serve as part of the crisis response team within a building, providing students and staff with the necessary resources and supports during a crisis. This may include counseling due to the death of a student or staff member, conflict resolution, or peer mediation.
504 and Special Education Supports
School counselors work with and support all students, including students with individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans. They are often a part of multidisciplinary teams that collaborate on providing advocacy, services, and supports for students with specialized needs. School counselors may provide “assistance in developing academic, transition, and postsecondary plans for students with IEPs and 504 plans” (ASCA, 2016 — position statement “The School Counselor and Students with Disabilities”).
School Counselors in Secondary Transition
School counselors play a vital role in transition planning for all students, including those with disabilities, as they are trained in career exploration, postsecondary education options, and college preparation. Transition planning is the responsibility of all members of the planning and placement team (PPT). School counselors, if providing transition services to a student, should inform the PPT about the amount of time and the service delivery format required to meet the transition IEP goals and objectives identified on the IEP, based on the individual needs of the student. The CT CORE Transition Skills identifies sixteen skills areas associated with a successful transition from secondary education to adult life for students with disabilities, and were designed to assist in the development of IEP transition goals and objectives and the provision of transition services.
Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation
School counselors collaborate with other support service personnel to work with students who are reported as self-harming or who may have suicidal ideation. School districts typically have a protocol in place in regards to self-harm and suicidal ideation. If a school district does not have a protocol in place, school counselors should collaborate with administrators and other support services personnel to develop a protocol. Assessment tools such as the Columbia Suicide Severity-Rating Scale (CSS-RS) or other district-approved measurements may be used to make an initial assessment so that the support services personnel can refer the student and family/guardian to the appropriate services. Upon the student’s return to school, counselors would be a part of the re-entry team to devise a suitable safety and service plan for the student.
Indirect Student Services
Indirect student services are provided by the school counselor on behalf of students. Consultation with staff, administration and families on the challenges and barriers that students face becomes an important part of the school counseling framework. Through collaboration within the school and with outside agencies, school counselors are able to develop programming as part of the comprehensive school counseling framework that meets the needs of students, families and community members. Collaboration also allows for the school counseling department to make connections with outside agencies to provide students and families with a number of resources that are available to them to help with issues that are not otherwise within the scope of the school day. By providing referrals, families are able to connect with needed services not only within the school system, but in the community as well.
Providing Services Virtually: Virtual/Telehealth Counseling
There are times that it may become necessary for school districts to deploy other methods of delivering school counseling services. This may be due to schools closing for extended periods of time, alternate plans for snow days, or a crisis due to the safety and wellness of staff and students (e.g., a pandemic, environmental issue, or school violence). School counselors must be able to maintain school counseling services for students within the district under all circumstances.
School counselors should work together with the administrative and multidisciplinary teams to create an alignment between the crisis plan, the virtual counseling process, and the code of ethics. This is to ensure that school counselors are following the same systematic procedures during a virtual counseling session, including emergencies.
When schools are operating under virtual telehealth services, the top priority of school counselors should be providing direct services to the students on their caseload. Students will need a connection to staff they are most comfortable with to process how they are feeling and to address any situations of concern that they may have. Meeting with students via a virtual platform may be important to maintaining relationships. However, important considerations need to be made: How will the school counselor protect privacy and confidentiality? What are the district’s guidelines for virtual counseling? How will school counselors set ground rules for working in groups via a virtual platform?
Indirect Services: There are plenty of ways to administer indirect services virtually. Meetings with other support staff to determine how school counselors will deliver multi-tiered systems of support to students will become a necessary part of this process. Counselors should be regularly collaborating with other staff who are working with students to determine what the student needs. Connect with families to provide resources and referrals as needed. It will be vital to work with the support staff team to develop what resources are currently still available in your community to refer families as necessary.
School Counseling Curriculum: It is important that counselors still find ways to deliver the school counseling curriculum. Counselors can hold classes through virtual video platforms, or record lessons using video or voice-through programs. Providing a recorded lesson along with other activities can allow students to access the work and still complete the school counseling curriculum.
Differentiation and Special Education: School counselors should be working with special education staff and teachers on differentiating their school counseling lessons and providing different modalities of instruction for all students and to ensure continued implementation of the student’s IEP and 504 plans in the virtual setting.
Crisis Plans During Virtual Times: It is important that school counselors work with the administration and other support staff to develop a crisis plan for extended school closures. This plan should include how to respond to students in crisis, what to do in the event of student/staff/parent/community member deaths, and other possible crisis scenarios. Just as in general crisis planning, school counselors serve as an important member of the crisis team and should provide input on how they can best help students during times of crisis, even during extended school closures.
Ethics in Virtual Counseling: Virtual counseling can create barriers for some students and can also develop challenges along the way. The ASCA Code of Ethics in virtual counseling are imperative. The same ethics that would apply in the school counselor’s office should still apply in the virtual setting. School counselors need to think about how they can address confidentiality for students and privacy issues and ensure that students understand the use of technology to ensure privacy and confidentiality in this setting. The school counselor should discuss the limitations of virtual school counseling with students and families before the first session starts. Please see: ASCA’s position statement on Virtual School Counseling.
Considerations of virtual platforms during regular school sessions
Using various virtual platforms can be utilized during the regular school year by school counselors to help accommodate both students and families. Video conferencing could be used to meet with parents who are unable to come into the building for meetings to provide opportunities for families to participate.
School counselors can also consider using virtual platforms to provide a space for classroom lessons and activities as well as a place where students can locate school counseling announcements, scholarships, forms, and other pertinent information.
Virtual school counseling is essential, especially during times of crisis. Continuing to foster relationships with families and supporting students is critical to helping the overall well-being of students during virtual schooling. Establish procedures and protocols ahead of time so that in the event of an extended school closing, students, families, and staff are aware of how you will best support students during these times.