As a school counselor, you have a monumental job! The many demands on your time and attention come with lightening speed and an urgency many never experience on the job! It doesn’t matter if you serve students in an elementary, middle or high school, your mission is to help all students adapt to and thrive in academia while tending to their emotional and mental health and assuring they are advance to the next grade or are accepted into the best college. One factor that contributes greatly to the difficulty of the job is the increasingly large number of students you are expected to serve. It is imperative that you take steps to regularly practice of self-care. Studies show that being kind to yourself can help you reach your goals.
First, let take a brief look at the sheer number of students you are tasked with serving. According to a study completed in December 2014 -- Texas School Counselor Study: Exploring the Supply, Demand, and Evolving Roles of School Counselors –- conducted by The Ray Marshall Center, an educational research group affiliated with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, student to school counselor ratios have consistently risen since 2001. With the average elementary school counselor serving 612 students, the middle school counselor expected to serve 448 students, and the high school counselor responsible for 355 students, no wonder it seems like an impossible job! As a former school counselor who has worked at all levels, I often experienced a feeling of complete overwhelm at the end of a week…or a day!
Next, let’s look at practicing self-care in order to meet the demands of school counseling. Upon reflection of what you tackle daily as a school counselor, it is amazing what you are able to make happen on a daily basis, but at what cost? Surviving another day and checking the boxes of our to-do list can send leave bodies, minds and emotions frazzled, making it harder to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. As a result, self-care became a necessity for the brave-heart who chose school counseling as a career. Adopting a regular practice of self-care is a critical weapon against burnout. Check out this article from Susan Hanson of www.school-counseling-zone.com for some great self-care strategies for school counselors.