May 1, 2018

As another academic year winds down, a window of opportunity opens for school counselors: A brief time to invest in personal and professional growth.

On the personal side, spring is an excellent time for reflection and renewal. Increased demands on their time and expertise, paired with decreased resources, is a perfect recipe for school counselor exhaustion, if not complete burnout.

"What are the symptoms of stress for you? When do you know that you are kind of coming to your breaking point, and what can you do about it?" asks Gerta Bardhoshi, an assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Education, whose area of expertise is counselor burnout and who teaches in the School Counseling Program

Bardhoshi notes that research indicates a self-aware school counselor, one who has taken the time to create a personal wellness plan and has put in place a support system both in and out of the workplace, and who may have well-developed interests beyond work, is a more productive, more effective school counselor. The time between the end of one academic year and the start of another is an excellent time to put in motion plans to become more self-aware.

On the professional side, Bardhoshi suggests school counselors think about their workplace environment and consider what's necessary to best position themselves for success – because the more successful the school counselor is, the more successful the students they support become.

"School counselors are really good about advocating for their students, but sometimes they need a little bit of encouragement for advocating for their roles," says Bardhoshi, who suggests school counselors consider pursuing these courses of action:

  • Review what you are currently doing and how you are doing it, and then work to align your role with professional best practices and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model
  • Discuss with your supervisor and/or school principal the appropriate roles and appropriate responsibilities of the school counselor versus other administrative support
  • Advocate for having more one-on-one or group time with your students

To view more tips and best practices for school counselors, visit the UI College of Education's Counselor's Corner.