Should My Child See the School Counselor?

I recently divorced and my child is having some problems dealing with that. The school wants him to see the school counselor.

DR. RUTHERFORD: I think that parents have to consider this very seriously because this is a significant action to take. There are some school counselors that are very good, of course, but personally, if it were my child, I would prefer to see an independent therapist outside of the school system.

I worry a lot about the information that gets passed around in schools between teachers and counselors. Talking with a school counselor may compromise confidentiality, which may end up putting your child at a disadvantage.

MOLLY: This dilemma was submitted from a mother in Denver, Colorado. Are you concerned because the child could get labeled as a troublemaker or something like that within the school?

DR. RUTHERFORD: Yes. Labeling does happen in an educational work place, and life is harder for a child who is known to all the teachers in the school as a “troubled child.”  The way to avoid that is to see a counselor outside of the school who is not beholden or tempted to share information with the school.

I think, of course, that there is always the possibility for long term effects from how a divorce is handled. If it is mishandled within the school system, the child can develop a distrust for teachers and/or authority figures that can last a lifetime.

If the school isn’t discreet in how they try to help these kids – and, in my experience, you can’t count on discretion in this environment – then the whole endeavor could end up causing more harm than good for the child.

*** A note from Dr. Rutherford: The response to this post has been overwhelming. What I could have clarified further in the original post was that I was specifically talking about the policy of confidentiality in some schools and I was not talking about the individuals that are filling the very important role of school counselors.

I appreciate all the feedback and am glad to hear that today’s students may be able to enjoy more confidentiality from this important academic resource. Thanks for being a part of the conversation!

ding 41 comments on “Should My Child See the School Counselor?

  1. I agree with Dr Rutherford on this subject. From my experience school counselors are not equipped to help a child with a personal or psychological issue if not purely academic in nature. Because many school systems have very few counselors to child ratio – they simply have not enough resources to grasp the child’s scope of needed help. An outside therapist is more likely to offer long term guidance and therapy. Thank you for a wonderful informative and helpful site Molly and Dr Rutherford

  2. Many mental health agency’s now have school based services. The therapist is part of an outside agency but facilitates treatment by seeing the child and sometimes the parent in the school setting. There is still confidentiality.

  3. I am both shocked and disgusted by Dr. Rutherford’s irresponsible advice to a concerned parent. What data is she using to validate her claim that school counselors are careless with confidentiality? The colleagues that I have had the pleasure of working with value confidentiality as it is the foundation of building relationships with our students. It’s true, not ever school counselor is perfect (shocking, I know), but to disregard an entire profession – and actively turn parents away from their child’s advocate in the school setting – is very concerning. Did Dr. Rutherford have a bad experience with a school counselor? Perhaps, but doesn’t every profession have professionals that are sometimes less than, well, professional? Some doctors have molested patients, so would Dr. Rutherford advise parents not to seek medical attention for their children? Some police officers have been found to be less than ethical, so would Dr. Rutherford advise parents not to seek help if needed? Essentially, this is what she is advising. I am saddened to know that perhaps her experience with school counselors was not positive, because the school counselors I have had the pleasure of working with for 11 years are extremely ethical change-agents who absolutely hold confidentiality in its highest regard. They work tirelessly to assist in the academic, personal/social, and career development of young people, continue to seek professional development to stay at the top of the field, and always advocate for their students. To make make vast and unsubstantiated claims about a profession she obviously knows very little about is at best irresponsible.

    • I could not agree more with this. As school counselors, confidentiality is only breached when a student is in danger of harming him/herself or others, they are being harmed in someway, or there is suspected abuse.

      School counselors are there to benefit the child, support them, and advocate for their best interests. If a longer-term counseling relationship would be suggested by the school counselor, they could absolutely refer the parent to an outside therapist. However, many schools offer a support group for children whose parents are divorcing/are divorced or separated.

      Counseling in the schools encompasses so much more than what it used to. I would say let the child see the school counselor. It disheartens me as a soon to be graduate of a Master’s program in School Counseling that this is the advice given.

      • Cary – Thank you so much for your input. I may have overreached when suggesting parents seek private counseling instead of through the school system. I think I have heard too many painful stories from adolescent kids and their parents about privacy in the school system, and it has made me wary of involving the school in treatment cases. Not all schools are the same, nor are counselors. Perhaps my views have been skewed by what I hear in my office.

    • Jenny – I am pleased to hear that you have had positive experiences with the school counseling system, and I hope there are lots more people like you. Perhaps I have overstated the case; it’s been disturbing to see the sometimes negative effects that occur in the school system. So, I want to thank you for your strong input; it will help me to reevaluate the confidentiality issues within school systems.

  4. This post is appalling. As a school counselor myself, I hold confidentiality in the highest regards with ALL of my students. There are of course times when confidentiality must be breached, as Cary mentioned in the above comment. This is only to ensure the safety and well being of the student. I must also say that the comments Dr. Rutherford said about labeling a child are completely false. School counselors are the #1 advocate for each and every student in their schools-no matter what the case is. Our ethics also come from the American Psychological Association (same as licensed psychiatrists and psychologists). No matter what the background or situation with a student, the counselor will always help that student. Yes, there are dishonest people in education, but that is with any job! Readers of this blog, please do not believe that all school counselors are like how Dr. Rutherford portrays them to be. All of the school counselors I know in my area (upper Midwest) are amazing at what they do and go out of their way to help all of their students!

    • Heather – Thank you for your comments and observations. I have been relieved to hear from school counselors that my perceptions from patients and their parents are far from universal. I believe school counselors can definitely be helpful to students; my worry is more around what happens when the child is discussed in group settings. It’s good to hear that confidentially is respected in those settings.

      • Dr. Rutherford,
        Thank you for your response. I am glad to see that the other posts are helping you to see that our schools have changed over the years. In my experience, the school counselor is one of the go-to educators in our buildings to help students. I believe in most cases, private and personal information about students is not shared without the student’s consent. Getting help at any level is our goal as well, especially if students do not want to seek help within the school or the situation is out of the school counselor’s scope. Thanks again for your comments. This has been a great discussion and very eye-opening for others I hope!

          • It is incredibly dangerous to this profession (not to mention irresponsible) when people make sweeping generalizations based on hearsay rather than looking at research, licensing/certification requirements and ethical codes.

            I am pleased to hear that you are considering another post. Perhaps you might think about reviewing the code of ethics for School Counselors (ASCA) before doing so.

    • ***ACA and ASCA for school counselors’ code of ethics

      I am impressed by all of the comments and discussion by fellow school counselors! Keep up the good work!

  5. As a School Counselor, I think it important to clarify that that world of counseling within schools has changed drastically in the last ten years. School Counselors are equipped with both the education and the ethics to handle students cases just the same as an outside therapist. Granted, we cannot offer the same long term therapy – but we can still be there for support in terms of individual counseling and small group counseling that are both effective and helpful for students who have gone through a variety of situations.

    School Counselors are trained in the same aspects of theory, development, and techniques as any other therapist. School Counselors are required to have a Masters Degree, in addition to logging 800 hours of practicum and internship time. Many School Counselors go on to become Nationally Certified Counselors and become LPC’s. In addition, School Counselors abide by a code of ethics that put confidentiality high above.

    School Counselors become an effective and wonderful advocate for students within the schools as they have a collaborative relationship with all parts of the system – admin, teachers, parents, and students. By seeking help from a School Counselor, not only can a child recieve daily support, but parents can also be referred to other sources of help as well. By not seeking help from a School Counselor, the system misses a part of the holistic picture of a child that if acknowledged could help them within their eight hour day at school. There is no seperation of life for these students – thier acadmics, thier social/emotion, and their personal lives all impact one another. School Counselors have the fortune to work with all three of those aspects.

    Dr. Rutherford – as a member of the helping profession, I would ask that you please educate yourself more clearly on the variety of other mental health professionals out there and what they do. There is no reason in which we should become a devisive bunch when we live in a society where seeking help is ALREADY a stigma.

    Thank you.

    • Tabitha – I’m really glad to hear that the system has been changing over the past decade. I think the experiences my patients have had have to do with the sharing of information with other parts of the school system, and it has worried me that these kids have experienced difficulties in this area. It sounds like some of that has been corrected over the years.

  6. This post offers parents wrong information about the role of school counselors. All school counselors are expected to uphold a variety of ethical rules, with the most important one being confidentiality. School counselors are certified by national and state boards to ensure they are meeting these requirements. As a psychologist, I believe it is important that parents and families have access to professionals in their schools. Professionals that support children should advocate for each other’s careers. I am a psychologist as well… and I fully support the work that school counselors are doing. By working together, we can advocate for early mental health screening, the use of evidence-based interventions, and the availability of mental health services.

    • Joanne – I appreciate your comments about confidentiality within the school system. I am receiving quite a few emails from school counselors who support your observations. I certainly didn’t mean to attack counselors themselves; my concern has always been more about how the child is seen in school. Obviously, a lot of counselors don’t agree with me. I’m happy to receive their concerns.

  7. Dr. Rutherford,

    I am a counselor education assistant professor– I train master’s level school counselors for their K-12 positions. I am also a previous school counselor and LPC. I train my school counselors to be advocates for their students in academic, career, and personal/social domains, and to uphold the ethics of the American Counseling Association and the American School Counselor Association. I know that not all members of a profession uphold the high standards of their profession, but that is the case for all professions: we have professionals that fall through the cracks in every field.

    I’m so glad that after getting more information, you have reconsidered your stance on school counselors. I recommend my school counseling students collaborate and consult with other mental health providers in and out of the schools, so we can work together collaboratively for the good of our students and their families.

    As members of the mental health professions, we should understand each others’ roles, collaborate, consult, and support each other.

    • Emily – Whew! I feel that I have really stirred the pot! I am very glad for all the input from school counselors. Perhaps my view has been skewed by the patients I see where it hasn’t gone well in the school. I would assume this is not across the board.

  8. As a school counselor, myself, I echo many of the comments above and am so saddened to see a professional in the psychological field disparage colleagues who could make a world of difference in the life of a child grappling with the divorce of his/her parents based on hearsay. Why would you ever suggest a child not have access to supportive resources at school- the place where they spend much of their time? School Counseling, be it in a group or individually, can be a wonderful compliment to outside counseling during an extremely trying time for a child. School-based therapists can be good but they are usually only there once a week at most and barely know the kids. Establishing rapport with them, as is the case with outside therapists, takes time whereas my students and I already have that. I have the huge benefit of seeing my students every day- to check in, to scale feelings, to reach that student in real time after a bad parent argument or a difficult transition from one house to another. Though it’s true our available time is in shorter increments than outside counseling would allow, the benefits to more frequent contact can be great. I run ” Banana Splits” groups for students going through parents getting a divorce, and the power of the group for students never ceases to amaze me. They find strength and solace in one another- in not feeling alone during this time.

    By advising parents not to have their child work with the School Counselor, you are setting the child up for further frustration. Who can help them deescalate day to day if behavioral problems come up? Who can help the teacher to develop strategies to cope effectively with these problems? Who can explain to the teacher how behavior might be affected so that he/she can be more understanding and empathetic to that child instead of making it a discipline issue? It’s not about sharing details with teachers- it’s about helping them to be more effective for their students. This can be done sensitively but not if the parent distrusts the professionals at school who are there to help, as you are advocating for them to do.
    I have worked with some excellent outside therapists who collaborated with me in treatment plans for the child, and those have produced amazing results for kids. I encourage Dr. Rutherford to try this, with the parent’s permission, and we may just surprise you. Our students are our passion and it’s our job to advocate for them while abiding by our ethical standards, as you do.

    • Brett – Your comments are very helpful to me. As I have said to another writer, I primarily see adolescents who have not fared so well in the school system. I have also said that school counselors can be very helpful to kids; it’s the sharing of information that is concerning for me. Perhaps I need to write another blog with my revised opinions.

  9. Dear Dr. Rutherford,
    Your negative ideas about school counselors are inaccurate. For many individuals in this country, school counselors are the first exposure to mental health help and intervention, and for many, within the school is the only place that parents will seek intervention. It is the counselor’s responsibility to then refer families to outside community resources if he/she does not believe that he/she can ethically serve this student to the best of his/her ability.
    In New York State, where I earned my Master’s degree in School Counseling (from Fordham University), programs are clinical in their approach to training and educating school counselors. In fact, we receive more clinical training than school social workers in New York State.
    I agree that many school staff members speak in a way about children that is inappropriate. However, please trust that the professionals who work in the school counseling field are well-trained and competent. We respect our ethical code and work hard to advocate for children and families.
    And for the topic of Divorce, I have run several successful “children of divorce/separation” groups for low income children who would otherwise not had the opportunity to share their feelings in a therapeutic setting.
    Please educate the parents of our country to utilize the professionals available at school. For many, counselors are an integral part of helping their children succeed academically, socially and emotionally.
    Erika

    • Erika – I have received quite a few emails from school counselors. I believe counselors have an important job to do, but my concerns have been around an issue that you mention – what happens when school staff members, who are not trained in confidentiality, speak inappropriately. Here’s what I might suggest: I would never refer a potential patient to an unknown therapist – no therapist that I know would do that, either. We all want to make sure that confidentiality and proficiency are assured. As with therapists, not all school systems are the same. I think it might be helpful if parents who want their children to see someone within the school system spend some time with the school counselor and feel confident that their – and their children’s – needs for confidentiality will be respected. If it is the school’s policy to share information with school staff members, then the parents should know about this before they agree to have their children seen.
      Thanks so much for your input. I’ve been learning a lot from school counselors!

  10. It saddens me to know that the view of school counselors is so warped. I am a school counselor who is also a National Certified Counselor. My training is the same as a Licensed Professional Counselor particularly in regards to ethics and confidentiality.

    When it comes to issues that my students face, such as divorce, it helps me to be aware so I can advocate for them. I also run groups for students whose parents are going through a divorce or have other difficult life issues. Ultimately, I refer students to outside counselors when I deem it necessary. For instance, when the issues require more than the brief counseling my role allows. My referral often helps keep the lines of communication open between outside therapy and the interventions the school might need to help the student succeed academically and emotionally. If a student is dealing with a heavy issue like divorce, they aren’t as focused on academics. It all goes hand in hand.

    I hope the views of school counselors begin to change. Especially by those we should be working hand in hand with like yourself, Dr. Rutherford.

    • Liz – Thank you so much for your input. I do think school counselors play an important role; it’s the confidentiality issue that is of concern for me. If the child is having a learning issue, that’s one thing; when it is psychological in nature, then I get more concerned about privacy. I have received a number of emails from school counselors, and I hear you. It sounds like your approach is a good one.

      • Dr. Rutherford, as I have reflected on this article and the many responses you received from other counselors, I began to think of the issue of confidentiality within schools. I must say, school counselors are in a unique situation. We are in a position where we need to collaborate with so many stakeholders. While maintaining confidentiality is of upmost importance, at times it is necessary to share relevant details with others. For example, I recently did a suicide assessment on a student. Due to the administrative processes at the school, I informed our principal and let her know of the action steps I was taking to insure the students safety. Part of this action steps required submittig a report to our district offices. I also had to inform the student’s parent. Weeks later when a teacher came to me regarding some “dark” writings the student had submitted in class, I let her know that I appreciated her concerns and that I was working with the student, but to let me know if anything else came up.

        In none of these situations am I trying to destroy the trust or rapport I have built with the student. However, working in a system, like a school, sometimes warrants collaborating with others. Just as working in a hospital or clinical setting might also lend itself to working with several people in order to provide the best care possible for the patient.

        • Liz – Of course you needed to share information when it relates to suicidal ideation. When there are threats of suicide or homicide or inability to care for oneself, it must be reported and dealt with. This is true for all therapists. The confidentiality concerns that I have exclude these possibilities. You’re right, school counselors are in a unique and sometimes awkward position of sharing information with school staff. I think it is a difficult place to be at times. Care should be taken in all circumstances, and I imagine counselors have some internal conflict at times.
          Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  11. It disheartens me that you would discredit an entire field of fellow mental health professionals. As previous commenters has mentioned, confidentiality, ethics, and the best interest of the child are at the forefront of the school counseling profession, as they are with other mental health professions. The picture that your post creates is that of school counselors gossiping and labeling students as “troublemakers” with other teachers in the teacher’s lounge. This is completely false.

    Schools are often the first place parents go to when seeking help for their child. Homeroom teachers, specials teachers, school counselors, and administrators have the unique opportunity to see students for eight hours, five days a week in both structured and unstructured activities. As a school counselor, I work closely with the educators and administrators in my school, as well as outside medical and mental health agencies. In order to provide the best care for my students, information regarding coping strategies, family dynamics, and personal/academic goals may be shared with a child’s teacher after parent permission is granted. This information is vital to the success of the student. If I am working on a coping strategy in individual or group counseling, it is imperative that the homeroom teacher be aware of it so that they may be able to monitor the student’s use of the strategy or help them remember to use it when the time is right. The same holds true for the work that my students do with outside therapists. The most successful cases are those that involve open communication between myself, the parents, and the outside therapist. Since the outside therapist does not see the student daily nor in the environment that they spend most of their time, school counselors can become their eyes and ears and help reinforce strategies they are working on in private counseling.

    For many students, seeking help from a school counselor is the only mental health assistance that they can receive for a multitude of reasons. To discourage parents from seeking help from a resource in the school only widens the divide between the home and school. In order to produce the most productive, healthy, and conscious members of society that we can, we must all work together and support one another. Demeaning an entire profession is not the answer. Just as I would never discredit the entire mental health profession if one of my students does not have success in outside therapy, I would ask that you do the same for school counselors. Each of my students is an individual, with their own individual needs, challenges, and gifts. Their issues with their specific teacher, school counselor, therapist, or even parent does not mean that the entire institution is to blame.

    • Ann – I appreciate your input and your concerns. The original blog post was dealing with divorcing parents and the school suggesting a form of therapy within the school system. My concern is not about how good the counselor is but rather the confidentiality issue within the school setting. Please accept my apology if it came across that I don’t think school counselors know what they are doing. Far from it. My focus is on confidentiality and when there is a breech made. The child and his parents should be made aware that when there are meetings about the child, information is “out there” and not everyone is trained, as a school counselor is, about the importance of confidentiality. If they are aware and okay with this, then there is no problem.

  12. Dr. Rutherford,
    Whew! I almost want to just say Ditto to my amazing colleagues and their comments. But, there is no way I can sit idle. When I read your blog and response to the parent I almost cried. Having been in this professiofor over 30 years and going from a “guidance counselor” to a “Professional School Counselor” makes me proud and Blessed. I can say that the number of parents and children I have helped over the years, is far too many to count. Unless, a student tells me he/she is going to harm themself or someone else I am ethichally bound to keep their confidence. However, sometimes in the spirit of “helping” a child or family we must talk. Education is a field where we ALL work together, our schools are staffed with Social Workers, School Psychologist, nurses, coaches, staff etc. We refer out to Mental Health, Psychologists, private physicians ets. We all work together to help “our children”. Yes, they are my children and I am offended and appalled that another “professional” or even a layman would advise a parent NOT to seek out the help that is FREE and available in the schools. Please, take one of your paid hours and go into a school and spend that hour with a school counselor, talk to them, observe what happens in that hour with their students and their time. My door is open if you can spare the time. We mostly counselor over 300-400 students in a year and we still get the job done. Please, in the future don’t judge what you do not have enough knowledge about. Refer out, if you can’t help.

    • Bea – You’re right, I have gotten some amazing information from your colleagues and realize that this blog post has created quite a dialogue. As I have said, the question is not the proficiency of school counselors – not at all! The question for the blog related to a divorce situation and the issue of confidentiality. Several of your colleagues spoke of this issue and the difficulty this presents in school where collaboration is a necessary function with the counselor. I believe that the school counselors do the very best possible, but confidentiality can sometimes take a second seat. It’s a complicated issue and no personal reflection on school counselors themselves. I apologize if it came across that way, but I certainly didn’t mean it that way.

  13. Dr. Rutherford,

    As a licensed clinical psychologist, I hope you are aware of the problems that can occur when a person makes a sweeping generalization…take a look around in our society and you can see that. I also hope that you are aware of the importance of doing research. I am a professional school counselor and I have had parents complain to me about clinical psychologists and how they have not been happy with their services and/or clinical skills. But even with all those complaints, I have never made a generalization about ALL clinical psychologists and their practices. I guess that is the difference in being a professional as opposed to making assumptions and forming opinions. If you have such a concern, perhaps you should pick up the phone and call the school counselor and have a conversation to research the issue or complaint. Oh, and research how the school counseling profession has grown and developed on the years.

    • Lakisha – You’re right – I don’t think I made it entirely clear that confidentiality was the issue, not the counselors themselves. I see that it did come across as a generalization of what can happen in schools, and have apologized for that. I think that school counseling is a tough job, and I can imagine getting caught in the middle of sharing information with other professionals and teachers and confidentiality can be daunting. This was not an indictment of counselors but rather what sometimes happens within the school environment.

      • You repeatedly have indicated that confidentiality is the issue, as though that is separate from being a professional school counselor. Professional school counselors adhere to ethical codes of both ACA and ASCA, which govern confidentiality. It is part of our profession, and it is the basis for our relationships with our students, just as it is for your relationships with clients. When you talk about it taking a back seat or imply that information is shared throughout the school, it implies that we are unethical and NOT following the ethical codes.

  14. Dear Dr. Rutherford,
    In the almost 30 years since I became a school counselor much has changed in the world, in schools, and families. What has not changed is the confidentiality with which all school counselors have been trained. I have read the comments of my colleagues and I am proud to be part of such an honorable, articulate, and hard-working group of professionals. I also appreciate the way you have revised your original view of my profession in response to those comments. I wish to address confidentiality from another perspective.
    School Counselors cannot protect families from themselves. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called to handle a family spilling their sordid story in the main office of the school in front of students, other parents, teachers and office staff. Or the number of times I’ve had teachers report concerns about students to me because the family was “having it out” at the ball field, a restaurant, or store. Or the parents that will discuss their private, confidential issues with their nail tech and/or hairdresser in a salon full of strangers. Or rant and rave about their ex or soon to be ex to a “friend” while waiting outside the classroom door to pick-up their child at the end of the school day, or on the phone with their child nearby, or heaven forbid, on Facebook for all the world to see. We cannot protect the confidentiality of families who have no discretion themselves.
    As to schools labeling a child as a trouble-maker, maybe that child has labeled him/herself. My faculty, staff and I can keep a child’s and a family’s problems confidential, but if a child tells everyone they have contact with at school some of the scary happenings, thoughts and feeling they tell me neither I, nor my school colleagues can be responsible for that breach. Then there’s the child who brazenly curses the teacher and classmates, throws furniture and punches and kicks students and staff. We cannot as school counselors or a school staff prevent what those students go home and report to their families. I say to you, that a vast and overwhelming majority of the time it is the parents or their child who fail to be confidential, not the school and certainly NOT the school counselor. I strongly recommend you get the other side of the story from your client’s school before making future judgments about a particular school or school counselors in general.
    You know schools are much maligned in the media and when a school incident is reported in which a school is said to have responded unfairly or to the extreme in the way they handle a student, I beg you to remember there is more to that story. However, it will never be told to the public due to confidentially. So rather than reveal the numerous other problems or incidents involving parents and/or children the school quietly takes the brunt of public outcry for their actions.
    Is my profession perfect? Is yours, or those of any group of individuals who share a common job title or training? Of course not, and those few who do not honor the profession in question should be reported to whatever professional organization is responsible for their policing their conduct. But to have a respected professional such as yourself make blanket comments not only about school counselors, but confidentiality and schoolpersonnel as if they were the standard for an entire profession is disappointing. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

  15. In reading the original post from Dr. Rutherford, I must admit I am saddened to witness counseling professional turning away students from seeing a school counselor. School counselors are the front lines of mental health for the school age child. We are a free and public resource for EVERY student with social, emotional, or academic challenges. It does not make a difference to me if a student has insurance or pays out of pocket, I immediately and without question serve all. As a school counselor, I could be the first person to share with a student that the divorce or separation is not his or her fault, or explain there are many other kids who have gone through similar situations or possibly help the student to find the bright side of a challenging situation.
    The idea that you as a professional would tell a parent not to send his or her child to the school counselor is appalling. We work incredibly hard to help our students everyday and when we cannot, we refer to people like you. You have said many times in your responses that you are thinking of writing a follow up post about your original blog. I would think now is a good time to do that.

  16. I just want to say THANK YOU to all of my school counseling colleagues who were able to voice what I was thinking after reading this article. It saddened me and actually made my heart break a little to think that a professional would advise parents NOT to seek help from a school counselor. In my school,we have families that can’t afford an “outside therapist”. I have helped many students in my 11 years as a counselor, not breaking confidentiality and able to provide these kids with resources private therapist may not be able to provide. I’m offended by this article and don’t appreciate the comments from Dr. R saying she was “just worried about confidentiality” as if we aren’t professionally trained about counseling ethics! I’m so frustrated by this and I pray that parents who read the original post also take time to read the follow up comments!

  17. Bravo, school counselors! Thank you for your advocation of our profession and the beneficial work we do for our students and families. I would suggest that Dr. Rutherford speak with a couple of school counselors in her area to see what we really do and how the school counselor-outside agency partnership can best support the child/teen. She says the purpose of the article was to address the confidentiality piece, but her closing advisement to parents was that more harm could come from their child meeting with their school counselor. To make such a blanket statement about school counselors without having all the information is irresponsible. I do hope she makes revisions in her article.

  18. I really dislike your response to the mother’s question. It is imperative for the school to know when a child is going through a big life change or “traumatic” event. The counselor is a great support if intense feelings come up through the school day as well as providing further resources to the child and the parent. Why wouldn’t you want the teacher to be aware of what is going on? From the teacher’s perspective your student is failing because they aren’t doing their work when in fact they are not completing their work because of home issues. Teachers are more willing to go above and beyond to work with a student when they are going through something as painful as a divorce.

  19. The response to this post has been overwhelming. What I could have clarified further in the original post was that I was specifically talking about the policy of confidentiality in some schools and I was not talking about the individuals that are filling the very important role of school counselors.

    I appreciate all the feedback and am glad to hear that today’s students may be able to enjoy more confidentiality from this important academic resource. Thanks for being a part of the conversation!