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Guidance counselors are school counselors that provide students with continuing education and career guidance and support. Public and private elementary, middle, and high schools can employ the services of a guidance counselor. The training, certification, and other job responsibilities required of school guidance counselors depend on their location. Although the majority of their job responsibilities focus on preparing students for the next stage in their educations, careers, and overall lives, guidance counselors can help students with personal and social competencies, too. Usually, school counselors do not focus on these areas, though, and leave them instead to the therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist employed by the school or school district.
Normally, the job title “guidance counselor” refers to a type of student counselor. Where the different types of guidance counselors are located are within the different places of employment. For example, a school guidance counselor usually works as a middle school counselor or a high school counselor. It is not uncommon for elementary schools to employ guidance counselors, though. Usually, student counselors are not limited to one type of school and can find employment within both the public and private education sectors.
Traditionally, guidance counselors focus on helping students prepare for future careers. This can involve assisting them in choosing a career path based on their interests and strengths, as well as selecting and applying for colleges or vocational programs to receive training for those careers. Depending on the school, a guidance counselor might even help his students choose secondary courses appropriate for the types of prerequisite education or training they will need to enter their choice colleges or vocational schools. Some guidance counselors might provide counseling in personal and social areas of the students’ lives, too. Even so, these days many schools leave such services to school therapists, psychologists, or even psychiatrists.
In some countries, like the United States and China, educational specialists provide guidance counseling services. In others, like Japan and Mexico, classroom teachers combine guidance counseling services with their regular teaching duties. Regardless of the specific position title and any combined job duties, training and certification required of guidance counselors can vary depending on the location. For example, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the major accreditation program in the United States. This means most people planning careers in the field of guidance counseling will attend colleges or universities with degree programs accredited by the CACREP.