High-stakes testing, unhealthy relationships, homelessness, bullying and harassment, college-level coursework, substance abuse, negative peer influence, challenging family structures — the list could go on describing the many factors that contribute to the rising rates of teenagers who are facing high levels of anxiety in schools across the country. Fortunately for students, the role of their student counselor, their biggest support system and advocate, has also evolved throughout the years.
What they do
The role of the school counselor has changed since the time the profession was known as “guidance counselor.” Professional school counselors are more equipped than ever to support the development of the whole child. School counselors strive to reach the needs of their students by supporting them in the areas of academics, social-emotional development and college/career readiness. It is with these core components that school counselors dedicate their time so they can become the best advocate and support system in the schools. They can address the ever-increasing levels of anxiety that are more consistently being found in students ranging from the early stages of elementary school to seniors in high school.
There are interventions that school counselors use when working with students dealing with high levels of anxiety. For one, they develop coping strategies with the student when he/she senses anxiety or an upcoming panic attack. They also provide a safe place for a student who begins to feel anxious in a stressful situation.
Counselors also encourage the student to talk through his/her anxiety and help discover ways to overcome those emotions so he/she can remain productive in the classroom. Finally, counselors can connect students and families to community resources that can offer support outside of the school setting.
Feelings of anxiety do not have to become a barrier for students to pursue the successes they strive to achieve. These students need support in developing a positive growth mindset that will equip them with the tools they need to overcome the anxieties that may currently seem stifling to them, but instead can become empowering for them. School counselors can help develop that shift in mindset so students not only find their successes in high school, but also continue to find those successes throughout their life.