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School Counseling

The vision of the School Counseling Staff is to work with schools to help ensure that each school has a fully implemented comprehensive school counseling program that supports the academic, career, and social/emotional development of all students through the delivery of counseling curriculum, individual student planning, and responsive services. The program is managed and evaluated through system support activities that also support the on-going mission of the school.

Numerous resources are available to help implement school counseling programs. In addition, the School Counseling section has developed a Counseling System of Support model to provide professional development opportunities for school counselors to collaborate, share, work together, and support one another in the development and enhancement of their school counseling programs.

About School Counseling

The Need for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Counselor at chalkboardIn the 21st century, the United States and the state of Missouri continue to undergo changes industrially, occupationally, socially, and economically. These changes are creating challenges for students in Missouri. A rapidly changing work place and labor force; violence in homes, schools, and communities; divorce; teenage suicide; substance abuse; and sexual experimentation are just a few examples of these challenges. These challenges are real, and they are having substantial impact on the social/emotional, career, and academic development of students.

Missouri's Response

Comprehensive school counseling programs in Missouri, implemented by certified, school counselors, in collaboration with parents/guardians, teachers, and administrators, are effective in assisting students to respond to these and similar challenges. School counseling programs are integral in the educational process as they assist all students in developing knowledge and skills to handle these challenges and to complete a college and career ready program so that they are better prepared for the multiple opportunities awaiting them after high school.

Missouri's Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Counselor at chalkboardThe comprehensive school counseling program is an integral part of a school district's total educational program. It is developmental by design and includes sequential activities organized and implemented by school counselors with the active support of parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, and the community.

As a developmental program, it addresses the needs of all students by facilitating their academic, career, and social/emotional, development as well as helping create positive and safe learning climates in schools. At the same time, the program assists students as they face issues and resolve problems that may prevent their healthy development.

The Work of School Counselors in Missouri

School counselors spend 100 percent of their time working in the program assisting all students to complete a college and career ready curriculum that prepares them for their successful transition to post-secondary education or the world of work. This is accomplished through the full implementation of a comprehensive, K-12 school counseling program providing all students with developmental and preventative activities and services delivered through the four interrelated program components of counseling curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services, and system support.

The Preparation of School Counselors in Missouri

Elementary counselor with studentsSchool counselors work at elementary, middle/junior high, high school, and/or postsecondary levels. They have a Master's degree or higher in school counseling from a state-approved school counselor preparation program, and they have been certified as a school counselor by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. They are professional educators with specialized training in academic, career, and social/emotional development as well as mental health. Their preparation program includes: 
    • human growth and development 
    • social and cultural diversity
    • assessment
    • career development and planning
    • helping relationships
    • group work
    • professional relationships
    • legal and ethical standards
    • professional orientation, identity and well-being
    • counseling program development, implementation, evaluation, and enhancement

The Effectiveness of Comprehensive School Counseling Programs in Missouri

Empirical research conducted in the state of Missouri since the 1990's has shown that when certified, school counselors have the time, the resources, and the structure of a comprehensive school counseling program to work in, they contribute to positive student academic and career development as well as the development of positive and safe learning climates in schools.

Students (22,964) in 236 small, medium, and large high schools in Missouri with more fully-implemented counseling programs as judges by school counselors reported that:
    • they had earned higher grades
    • their education better prepared them for the future
    • their schools had a more positive climate

Lapan, R.T., Gysbers, N.C. & Sun, Y. (1997). The impact of more fully implemented guidance programs on the school experiences of high school students: A statewide evaluation study. Journal of Counseling & Development, 75, 292-302. 

When middle school classroom teachers in Missouri (4,868) in 184 small, medium, and large middle schools rated counseling programs in their schools as more fully implemented, seventh graders (22,601) in these schools reported that:
    • they earned higher grades
    • school was more relevant for them
    • they had positive relationships with teachers
    • they were more satisfied with their education
    • they felt safer in school

Lapan, R.T., Gysbers, N.C. & Petroski, G. (2001). Helping seventh graders be safe and academically successful: A statewide study of the impact of comprehensive guidance programs. Journal of Counseling & Development, 79, 320-330. 

When school counselors in Missouri work in schools that have more fully implemented school counseling programs, they make significant contributions to overall student success including student academic achievement.
    • Students had higher 10th-grade MAP mathematics scores.
    • Students had higher 11th-grade MAP communication arts scores.
    • More students are likely to attend school.
    • Fewer students have discipline problems.
    • Fewer students receive out-of-school suspensions. 

Lapan, R.T., Gysbers, N.C. & Kayson, M. (2006). The relationship between the implementation of the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Program and student academic achievement. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri.

The Keys to Effective Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

The keys to the development and implementation of effective comprehensive school counseling programs in Missouri include:
    • a written district-wide K-12 counseling program and a district-wide policy for counseling that has been adopted by the board of education
    • a written district-wide counseling program that is fully-implemented by certified, school counselors K-12 spending 100 percent of their time working with students, parents, teachers,  and administrators carrying out the preferred tasks of the program
    • strong state counseling leadership that provides regular ongoing training, resources, and technical support
    • a strong state-wide professional association like the Missouri School Counselor Association

Materials for Developing and Implementing Programs

The above information provides a brief overview of what comprehensive school counseling programs are and why they are needed. Materials to help schools fully plan, design, implement, evaluate, and enhance these programs have been developed by school counselors, counselor educators, and DESE staff and are available on this website.

If you have questions or need further information about the Missouri Comprehensive School Counseling Program, contact:

M. Rene’ Yoesel, LPC EdD​, Director
School Counseling
Office of College and Career Readiness
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education