BC Counsellor - Winter 2014 - (Page 4)
In a recent conversation, I used the term "school counselling professionals" to describe
my own team of colleagues. A discussion ensued about whether we school counsellors
constitute a unique profession. It got me to wondering.
To be clear: We school counsellors are all professionals. We are well-educated teachers, counsellors, or psychologists of some kind; all of us merit the term "professional."
But can we school counsellors claim to constitute a professional entity separate from
other types of counsellors? Let's look at some commonly accepted traits of professional
classes and see if we, as a group, would fit the bill.
Long period of education. We have this criterion aced. Some of us have more
degrees than a thermometer.
Theory-based skills. With masters-level education in psychology and related fields
as the current norm, we generally shape up well in this regard, too.
Testing of competence. We passed all those exams, survived those clinics and
practica, and fulfilled the registration and hiring criteria.
Code of ethics. Many of us subscribe to more than one. To start with, in this
province there's the BCSCA code. Some of us also heed the ethical codes of various
associations of counsellors, psychologists, and other professionals. Sometimes these
codes conflict with each other and ethical dilemmas ensue. But better to subscribe to
two codes rather than none.
Inaccessible body of knowledge. We often run into people who think they know
all about our job because their ex-sister-in-law was a school counsellor, or they'd had
a session or two at school when they were kids. Little do they know that our three
E's-education, experience, expertise-make a potent cocktail of knowledge that is not
available to outsiders.
Legitimacy. We exert clear authority over many of our activities, and we make valuable contributions to situations where authority is shared-with teachers, administrators
and social workers, for instance.
Professional association. The BCSCA stands on guard for us, and we for it.
Mobility. As our skills and moral authority reside in us rather than in our schools
and employers, we can take our act elsewhere, subject only to licensing rules in various
other parts of the country and world.
Public service and altruism. Seriously, can anyone beat us at that?
So far, so good. Let us continue.
High status and rewards. These vary, depending on our working environment,
personal relationships with colleagues, career stage, and others' esteem for us. Being
a modest bunch of people overall, we tend to measure our success by job fulfillment
and achievement rather than by status and monetary reward. That's a good thing, as
high recompense and prestige are hard to come by in our profession.
Self-regulation. We strike out in this at-bat, as we have no regulatory body to call
Work autonomy. Our degree of autonomy depends largely on factors external to
us: our supervisors, district expectations, and so on. We must keep advocating for the
freedom to do what needs doing.
So, do we make the grade as a distinct profession? In my view, we can make a good
argument. In any case, musing about the question can inspire us to keep building our
own brand of professionalism.
We are welleducated teachers,
some kind; all of
us merit the term
But can we school
to constitute a
other types of
BC Counsellor | Winter 2013-14 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Winter 2014
The Fine Print
Social Media 101
Embracing Social Media in Guidance and Career Education
Top 10 iPad Counselor Apps
BCSCA Conference 2013 — Full Coverage!
Index to Advertisers
BC Counsellor - Winter 2014