School Counseling

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Why School Counselors?

Students with access to school counselors and comprehensive school counseling programs are more likely to achieve academically and behaviorally; particularly students in high-poverty schools (Lapan, Gysbers, Bragg, & Pierce, 2012).

School counseling programs support the Standards of Learning by providing instruction, appraisal and advisement, and counseling to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to achieve academic success, college and career readiness, and social/emotional development. School counselors collaborate with parents, teachers, administrators and others to promote learning and help students establish and achieve their education, career, and personal goals. As vital members of the school leadership team, school counselors directly contribute to the creation of a safe, supportive, and inclusive school climate.

Comprehensive school counseling programs are driven by data, based on standards in academic, career, and social/emotional development, and promote and enhance the learning process of all students.  Professional school counselors are an integral part of the overall school mission and vision.

School counselors are trained to provide counseling services through eight different types of delivery methods:

  • Counseling Curriculum
  • Small Group Counseling
  • Individual Counseling
  • Crisis Response
  • Individual Student Planning
  • Consultation
  • Collaboration
  • Referral

Licensure & Training

School counselors in Virginia are required to have earned a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completed an approved school counselor preparation program that shall include both an internship and practicum experience. Please refer to the Virginia Licensure Regulations for School Counselors preK-12 for additional requirements.

Section 22.1-298.1. of the Code of Virginia requires that “every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license with an endorsement as a school counselor shall complete training in the recognition of mental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse.” Virginia School Counseling License Renewal Information has information on training options.

School Counselor Staff Time

The 2023 General Assembly approved Senate Bill 1043, which incorporates consistent statewide definitions and expectations for licensed professional school counselors for the provision of "direct counseling services" and "program planning and school support." This legislation further defines the role of the school counselor that was established through legislation from House Bill 1729 in the 2019 General Assembly, which amended requirements for the allocation of school counselor staff time.

§ 22.1-291.1:1. School counselors; staff time.

“Each school counselor employed by a school board in a public elementary or secondary school shall spend at least 80 percent of his staff time during normal school hours in the direct counseling of individual students or groups of students and may spend up to 20 percent of his staff time during normal school hours on program planning and school support.”

VDOE's Direct Counseling Services and Program Planning Document was developed to assist school divisions with their alignment efforts. 

Policies & Guidance

School Counselor Summative Performance Report: A Tool for Evaluating Professional School Counselors

The School Counselor Summative Performance Report (Word) is intended as a tool for administrators and directors to provide school counselors with an assessment of their professional performance.


Comprehensive School Counseling Programing and Advocacy

Academic Development and Advisement

Career Development


Professional Organizations

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