Washington School Counselor Association

 

Question & Answer Arcives

Question 1:
Should/can school counselors be written into an IEP to provide individual counseling services? My understanding is my role is to provide crisis response and brief-solution focused therapy, and to refer families to outside agencies if more intensive counseling is required.
 
Response:
Thank you for contacting the ethics committee with your concerns.
In response to your questions “should/can school counselors be written into an IEP to provide individual counseling services, ” your understanding is correct according to the ASCA model.  In addition, “My understanding is my role is to provide crisis response and brief-solution focused therapy, and to refer families to outside agencies if more intensive counseling is required. Also correct.
 
From the ASCA National Standards:
A. RESPONSIBILITY TO STUDENTS
A.1. Supporting Student Development
School counselors:
b. Aim to provide counseling to students in a brief context and support students and families/guardians in obtaining outside services if the student needs long-term clinical counseling.
h. Provide effective, responsive interventions to address student needs.
B.2. Responsibilities to the School
School counselors:
c. Advocate for a school counseling program free of non-school-counseling assignments identified by “The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs” as inappropriate to the school counselor’s role.
 
A list of appropriate activities for school counselors is listed in the executive summary of the ASCA National Model: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/ASCA%20National%20Model%20Templates/ANMExecSumm.pdf
 
We hope this information answers your questions.
 
WSCA Ethics Committee
Louise Berman, Chair
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Response provided by Joni Sherman, Amy Wiskerchen, Lisa Lucas, June Hyun, Stephanie Robinson, Maggie Halela Mosholder, Cynthia Galloway, Erin Riordan, Louise Berman

 
Question 2:
Are school counselors obligated to notify parents right away with regard to high school girls who confide in school counselors that they’re pregnant but do not want their parents to know?
 
Dear Counselor,
There is no obligation to automatically notify a parent unless school policy says. As the student is in high school, she is old enough to seek her own medical care and unless there are concerns of self-harm, the student is not in danger.
 
Important considerations include:
  • the girl’s age in relationship to the age of consent in Washington state,
  • how she knows she is pregnant, has she seen a doctor,
  • how her relationship is with her parent(s) guardian,
  • does the counselor see “serious and foreseeable harm” in this case.
 
Notifying parents would be a breach of confidentiality, one most counselors refuse to cross.
 
Putting personal biases aside, the counselor role is to support the student and continue to build a trusting relationship, while helping the student think about her future. The student should be encouraged to involve a parent/close adult by helping her consider the many consequences of her choices from termination to financial responsibility in raising a child. Counselor should not be the person to place this call. This case is a good reminder regarding the importance of explanation of limitations of confidentiality.
 
Related discussions may include logistics of how the student plans to continue with her education, consider by whom and how the child will be supported, and where they will reside. The counselor can offer to facilitate the meeting between student and parent or allow them to discuss this personal matter in private, standing by to support the family and student including having resources on hand.
 
Legally, we could tell the parent since we do not have privileged communication, but ethically we should not unless we think the student could harm herself because of the pregnancy. Maintaining a good relationship with the student in order to support her in the uncertain days ahead suggest maintaining confidentiality is paramount.
 
WSCA Ethics Committee
Louise C. Berman, Chair
 
  • Attachments: 2016 ASCA Ethical Standards (see A.2. Confidentiality and
B.1. Responsibilities to Parents/Guardians
  • 2014 ACA Ethical Standards
 
Response provided by Joni Sherman, Amy Wiskerchen, Lisa Lucas, June Hyun, Stephanie Robinson, Maggie Halela Mosholder, Louise Berman
 
Question 3:
I would love to hear the committee's thoughts on - the use of drugs outside of school. For example, a student that shared with me he uses marijuana regularly outside of school and holds parties for his other friends to use as well. What should be done in this case with regards to parent notification? 
Thank you so much again. I had no idea that the ethics committee is so reachable and responsive and I'm grateful! 
 
Response:
Most of us felt this is more of a legal matter and not necessarily up to the counselor.
We would consider these questions for more info:
  • How old is the student?
  • Is it legal for the student to purchase weed?
  • Is he/she smoking in the parent//guardian home?
  • Are any underage students involved?
  • From one of our counselors: “We typically do not get involved in “out of school” issues unless the student’s behavior as a result of getting high is creating a problem at school. Even so, how would one prove that his state of mind is the source of the problem?
Another response is asking the student if his parents know. They may be ok with this. From one of our members: I hear stuff like this all the time from students.  My work-around is to say “I’d like to refer you to the prevention specialist.  Your parents will be notified, but I can tell them it’s because you know people who use and need to gain some education and refusal skills.”
  • My past experience: As always, I encourage student, depending on situation, school, home, anxiety levels etc.…  to work a bit with me to explore ramifications of ongoing, regular marijuana usage. If you are lucky enough to have a substance counselor who either works regularly at the school or comes in on contract, I have asked the student if I can invite them into the conversation. I have also used the school nurse depending upon their knowledge in the subject.
  • As we all are aware we are NOT about the SHAME/BLAME game, but, about the eye opening realities of ongoing usage, decision making and the connection to school success.
  • The fact that students talk to us about these and other very touchy subjects like sex etc. is so healthy, It should be used as an opportunity to spend some extra time and resources to dig a bit deeper into the “why” part…..
Hope this helps.
WSCA Ethics Committee