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ElemSped13 02-26-2017 12:32 PM

Moving from teaching to counseling questions
I have considered this for awhile now and would have gone directly to counseling if my state didn't require teaching experience first. I have taught some elementary gen and sped ed as well as middle school.

I feel that my strengths might be a better fit in counseling but not sure. My BA was Psych and I really like the mental health side of working with kids. I think they generally feel pretty comfortable with me and I've had some students confide in me about some situations, which I pass along to the counselors. I would like to be able to work more with those type of issues and am getting tired of the academic side.

Could you tell me some of the pros/cons of counseling? If you have done both, were you happy with the switch? Thanks in advance for any advice you could share!!!

eeza 02-26-2017 12:41 PM

pros/cons counseling
I am a school psych and not a counselor, but I do provide counseling to some students.

I'm sure you are aware of the pros: helping kids, forming a bond, seeing growth, etc.

The cons are: expecting to provide therapy rather than educationally-based counseling, pressure from parents to counsel kids when they don't need it which leads to reluctant students participating in sessions, and the amount of mental health issues that come up is staggering.

You will need to make sure you practice self-care because it can be emotionally draining. If you do more of an academic counselor type of thing where you are changing kids' schedules and helping them get into college, then the emotional side of things is less.

GraceKrispy 02-27-2017 05:06 PM

Welcome! I have worked as a classroom teacher, a counselor, and a school psych. All of the jobs had pros and cons, of course. In my counseling position, I worked at a pretty small k-12 school, so I did elementary class lessons, I was an AVID teacher for middle school (one class period, 4 days a week), and I did college/career prep classes for 9-12 (each grade got one weekly class). I also did some light administrative duties, conducted weekly groups for various issues, taught gifted "class" (really a weekly gifted enrichment time), handled crises, and conducted individual counseling for students with counseling on their IEPs. Oh, and I was the standardized test coordinator/trainer. I was very busy :D but I loved the variety of what I did. So I'll list my pros/cons compared to teaching based on that job description.

*Lots of variety
*Bathroom breaks are easier to take :D
*You really get the chance to know a child without needing something from them-- your relationship is less about your demands (as a teacher, we're always demanding something from them) and more about what the child needs
*If you have a really annoying kid, you don't have to spend the entire day with him/her ;)
*No state testing demands

*It's a very different type of satisfaction- I really missed having "my" (classroom) kids to myself.
*You are often low on the totem pole in terms of schedules getting switched up on you or kids missing appointments because of priority classroom issues.
*You get very different type of pressure from parents-- in my case, it was actually parents NOT wanting their kids to see a counselor, or worried about what you're doing
*You get all the CPS cases in the school (at least I did)
*Risk of suicide comes to you as well
*It can get very intense with emotional issues, home situations, sexual abuse/date rape, etc.
*Some teachers can see you as a lower life form (although, oddly enough, when I moved from teaching to counseling in the same school, several teachers thought I had gotten a "promotion")

In general, I would say there really aren't "pros" and "cons," per se. I did put them that way, but really it's just a different way of working with kids. I was happy with the switch, but I did really miss the classroom. With the experience you describe, it seems you will likely be a good fit. I second eeza's suggestion to do some self-care. Be sure to build that in. It can be overwhelming sometimes, so it's important to take care of yourself.

Keep posting about your progress here! We're a slow board, but several of us check in regularly :)

ElemSped13 10-21-2017 05:41 PM

Omg, thank you so much and I really apologize for the extremely delayed thank you for the replies. I remember reading these but couldn't reply at the time. Then I never came back to say thanks!

Still contemplating the change and appreciate the advice. The intensity of the needs of our students makes me nervous because it's hard to deal with now.

Sophianna 10-03-2018 06:33 AM

Teacher First
Good morning. I am now a school counselor and was a teacher for 14 years in an urban setting. I was passionately in love with teaching, so it was hard for me to make the switch. Now I'm in a different city with a different vibe, and here are my thoughts regarding counseling v. teaching:

I get a lot of work dumped on me now that I feel is not my job. But I have a huge desire to help students and end up taking on things that I shouldn't. This isn't a lot different than what I did as a teacher, but it is more intense. We have a behavior person and she is always passing off kids to me b/c she doesn't know how to do her own job. A kid gets put out - they become mine. Teachers have an angry parent - they become mine. I do not like that part at all, but I think it is all about advocacy. Apparently I stand up for myself and my job a lot more than the last person. So you have to be willing to take some crap assignments but also stand up and say ENOUGH when it truly is. I also love being able to use the restroom when I want! :)

I also miss the classroom, but I think for me that comes with the fact that I loved teaching, I was good at it, and I knew just what to do most of the time. I think that will come with counseling, but right now it feels like I'm always scrambling to figure things out.

Good luck to you, either way!

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