If the past 18 months have shown us anything, it’s the importance of having the right support systems in place. And when you look at the field of education and academia, it’s become clear just how vital counselors and therapists are to the emotional health, growth, and development of today’s students and young adults.
School Counselors: More Important Than Ever
The term “school counselor” is a little understated. Today, they play a pivotal role in a school’s infrastructure and social fabric. They add value in dozens of different areas. You could say they’re more important than they’ve ever been.
The modern school counselor plays roles like social educator, emotional coach, academic advisor, mental health therapist, conflict mediator, wellness coach, and family liaison. They’re the go-between for teachers, administrators, students, parents, and even the community as a whole. And since the start of the pandemic, the importance of these roles has only increased.
“Because safeguarding the mental, emotional and physical welfare of students is the essence of what school counselors do, these professionals have typically been at the center of the problem-solving process since the arrival of the coronavirus,” Laurie Meyers writes for Counseling Today.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, counselors have led the charge in the adoption of technology. They’ve tried new things, innovated, and pivoted in order to leverage technology in a way that adds maximum value to students, while also allowing them to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
And while most schools are attempting returns to in-person schooling, we’ll never fully return to the pre-pandemic way of life (this year, next year, or any year). In some sense, there will always be elements like distance-based learning and/or intensified mental health challenges as it relates to stress and anxiety.
For better or worse, the pandemic has paved the way for a new type of counselor – one who is armed with high-tech tools that empower them to reach students with the right counseling services at the right time, regardless of location.
3 Ways School Counselors are Leveraging Tech
In order to understand this shift within the world of school counseling, it’s helpful to study some of the specific ways in which technology plays a role. Here’s an abbreviated look at a few examples:
1. Video Recording for Counseling Training
The use of technology starts with the actual training and education of school counselors themselves. And if there’s one technology leading the way, it’s video capture software for counseling training.
While many outdated video platforms saturate the market, advanced solutions like the VALT system from Intelligent Video Solutions provide affordable, user-friendly options that can be used for treatment session recording in a variety of settings.
The VALT software fully integrates with all of the latest IP camera technology to provide real-time and recorded analysis. Instructors can observe and talk back to any room using live feedback, while the back end of the software has a searchable database and all of the latest security and compliance features to ensure all required standards are met.
One of the more valuable features of the VALT software is recording at remote counseling clinics and leveraging the IVS Beam application to capture sessions using an iPad. This increases flexibility and allows counselors to safely meet with students in a variety of settings.
In addition to its use with school counselors, the IVS VALT solution has become the gold standard for numerous counseling clinics, including those in niches like marriage and family therapy, addiction and substance abuse, domestic violence, child anxiety, depression, child abuse, etc.
2. Virtual Office Hours
When schools shut down in 2020, many students lost direct access to school counselors. It was no longer possible for counselors to just check in (or for students to drop by when they needed help). In response, school systems and counselors leveraged platforms like Zoom to provide virtual office hours where they could advise students and parents on topics like emotional health, conflict resolution, and academic performance.
Many counselors have also found it helpful to host group counseling sessions where they bring small groups of students or parents together to discuss issues in a collaborative setting.
When in-person gathering isn’t possible, this enables counselors to encourage social connections and camaraderie (while also providing support in key areas of need).
3. Online Resources and Learning
Many school systems are placing an increased focus on developing online resources that help counselors provide their students with the information and education needed to make informed decisions about their mental health, personal skills, college planning, and career opportunities.
The Arizona Department of Education is a great example of this. They’ve been leading the charge for several years and have set the standard for what it looks like to provide students with practical online resources.
“Together, Arizona business, industry, and educational leaders defined skills needed in our state’s workplace,” says Amanda Nolasco, a school counselor specialist in the district. “To support educators in exposing students to these skills, our department has compiled a list of Professional Skills standards, rubrics, and resources.”
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is another voice leading the charge. Their Career Conversation Starters guide is a free, research-backed online resource that gives teachers, students, and parents valuable tools for success.
This is just another example of how counselors and counseling departments are leveraging the available tech infrastructure to provide maximum support to students in need.
VALT for Counselor Training
If you’re interested in learning more about how video recording solutions like VALT can help improve counseling training and better equip today’s aspiring counselors to become tomorrow’s leaders, we would love to chat.
As always, feel free to contact Intelligent Video Solutions using one of our convenient support options. We would also love to meet you face-to-face at the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) Conference, which is happening October 5-11, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Request a demo and feel free to visit our virtual booth!