Should I Trust My Child’s School Counselor to Diagnose Psychological Disorders?

School councilors are meant to guide, not diagnose. They are most likely educated on the subject of abnormal psychology (that which involves diagnostics), but this knowledge has no place in a primary or secondary school setting. If a school counselor suspects a behavioral or learning disorder, it is his or her duty to organize discussions with the student’s guardians or with a specialist in those areas. Counselors act as communicators and catalysts, not clinicians. Excellent interpersonal skills are what earn counselors their position; this and only this is sort of expertise you should expect from these professionals.

The distinction between counseling and psychology is the amount of education required to hold those titles. School councilors require a bachelors degree in education, liberal arts, OR psychology. Taking part in diagnostic measures requires a graduate degree in specific psychological areas or test assessment. Counseling is one application of psychology, but a counselor does not have to be a psychologist; on the converse, psychologists do not have to practice counseling. For the most part, psychologists research different methods of counseling and counselors practice those methods based on that research.

Should I Trust My Child's School Counselor to Diagnose Psychological Disorders?

The diagnostician holds a position of great responsibility that involves ethical guidelines. These guidelines apply especially for the evaluation of children. Children are very receptive to general therapy – a diagnosis and medical routine should only be considered in the case that counseling does not work. Most problems that children confront are environmental or behavioral in nature. A chemical imbalance does not usually arise until post-puberty.

Regarding adolescence, a wrong diagnosis could lead to the all-powerful “self-fulfilled prophecy” – a significant topic in social psychology: one takes on the role expected of him or her-further influencing others to expect that role and treat the person according to that expectation. Often times, adolescents feel an intense pressure to establish a unique identity (which is the crisis most dealt with during this developmental period) – they are very vulnerable to labels in that they will hold onto them for dear life if offered.

A good counselor knows that children and teens rarely benefit from knowing their “diagnosis.” School counselors can have an immense effect on a student’s level of motivation. Counselors are urged to inform students of positive techniques that can maximize their potential for educational success in the future. Unfortunately, diagnostics involves categorizing people for the sake of effective psychological treatment; School counselors need to focus on the individual, perhaps more so than any other professional in the realm of guidance and therapy.