Dr. Stacy Van Horn is currently a full-time faculty member and School Counseling Coordinator at the University of Central Florida in the Counselor Education and School Psychology Program within the Department of Child, Family and Community Sciences. She teaches graduate students at both the masters and doctoral level primarily in the areas of career development, counseling with children and adolescents, ethical and legal issues in professional school counseling, and coordination of comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs. She also supervises practicum students in the Community Counseling and Research Clinic (CCRC) on campus and school counseling interns throughout Central Florida schools. Prior to her position as a Counselor Educator, Dr. Van Horn worked as a professional school counselor for over nine years in Orange County Public Schools working with diverse students, teachers, and families in Central Florida. Dr. Van Horn has experience in creating and coordinating comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs at both the elementary and middle school level. In addition, she has experience collaborating with exceptional education school personnel on developing strategies and counseling approaches for exceptional education students. Her current research interests include training and supervision of professional school counselors, counseling interventions with diverse children and adolescents, and the role of professional school counselors in providing effective career development in schools. Dr. Van Horn has presented at national, regional, state, and local counseling conferences, including American Counseling Association, Association for Specialists
Prior to her position as a Counselor Educator, Dr. Van Horn worked as a professional school counselor for over nine years in Orange County Public Schools working with diverse students, teachers, and families in Central Florida. Dr. Van Horn has experience in creating and coordinating comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs at both the elementary and middle school level. In addition, she has experience collaborating with exceptional education school personnel on developing strategies and counseling approaches for exceptional education students. Her current research interests include training and supervision of professional school counselors, counseling interventions with diverse children and adolescents, and the role of professional school counselors in providing effective career development in schools. Dr. Van Horn has presented at national, regional, state, and local counseling conferences, including American Counseling Association, Association for Specialists for Group Work, American School Counseling Association, the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Florida Counseling Association, the Florida School Counselor Association, and invited presenter at the Florida Association for Gifted Children.
School Counselors have a unique role within the school setting. A school counselor works as a vital part of a team and stakeholders.
•Primarily, School Counselors work within 3 primary domains: Academic Development, Career Development, and Social/Emotional Development.
◦ Elementary counselors may teach more classroom guidance lessons, identify students in need of more support in regards to specialized programs, connecting with parents through parent conferences, and more…
◦ Middle school counselors may facilitate more small groups, put greater focus on peer interaction, help students with communication skills, and engage in more career exploration with students.
◦ High school counselors tend to provide more 1 on 1 counseling, coordinate bigger school events and assemblies, conduct credit checks, advise students on credit requirements and class selection, prepare students for college with college readiness activities, coordinate / conduct testing, and focus on students’ transition into college. School counselors are so vital at every level!
•It’s really important for others to know the role of a School Counselor to maximize the benefits of this important role. This is sometimes a big challenge in the field as this is predefined. Students from University of Central Florida (UCF) are prepared to articulate the role to others.
•School counselors can interact with students in several ways to include, but not limited to one on one, small group, classroom guidance, assemblies, etc…
•Counseling provided by a school counselor is much different than therapy in a clinical setting. School counselors often experientially provide students with coping skills to help with managing anger, healthy friendships, solid study skills, mindfulness techniques, and much more.
•School Counselors often conduct career days, Red Ribbon Week activities, award assemblies, extra-curricular activities, etc…
•It’s helpful for School Counselors to observe students in different environments.
•It’s so important to be visible as a School Counselor to the parents, administrators… and most importantly the students.
•School counselors can also provide trainings to teachers. Dr. Van Horn polled teachers to see what areas they would like to learn more about. She remembers a training that she offered while she was in the role of a School Counselor on “How to Have a Strength-Based Meeting”. In this training, her team role played to take the learning to a deeper learning to an experiential level.
•School counselors often conduct several meetings throughout the years, IEP, 504s, behavior support, etc.
•It can be really helpful for school counselors to connect with child therapists in their area.
• Advantages of Being a School Counselor – School counselors have so much impact on students over weeks, over the school year, and over the course of several years. School counseling is a unique profession, as rarely are 2 days the same. It’s so helpful to work together as a team with all of the stakeholders such as parents, teachers, administrators, etc. Unlike therapists, a school counselor has the advantage of seeing the child throughout the day in a variety of settings. Often School Counselors are the first line of support to students. School Counselors may have request slips that the students can submit to request support that doesn’t require consent from parents, session fees, or many of the other limitations that may prevent a student from obtaining help when needed. Dr. Van Horn speaks of “Cluster Groups” within the school to discuss creative ideas, opportunities and such.
• Disadvantages of Being a School Counselor – Often school counselors are faced with limited time, limited resources, limited student connection time, lunch duty, etc. School counselors often wear many different hats: testing coordinator, scheduling, lunch duty personnel, car loop support, credit checks, child study meetings, and so much more. All of these roles can create confusion on the role of a school counselor and can take them away from services that utilizing their specialized skills to help students in the best way.
•Sometimes School Counselors face a lack of support.
•School Counselors benefit from placing a focus on how they can take care of their own personal emotional and physical wellness as they can be pulled in so many directions that can be emotionally draining. It’s important to establish boundaries to keep emotionally healthy.
•School counselors benefit from knowing great therapists in the community so that they have good referrals to provide to their students in need. Sometimes School Counselors co-present with therapists in their community to their parents and their staff, as well as to create trainings and workshops.
• Relationships between school counselors and child and family therapists in the community are so beneficial.
•When crises happen in schools, relationships within helpers in the communities can make such a huge difference.
•Dr. Van Horn talks about when she realized that she couldn’t have her “to do” list checked at the end of the day. She normalized the feeling of overwhelm with so many tasks in a limited amount of time.
•Play therapy techniques can be used by school counselors in a low-cost way that can be implemented in efficient ways.
•What does a “typical” day in the life of school counselor look like? School counselors really don’t have a “typical” day. Each day can look so different.
Learn More about Dr. Van Horn at UCF http://education.ucf.edu/faculty_detail.cfm?id=591
Association for School Counselors, ASCA https://www.schoolcounselor.org
Jackie’s Play Therapy Community www.playtherapycommunity.com
Jackie’s Private Practice www.counselinginbrevard.com
Jackie’s Consulting Support www.jackieflynnconsulting.com