Working with a co-counselor can be such a wonderful part of our jobs. We have someone who understands our job's ups and downs, can brainstorm, and together we are better able to serve all students. That said, it's not automatically a smooth relationship. Check out these tips from three Confident Counselors to help you establish a great working relationship with your co-counselor.
Clear Boundaries and Expectations
Creating lasting relationships is the cornerstone of our jobs as school counselors. If there is more than one counselor at your school, it is important to create a good working relationship with your co-counselor(s). This is one of the best ways to make sure you are maximizing your services and benefiting all students.
At the start of the school year, my co-counselor and I would sit down together and create a clear, concise outline of our individual roles and responsibilities. We would divide our caseloads and make sure that we had all of the school needs covered in an equitable manner.
At that meeting, we also created expectations for each other as teammates. We came up with a way to let each other know if we were struggling or needed something more from the other. Having an open and honest relationship, as well as creating those boundaries and expectations from the beginning, minimized the opportunity for conflict and created a climate of mutual respect and understanding.
Be True Partners
What makes great partnerships work? Knowing each other well and appreciating the strengths of the other person. After working solo for all of my career, I started working with an amazing co-counselor. I realized that our styles, strategies, and knowledge were different but they were both valuable. Someone doesn't have to be me to be amazing at their job!
Great partnerships also rely on connection. Get to know each other as people and connect on a personal level. When it's time to have a tough conversation at work, that's easier to do when I know and respect you as a person.
When we are connected, we can communicate clearly. Be transparent about dividing work responsibilities and tasks. Nothing ever divides evenly so communicating well can help you to shift and pivot as needed.
As a school psychologist, I worked with a school counselor in my first position. We both had different responsibilities that were linked to our titles and training, but we were both charged with creating a multi-tiered system of supports for social, emotional, and behavioral skills.
We worked together to create a three tier framework for our K-5 school. This guided how we decided who would do what. Our responsibilities got broken down by our strengths, experience, and availability, rather than our specific titles.
It is important to meet regularly. We met weekly to review teacher referrals and also check in on program goals. We also carpooled together! Over time, we found a system that worked for both us and served our program well.
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