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Roles and Functions of Counselors

According to Gibson and Mitchell (2003) a helping profession is composed of members “who are especially trained and licensed to perform a unique and
service for fellow human beings”.

Roles / Functions Description

Individual Assessment Seeks to identify the characteristics and potential of every client;
promotes the client’s self-understanding and assisting counselors to
understand the client better
Individual Counseling Considers as the core activity through which other activities become
meaningful. It is a client –centered process that demand
confidentiality. Relationship is established between counselor and
Group Counseling and Guidance Groups are means of providing organized and planned assistance to
individuals for an array of needs. Counselor provides assistance
through group counseling and group guidance.
Career Assistance Counselors are called on to provide career planning and adjustment
assistance to clients.
Placements and Follow -Up A service of school counseling programs with emphasis on
educational placements in course and programs.
Referral It is the practice of helping the clients find needed expert assistance
that the referring counselor cannot provide.
Consultation It is the process of helping a client through a third party or helping
system improve its service to its clientele.
Research It is necessary to advance the profession of counseling; it can
provide empirically based data relevant to the ultimate goal of
implementing effective counseling.
Evaluation and Accountability Evaluation is a means of assessing the effectiveness of counselor’s
Accountability is an outgrowth of demand that schools and other tax-
supported institutions be held accountable for their actions.
Prevention This includes promotion of mental health through primary prevention
using a social – psychological perspective.
Competencies of Counselors
Seven distinct competence areas of counselors. There might be other areas, but we will focus on the input of McLeod (2003).
1. Interpersonal Skills –counselors who are competent display ability to listen, communicate; empathize; be present ; aware of nonverbal communication; sensitive
to voice quality , responsive to expressions of emotion, turn taking, structure of time and use of language .
2. Personal beliefs and Attitude- counselors have the capacity to accept others, belief in potential of change, awareness of ethical and moral choices and sensitive
to values held by client and self.
3. Conceptual ability – counselors have the ability to understand and assess client’s problem; to anticipate future problems; make sense of immediate process in
terms of wider conceptual scheme to remember information about the client.
4. Personal Soundness – counselors must have no irrational beliefs that are destructive to counseling relationships, self-confidence, capacity to tolerate strong of
uncomfortable feelings in relation to the clients, secure personal boundaries, ability to be a client ; must carry no social prejudice, ethnocentrism and
5. Mastery of Techniques – counselors must have a knowledge of when and how to carry out specific interventions, ability to assess effectiveness of the
interventions, understanding the rationale behind techniques, possession of wide repertoire of intervention
6. Ability to understand and work within social system – this would be compromise of awareness of family and work relationships of client the impact of agency on
the clients, the capacity to use support networks and supervision ; sensitivity to client from different gender, ethnicity , sexual orientation, or age group.
7. Openness to learning and inquiry – counselors must have the capacity to be curious about client’s backgrounds and problems; being open to new knowledge
Career Opportunities and Areas of Specialization of Counselors
1. Marriage and Family Counseling – refers to the efforts to establish an encouraging relationship with couple or family and appreciate the complications in the
family system.
2. Child and Adolescent Counseling – is a developing area of expertise in counseling profession. The counseling strategies focus on helping children and
adolescents acquire coping skills through promotion of resiliency, positive attachment relationship, emotional and intellectual intelligence, and other qualities that
promote optional development.
3. Group Counseling – is the dynamic field in the counseling profession. Group counseling as a practice can be located in most counseling programs and
became the essential part of counselor’s system. Group counseling offers the following : opportunities to members to learn from observing other group members ;
can functions as helpers and helps ; opportunities to discover that you others have similar concerns ; members are encouraged to offer help to others
;opportunities to enhance interpersonal skills; the therapeutic climate created similar as the client’s family origin.
4. Career Counseling –is an evolving and challenging counseling field. This type of counseling aids individual on decisions and planning concerning their career.
The counseling approach includes integrating theory and practice. Adopted Savickas ( 1996 )as cited Nystul ( 20003 ) adopted the model of Wagner ( 1971) on
structural analysis of personality to the realm of vocational psychology. The model consist of vocational career services, occupational placement , vocational
guidance , career counseling , career education , career therapy, and position coaching.
5. School Counseling- refers to the process of reaching out students with concerns on drugs, family and peers or gang involvement. The job requires sensitivity
to individual differences and considers diversity in enhancing educational perspective. The job requires skills on consultation, counseling’s exceptional students
and with the ability to handle problems such as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, divorced or single parents, dropping out of school.
6. Mental Health Counseling - is manifested in the challenges posed by its clientele with mental disorders. Mental disorders include serious depression,
schizophrenia, and substance abuse. Mental health counselors have to be inventive, and creative to address these problems. The job requires patience, humility,
kindness and compassion.
Rights and Responsibilities, and Accountabilities of Counselors
Code of ethics help counselors to remind them of their rights, responsibilities and accountabilities in the counseling profession. The rights, responsibilities and
accountabilities of the counselors are based on the counselors associations of Code of Conduct.
The code of ethics of the counselors is divided into seven sections, namely , (a) counseling relationship, (b) confidentiality (c) professional responsibility (d)
relationships with other professionals , (e) evaluation, assessment, and interpretation, (f) teaching ,training and supervision (g) research and publication.( Gladding
, 2000 ). We shall only presenting in details three of the seven areas, namely, counseling relationships, confidentiality, and professional responsibility. The
following three tables below provide a sample code of ethics of the American Counseling Association.

Areas Description
The Counseling Relationships
1. Client welfare Counselor’s primary responsibility is to respect the dignity and
promote the welfare of clients. They are also expected to encourage
client’s growth. Counselors and clients are expected to work together
in crafting individual counseling plans consistent with the client’s
2. Respecting Diversity Counselors do not engage in discrimination based on age, color,
culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual
orientation, marital status and socio economic status. Counselors
shall respect differences and understand the diverse cultural
backgrounds of their clients.
3. Client Rights Counselors shall disclose the purposes, goals, techniques,
procedures, limitations, potential risks, benefits of the services to be
performed and other pertinent information to the client throughout the
counseling process. Counselors offer clients the freedom to choose
whether to enter into a counseling relationship and determine which
professional will provide counseling, except when the client is unable
to give consent.
4. Clients Served by others In cases where the client is receiving services from another mental
health professional, with clients consent, inform the professional
person already involved to develop an agreement.
5. Personal Needs and values Maintain the clients and avoid actions that seek to meet their
personal needs at the expense of the clients. Counselors shall be
aware of their values, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior and how these
apply in a diverse society and avoid imposing their values on clients.
6. Dual Relationships Counselors are aware of their influential position over their clients
avoid the exploiting the trust and dependency of the clients.
Counselors should not accept as superiors or subordinates clients’.
7. Sexual Intimacies with Clients Counselors should not have any type of sexual intimacies with clients
and do not counsel persons with whom they have sexual
relationship. Counselors should not also engage with sexual
intimacies with their former clients within a minimum of two years.
8. Multiple Clients In cases where counselors agree to provide counseling services to
two or more persons who have a relationship, counselors clarify at
the outset which person or persons are clients and the nature of
relationship they will have with each other involved person.
9. Group Work Counselors screen prospective group counseling / therapy
participants to determine those with compatible needs. In group
setting, counselors take reasonable precautions to protect clients
from physical or psychological trauma.
10. Fees Prior to entering the counseling relationship, the counselors clearly
explain the clients all financial arrangements related to professional
Source: Gladding, 2000

1.Right to Privacy ➢ Counselors respect a client’s right to privacy and avoid illegal
and unwarranted disclosures of unwarranted information.
➢ The right to privacy may be waived by the clients or their
legally recognized representative.
➢ The general requirement that the counselors keep the
information confidential does not apply when disclosure is
required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or
others or when legal requirements demand that confidential
information is be revealed.
➢ Counselors who received information confirming that a client
has a disease known to be communicable and fatal is justified
in disclosing information to an identifiable third party, who by
his/her relationship with the client is at high risk of contracting
the disease.
➢ When court orders the counselors to release confidential
information without client’s permit, counselors request to the
court that the disclosure should not be required due to
potential harm to client or counseling relationship.
2. Group and Families ➢ In group work, counselors clearly define confidentiality and
parameters for the specific group being entered, explain its
importance, and discuss difficulties related to confidentiality
involved in group work.
➢ In family counseling, information about one family cannot be
disclosed to another member without permission.
3. Minor Incompetent client ➢ When counseling clients who are minors or individuals who
are unable to give voluntary, informed consent, parents or
guardians may be included in the counseling process as
4. Records ➢ Counselors maintain necessary records for rendering
professional services to their clients and as required by laws,
regulations, or agency or institution procedures.
➢ Counselors are responsible for securing safety and
confidentiality of any counseling record they create, maintain,
transfer, or destroy whether the records are written, taped,
computerized, or stored in any other medium.
➢ Counselors recognized that counseling records are kept for
the benefits of the clients therefore provide access to record
and copies of record when requested by competent clients
unless it contains information that may be misleading or
detrimental to the clients.
➢ Counselors obtain written permission from clients to disclose
or transfer records to legitimate third parties unless exception
to confidentiality exists.
5. Research and Training ➢ Use of data derived from counseling relationships for
purposes of training ,research , or publication is confined to
content that is disguised to ensure the anonymity of the
individuals involved. Identification of the client involved is
permissible only when the client has reviewed the material
and has agreed to its presentation or publication.
6. Consultation ➢ Information obtained in consulting relationship is discussed
for professional purposes only with persons clearly concerned
with the case. Before sharing information, counselors make
efforts to ensure that there defined policies that effectively
protect the confidentiality of information with other agencies
serving the counselors clients.
Source: Gladding, 2000

Areas Description
Professional Responsibility
1. Standards Knowledge ➢ Counselors have a responsibility to read, understand, and
follow the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
2. Professional Competence ➢ Counselors practice only within the boundaries of their
competence based on their education, training, supervised
experience, state and national professional credentials and
appropriate professional experience. Counselors will
demonstrate a commitment to gain knowledge, personal
awareness, sensitivity, and skills pertinent to working with
diverse client population.
➢ Counselors practice specialty areas new with to them only
after appropriate education, training, and supervised
experience. While developing skills in new specialty area,
counselors take step to ensure the competence of their work
and to protect other from possible harm.
➢ Counselors accept employment only for positions which they
are qualified by education, training, supervise experience,
state and national professional credentials, and appropriate
professional experience.
➢ Counselors continually monitor their effectiveness as
professionals and take steps to improve their skills and
➢ Counselors refrain from offering or accepting professional
services when their physical, mental, or emotional problems
are like to harm clients or others.