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The Professional School Counselor, Emotional Intelligence & Leadership

Updated: Mar 29






More recently, leadership abilities as it relates to school counselors has become more notable and respected, especially in the wake of mental health related concerns. In reality, school counselors have always operated in the capacity of leaders; they have been called upon to design and implement responsive school counseling programs that have an intentional focus on student outcomes. While leadership is vastly important on both the micro and macro level and does include counselors contributions, other factors such as emotional intelligence have began to gain much needed traction. For instance, school counselors must be emotionally attuned to themselves and others to manage the complex nature of the people and settings they serve. Emotional intelligence generally refers to the ability to recognize, comprehend and manage oneself, and others (Kim & Kim 2017). The tenants of emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. It has also been stated that emotional intelligence is a predictor of counselor self-efficacy. Each of these must be highly visible in the counseling role, and are needed to meet the goals counselors are required to work toward.

In more recent findings, transformational leadership has been highlighted within the context of school counseling. In fact, when reviewing the ASCA (American School Counseling Association) national model, significant leadership components and tenants of emotional intelligence work concurrently to meet the needs of comprehensive counseling programs. So, when considering the role of the school counselor, and the intentional focus required to achieve success of comprehensive guidance, social-emotional, and mental health related programming, the emotional intelligence of school counselors is a cornerstone in the personal and programmatic success.


So, how do counselors consistently work to improve emotional intelligence for success? As much as counselors support others, there are some simple practices that can enhance emotional intelligence.


  1. Practice observing how you feel. Honor that, cater to it, and allow yourself the time to process.

  2. Don't forget to breathe. It truly opens many pathways.

  3. Identify your triggers.

  4. Check yourself, especially when you are under stress.

  5. Take the time to celebrate the positives and practice gratitude.

  6. Trust yourself. You have what is needed to make decisions and get the job done.

  7. Develop a schedule or a process that helps you maneuver through tasks.

  8. Be realistic. Offer yourself grace when addressing all tasks but especially challenging ones.

  9. Set goals, both long and short term. This will keep you motivated.

  10. Realize where ever you are in your personal and/or professional life is a journey.

Considering these components, where are you on your journey and what support do you need to further support your personal and professional goals? No matter where you are, remember, this process is a journey well worth every experience along the way.




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