Washington Framework for Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling

ESA-certified school counselors are educated to meet students’ needs by designing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive school counseling program. Professional school counselors are employed in elementary, middle/junior high and high schools; in district supervisory positions; and counselor education positions.


School counselors are caring and empathetic professionals who use their knowledge (e.g., interpersonal dynamics, conflict resolution, and facilitation techniques) to build trust and provide support for students, staff, and families.


School counselors as leaders are engaged in school improvement decision making and evaluation. They effectively consult and communicate to promote wellness, remove barriers, and implement interventions to meet the needs of students.


School counselors advocate for students’ needs and they work to ensure they are addressed. They support and promote every student’s right to flourish in school and life.


School counselors foster effective working relationships with students and their communities. They serve as a vital link, drawing upon the contributions and expertise of others who care about students.

Change Agent

School counselors work collaboratively to eliminate systemic barriers to academic and personal success. They use data to advocate for change and they promote safe, caring, and equitable learning environments for all students.

How do school counselors conceptualize their ‘role’?

The Education Trust (2002) through the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI) suggests five principles as a means for improving the work of school counselors across the country: leadership, advocacy, teaming/collaboration, assessment/use of data, and counseling. These principles offer both a means for improving the quality of comprehensive school counseling programs (ASCA, 2003) and guide the school counselor’s actions toward helping to eliminate the achievement gap between traditionally disadvantaged, marginalized students and white, non-minority students (House & Hayes, 2002).

In the strengths-based school counseling approach, the school counselor utilizes the five principles outlined by TSCI by engaging in direct services at the individual level and indirect services at the system level. Through direct services at the individual level, primarily through individual counseling, group counseling, and the guidance curriculum, school counselors seek to promote assets and protective factors as a means of helping students. At the system level, the school counselor uses advocacy, consultation, teaming/collaboration, and assessment/use of data to create systemic change.

ASCA School Counselor Role

ASCA Appropriate versus Inappropriate Activities for School Counselor Roles