News and resources for Arizona's school counselors

People Like YOU! - Message from AzSCA Chair

The Power of Vulnerability and Human Connection - Message from the Executive Director

The Power of A Word: Some Words Are Not Interchangeable

2021 School Counselors Institute

School Counselor Connection

Expanding Support Beyond the Virtual Classroom

Letter from the Chair

People Like YOU!

by Sarah Skemp
School Counselor, Lake Havasu High School
Chair, Arizona School Counselors Association

Thank you, school counselors, for being amazing and versatile. When Governor Ducey ordered schools to open without much notice, schools rushed to open fully. For many schools, this did not allow the time to be most effective with the students' transition back to a campus. School counselors stepped up to ensure the needs of their students (and families) were met for that transition. For the school counselors who have been in person from the start (or near) of the school year, you have remained steadfast in your ability to provide services to your students. The world (especially our schools) needs more people like school counselors!!

AzSCA realizes this and continues to advocate for our profession by reaching out to stakeholders regarding our 3 Rs: Ratio, Respect, and Role. AzSCA has collaborated with our legal consultant, Creosote Partners, to work on our goal of having consistency across the state regarding counselors receiving 301 money. Governor Ducey signed into law Bill 1139 (classroom funds). School counselors will no longer exist in a grey area as will be fully recognized as the educators they are, thus eligible for 301 dollars. AzSCA is drafting a document for school counselors to share with administrators and directors explaining how this law impacts school counselors’ eligibility regarding 301.

AzSCA continues to advocate for funding in the hiring of school counselors. We (and other organizations) have partnered with Expect More Arizona to encourage stakeholders to utilize ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) for the following:
  • Provide additional pay to school counselors whose students are now in greater need of academic and social and emotional support due to the pandemic. Use funds to recruit new and retain existing counselors that have an Arizona School Counselor certificate.
  • Supplement school counselors with curriculum, materials, professional development to support students' academic and social and emotional needs, especially the mental health issues that have risen due to the pandemic.
Again, the world (especially our schools) needs more people like school counselors!

AzSCA also needs more people like you to be part of our association….become a member, a voice on the Board or one who connects with AzSCA Board members with ideas/concerns. I invite you to join the AzSCA Board at our next virtual meeting: the morning of Saturday, April 24th. If you are interested in joining this meeting please reach out to our Executive Director, Cien Luke, at

Continue to be the one the world needs!

Executive Director's Message

The Power of Vulnerability and Human Connection

by Cien Luke
Executive Director, Arizona School Counselors Association

I came across a fabulous TEDx Houston talk by Brene’ Brown recently that is very timely.  She studied the power of vulnerability and human connection for over a decade and found a direct correlation between the two.  Connection is the purpose of the human existence and gives meaning to our lives.  But, in her decade of research, conducting interviews and reviewing thousands of pieces of qualitative data, Brene’ found that there is one big roadblock to achieving this connection.  It is an inability to allow oneself to be truly vulnerable.  In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen – really seen.  If we can’t bare ourselves to those around us, achieving connection becomes impossible.
Brene’s research showed that people who live “whole heartedly” and allow themselves to live vulnerably also have a strong sense of worthiness, of belonging, and of love.  Those who struggle with their vulnerability also struggle with their sense of worthiness.  They are always wondering if they are good enough.  In the end, there is only one factor that separates the two groups of people.  “People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.”  Ironically, the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we are not worthy of connection (Brene Brown, 7:00).
“What are we doing with vulnerability?”  According to Brene’, we have a tendency to fall into habits that are unproductive and harmful.  We find ways to numb our vulnerabilities.  We try to make the uncertain, certain.  We perfect ourselves and those around us, especially children.  We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on other people.  Instead of running from it, we need to remember that we are hardwired and built for the struggle, and we need to embrace vulnerability and use it to connect.
Brene’ suggest better ways of handling our feelings of vulnerability.  Allow ourselves to be truly seen.  Love with our whole hearts, even if there is no guarantee.  Practice gratitude and “lean into the joy.”  Feelings associated with vulnerability are the emotions that make us know we are alive.  Finally, believe we are enough, because we are enough.  Once we know this, we will stop screaming and start listening, and be kinder and gentler to the people around us, and to ourselves.
As we start to enter the post-COVID world, I hope this talk by Brene’ Brown helps us navigate the multitude of uncomfortable conversations that we will have.  Always remember that “you are imperfect, but you are wired for struggle, and worthy of love and belonging” (Brene’ Brown).
Brown, B. [TEDx Houston].  (2011, January 3). The power of vulnerability [Video].  YouTube.

The Power of A Word: Some Words Are Not Interchangeable

by Darrian Corey
School Counseling Intern
Mountain View High School

I feel very fortunate to have had the great pleasure of attending my first Evidence-Based
School Counseling Conference this past week. Even while being held via Zoom, I came away with a wealth of new information, a new excitement for this field, and an overall feeling of confidence in my professional identity as a soon-to-be future school counselor. I learned something new to take with me from each of the presenters, though perhaps the one that stuck with me the most was a research study presentation by doctoral students Emily Baker and Meghan Breedlove, and Dr. Brett Zyromski of Ohio State University entitled, “Guidance Counselors or School Counselors: How the Name of the Profession Influences Perceptions.” In fact, the results of their study made such a lasting impression on me that it still has me thinking about the topic and inspired me to create a presentation based on their research to present to my classmates in my internship class. Given that this is an issue that affects all school counselors at all levels, I thought that it would only be appropriate that I share my thoughts with my fellow members of the Arizona School Counselors Association as well.

I am confident that we can all agree that being referred to as “guidance” rather than a “professional school counselor” can be frustrating to say the least. It does not cover the whole scope of our practice. Yes, we do provide classroom guidance lessons. Yes, we are there to provide college and career guidance to students, but guidance is not all that we do or all that we are. As Baker, Zyromski, and Breedlove pointed out in their presentation using a graphic from Triplett (2016) to illustrate their point, the term “guidance counselor” seems to imply serving some students, a reactive style of counseling, and a more loosely defined role. On the other hand, the term “school counselor” implies serving ALL students, providing more proactive counseling, and having a clearly defined role as a leader within a school. While ASCA released an official statement changing the title “Guidance Counselor” to “School Counselor” over 30 years ago now, confusion still persists today in regards to what our roles are as professional school counselors.

Thinking back to high school, it was essentially a regular occurrence to hear a student’s name over the intercom being called to the “guidance office.” I know if I were to be able to go back in time and correct my 17-year-old self when using the term “guidance counselor,” I would have asked, “What is the difference?” But there are certainly significant differences, even if they often get overlooked or misunderstood. As Baker, Zyromski, and Breedlove’s recent study on this suggests, just that one word “guidance” in reference to a professional school counselor has significant impacts on the lives of school counselors, and subsequently, schools as a whole. In their study, 2 samples were surveyed: One consisting of school counselors and one of the general public. The survey measured how the guidance counselor vs. school counselor title impacted their perception of one’s competence level in completing 25 core school counseling tasks. The results of the study suggested that those with the “guidance counselor” title were perceived as being less competent than those with the “school counselor” title, and this was found to be true regardless of the interaction with the school counselor or their years of experience. Previous research has found that role confusion can contribute to negative affect in the work environment, decreased job satisfaction, and subsequent burnout for professional school counselors, then add to this a diminished level of perceived competence and/or personal feelings of competence as a result (Gabriel et al., 2011; Haines & Sabe, 2012; Rayle, 2006). With these findings in mind, you can see that what many may view as a simple interchangeable world, is actually a word that can have lasting implications on students, parents, staff, the school as a whole, and especially the school counselors. It can damage the general public’s and school stakeholder’s view of the profession, affecting their perception of the counselor’s competency, responsibilities, and skill set. This presentation really got me thinking, “Why is this still an issue today? What is contributing to this perception and how can we begin to change it?” A couple of things that came to mind for me were a general lack of consistency across state lines in how each state conceptualizes and/or addresses this issue, and portrayal of the profession in the general media. In visiting my high school’s website, it is still referred to as the “guidance office” and “guidance counselors” today, suggesting that even if this is a topic well-known enough to be discussed at a national professional development conference, there still appears to be a lack of consistency across states, likely stemming from differing levels of awareness and education surrounding the topic.

In addition to this, now more than ever, the media and how the media portrays things can have a profound effect and greatly influence the behavior of others. Let’s take for example the popular television series, “Awkward,” which aired on MTV for five fears from 2011-2016. The show is centered around a high school student named Jenna Hamilton, who is navigating the often confusing and disorienting world of high school and everything that comes along with it, while narrating the show through her documentation of her adventures on her own blog website. Ms. Valerie “Val” Marks, the high school counselor in this show, is referred to as the “guidance counselor” of the high school throughout the series. Even in a quick internet search, Google will tell you that this fictional character is a guidance counselor. In the show, Val is portrayed as fairly goofy, extremely laid back, and frequently crossing boundaries. For example, showing up at a student’s house after school hours to make friends and drink wine with a student’s parent, crossing the line from “counselor” to “best friend” with students, making inappropriate remarks about students or student events, and even spending the night at the school with her cats for an extended period of time at one point in the series. Referring back again to my 17-year-old self, while watching the show, I would often have thoughts such as, “Wait, is this really what school counselors actually do?” Though this may be just one silly example, I think that it does illustrate how the portrayal of school counselors and their title in the media can have the power to influence the general public’s perception of competency, role, and legitimacy of the school
counseling profession.

To end their presentation, Baker, Breedlove, and Dr. Zyromski had us break out into groups (or on Zoom, “breakout rooms”) to discuss our ideas on what we as school counselors can do to try to address this issue. So, I encourage you and your counseling teams to consider the same question. What can you do? Take a look around your own school and/or school district, and take notice of how they refer to school counselors and their role within the school. As pointed out during the presentation, even something as seemingly simple as changing your email signature to say “School Counselor” can make a significant difference. With the tenacity that we as school counselors advocate for students and other social injustices, I have no doubt that we can also be successful in advocating for ourselves, our roles, and the appropriate title. “Guidance counselor” and “school counselor” are not interchangeable. There are differences, and they do matter.

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Share your school counseling experiences, tips and tricks, photos, and other valuable resources by submitting them to our newsletter! Our newsletter is published monthly. The deadline to submit is the 25th of the month for publication in the next month's newsletter. Click the link below to submit your article today!
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2021 School Counselors' Institute

The School Counselors' Institute is a VIRTUAL two-day training specifically designed to meet the needs of school counselors in implementing a comprehensive school counseling program.  We are very excited to bring the expertise of Trish Hatch and her team from Hatching Results to lead school counselors in this interactive and engaging professional development opportunity. School counselors will leave with the tools they need to promote and support the development and implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program that is data-driven to meet the needs of all students.  Topics will include:  MTMDSS, Tier 1 implementation, Tier 2 implementation, data, college and career readiness, mental health, equity, and sharing data with stakeholders.

For questions regarding the 2021 School Counselors' Institute, please reach out to Amanda Nolasco via email at
Register Now!

School Counselor Connection

Did you know that ADE sends out a monthly newsletter called the School Counselor Connection? Check out the March edition at  If you would like to be added to our distribution list, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter. 
School Counselor Connection

Expanding support beyond the virtual classroom: Lessons and recommendations from school counselors during the COVID-19 crisis

As children across the country grappled with the trauma of school closures and a global pandemic, school counselors faced unique barriers to delivering critical student supports. What have we learned about their experiences, and what can schools and districts do to ensure students have access to much-needed counseling programs?

Click the button below to read this paper.

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Michelle Hoop
Board of Directors Liaison