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Due to the different patterns and rates of development during early adolescence, the counselors should understand that normal development differs. This requires the counselor to learn how the emotional, moral, and cognitive development of a student influences his/her ability to communicate. Some students may respond to the cognitive behavioral approaches in evaluating metacognition, whereas other students may need behavioral rehearsals that are more concrete in conflict resolution.
This requires the counselors to act as leaders and advocates of transition programs. The adoption of such roles is vital in creating an inviting environment and is exclusive to middle school. The counselors in middle schools should work together with counselors in elementary schools to train get parents and students ready for transition, and synchronize the orientation programs in middle schools to assist in engaging and connecting students. In addition, the counselors should establish teaming and advisory programs in attempting to facilitate a supportive environment and positive adult relationship. Such programs should focus on improving the relationships between students and teachers, to facilitate emotional and social development, and promote a sense of caring and belonging.
Counselors have to consider the rate of development and the culture of students. It is normal to find that boys begin puberty later as compared to girls. Additionally, in some cultures puberty usually starts earlier, for instance, African Americans. Studies have indicated that boys who develop at a quicker rate are more successful in the area of social recognition and sports, while girls who develop faster usually receive scrutiny from others. Research has also shown that any deviation from normal development, whether slower or quicker than peers, may result to psychosocial maladaption. As a result, counselors in middle schools should put into consideration the timing and salience of culture. This means that counselors should specifically focus on students with late or early puberty to find out the psychosocial and psychological impacts of counseling.
Social and academic outcomes and counseling. During early adolescence, there is increased stress on the counselors to collaborate with educators to concentrate on the academic outcomes. A study conducted in 2002, established that the main concern of transitioning to middle schools concentrate on the responsibilities, rules, and expectations in a new environment (Akos, 2002). This means that for the counselor, their main objective should be to include organizational and procedural aspects in academic strategies and transition programs. Interventions should include classroom guidance sessions and group counseling sessions which should involve teaching skills such as career awareness, conflict resolution, and goal setting (Galassi & Akos, 2004).
Motivation, Self-esteem, and counseling. The motivation and self esteem of early adolescents can become vulnerable during the transition experienced in middle schools. The counselors therefore have an important role in the psychological well being of adolescents by instilling high self esteem. A number of proposals have been suggested as to how counselors can utilize high self esteem to influence students. This involves coming up with effective solutions by involving the adolescents in problem-solving so as to raise their motivation and self-esteem, as opposed portraying the cognitive functioning of an individual as flawless, which will not raise the confidence of individuals (Campbell & Brigman, 2003).
Recommendations for the role of a counselor. In 2003, the American school counselor association came up with a guide for implementation and development of counseling programs. The guide is made up of a framework intended to facilitate the development of a student in social/personal, career, and academic domains. This model comprises a guidance curriculum that integrates important lessons used in the development of social/personal, career planning, and academic achievement into the education of students.
There are other recommendations for counselors have been formulated by the National Middle School Association. These recommendations acknowledge the complex nature of educational and social transition during early adolescence; these recommendations propose that counselors should be involved actively in the transition process. The recommendations include;
-Middle school counselors should work in collaboration elementary school counselors and teachers to identify the curricular differences that exist across schools.
-The significance of counseling transition issues at both middle and elementary schools.
-The counselors have the role of teaching parents about middle school transition matters.
-The counselors should provide services, curricula, and activities that are focused on lessening the transition problems.