Personal-Social Development

Guidance personnel ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop their social-emotional competencies, make positive contributions to the school and their communities, and become equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful future.

Role of the School Counselor in Personal-Social Development

With variations depending on the needs of the school community, the school counselor's role in terms of student personal-social development often includes:  

  • providing on-going support to students (i.e., individual counseling and thematic group counseling), as well as to staff members in order to ensure student success. 
  • helping students acquire resiliency, coping, decision-making, interpersonal, and mediation skills.
  • fostering student motivation by helping students to connect short-term and long-term goals.
  • facilitating social/emotional learning opportunities and restorative approaches to reduce disciplinary referrals and suspension rates.
  • facilitating and coordinating access to guidance lessons related to personal-social development.
  • supporting school-wide efforts to positively impact school culture and climate including a focus on transitions (i.e., articulation, returning from alternative settings, etc.).
  • building home-school-community alliances and facilitating access to community resources.
  • providing crisis intervention counseling and mental health referrals as needed.
  • addressing bullying and participating in the school-wide Respect for All initiative.
  • working closely with school administration and faculty in terms of child abuse prevention and intervention. 
  • helping students and families with a wide range of concerns they may be faced with including but not limited to temporary housing, substance abuse, court involvement, as well as teen pregnancy and parenting.
  • connecting students to activities, electives, and youth leadership opportunities based on their personal and career interests. 

In summary, school counselors support schools in providing a whole child education, as well as in helping students to pursue their fullest potential.  The school counselor's efforts in terms of student personal-social development can be visualized through the framework of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. 


Areas of Focus in Personal-Social Development

School counselor areas of focus in terms of personal-social development include:

Child Abuse

Child abuse/mandated reporting resources including the ACS/DOE joint policy statement on educational neglect are available (here).

Court Involved Youth and Families

Students who are court involved or who transition back from court ordered settings may need a variety of academic and guidance supports to be successful in school. 

Having a parent, caregiver, or family member incarcerated is an adverse childhood experience.  Children with incarcerated parents and family members may exhibit behavioral and academic concerns.  Following are resources for educators and families.

  • Osborne Association - offers supportive programming for children and youth with incarcerated parents and resources for those working with children.  The Osborne Association also provides opportunities for individuals who have been in conflict with the law to transform their lives through innovative, effective, and replicable programs that serve the community by reducing crime and its human and economic costs.    
    • A fact sheet for educators, teachers, counselors, and school professionals in supporting the children of incarcerated parents is available (here).  
    • Stronger Together is a handbook on the experiences of children of incarcerated parents.
  • Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration - a toolkit made available by Sesame Street

Crisis Support

Each New York City Public School is required to have an annually updated crisis intervention plan and should have a trained school crisis team.  Schools are responsible to provide and encourage proactive planning within their school communities regarding their specific crisis protocols and provide professional development opportunities in such areas as stages of grief, victims of trauma, tips for parents, suicide prevention, etc. to ensure everyone will be prepared when a crisis occurs. 

School counselors facilitate suicide prevention campaigns, and work closely with school administration to provide immediate assistance to students and families in crisis.

NYC DOE protocols and tools for schools, as well as additional Crisis Support Resources for such areas as grief and bereavement; suicide; self-injury; trauma; parent support; and natural disasters are available at the Principals' Portal, as well as (here) at the Guidance Portal. 

De-escalation and Contacting 911 for Emergency Medical Services: Responding to Behavioral Crises

new! When students experience behavioral crises and  engage in behavior that poses a substantial risk of serious injury to themselves or others, schools must determine the appropriate way to manage the behavior and whether the behavior can be safely de-escalated.  Every effort must be made by responding  school staff to safely de-escalate the  behavior where possible using strategies and interventions for addressing behavioral crises and in-school and community resources, including engaging staff trained in crises de-escalation, members of the Building Response Team, Crisis Intervention Team members, guidance staff and staff from School-Based Health and Mental Health Clinics. However, where a student’s behavior poses an imminent and substantial risk of serious injury to himself or others and the situation cannot be safely addressed by school staff or the support services available to the school, 911 must be contacted.  

The policies and procedures for responding to behavioral crises and determining when to contact 911 for emergency medical assistance are available herePlease review these carefully and ensure that all school staff are familiar with these policies and procedures.  Additional guidance for schools on responding to behavioral crises is being developed and will be made available. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact your Network Youth Development Liaison. 

Mental Health

School counselors connect students and families who may have mental health needs to vital community resources.  School counselors lend their full assistance in these referrals, and provide follow up in order to build networks of support between the home, school, and the community.

Additional mental health resources are available (here) at the Guidance Portal.

Pregnant and Parenting Students

School counselors help pregnant and parenting students by facilitating guidance conferences with their families about their needs, helping them remain focused on class assignments, and providing information on pregnancy-related health care and child care.

Related Services Counseling

Related Services Counseling Providers offer the on-going support of individual and group counseling to help ensure the success of students with disabilities.

  • Understanding Behavioral Supports features training materials on Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs), Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs), and Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDRs). 

Respect for All

The importance of promoting respect for diversity in our daily practice is vital to creating and sustaining an inclusive school climate and culture in each of our schools so that all students feel valued, supported and safe. .
Cyberbullying & Social Media Resources on Internet Safety: 

Resources, including websites that offer free curricular, video and other classroom resources, professional development opportunities, fact sheets, research and other materials are available at Respect For All Resources.

School Culture and Climate

School counselors positively impact school culture and climate, which have a profound effect upon students’ social development and academic achievement.  For further information, please visit the Principals' Portal.

Social Emotional Learning

“Social and emotional competence is the ability to understand, manage, and express the social and emotional aspects of one’s life in ways that enable the successful management of life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, solving everyday problems, and adapting to the complex demands of growth and development.” (Elias et al, 1997).  Further information is available at the Principals' Portal.

School counselors facilitate social-emotional learning opportunities for students involved in disciplinary action.

  • Discipline Code - NYC DOE Citywide Standards of Discipline and Intervention Measures, and Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities K-12 (includes translated versions)

School counselors help to develop Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs), and provide insight when Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDRs) are conducted.

Student Activities / Youth Leadership

School counselors work closely with Coordinators of Student Activities (COSAs) to connect students to extracurricular activities based on their personal and career interests.  Youth leadership opportunities are offered routinely to empower students to utilize all of their talents and skills in the service of their school community.

Students in Temporary Housing

Comprehensive resources to support students in temporary housing (STH) including the McKinney-Vento Residency Guide and Questionnaire, as well as a list of STH borough content area experts are available (here).

Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention

Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) Counselors facilitate a range of prevention and intervention services in grades K-12. The goals of the program are to:

  • Reduce the prevalence of substance abuse among youth, delay the initiation of substance abuse behavior among youth, decrease the negative health, social, and educational consequences associated with substance abuse. 
  • Prevent the escalation of substance abuse behaviors to levels requiring treatment.

Further information is available (here).

Unaccompanied Child Migrants

School counselors play a critical role in supporting students who have recently arrived and settled in New York City.  Due to the increase in violence, murder, gang activity, and political insecurity in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, children ranging from infancy through 17 years of age are arriving in the United States unaccompanied by parents or an adult guardian.   

 Disclaimer: The NYC Department of Education does not endorse and is not responsible for the policies and practices of external partners.  All work with external partners should be conducted in accordance with the Chancellor's Regulations.