Influence of Technology in School Counseling

By Dr. Kimberlee Ratliff, Dr. Susan Foster Ebbs, and Dr. Marie Isom
Dr. Kimberlee Ratliff is the Program Director for the M.Ed. in School Counseling at American Public University. Dr. Susan Foster Ebbs and Dr. Marie Isom are faculty members in the School of Education at American Public University.

Whether it is a quick text message to a friend, a post on a social media site, or a job related task, technology is firmly embedded in today’s culture.  As a result, school counselors use technology to increase efficiency, access resources, network and collaborate, evaluate effectiveness, deliver counseling services, and participate in professional development (Hayden, Poynton & Sabella, 2010; VanHorn & Myrick, 2001).

Technology Supports School Counseling

Professional school counselors are tasked with ensuring student success and achievement, assisting students with career planning, and addressing personal/social needs (West Virginia Department of Education, n.d.; American School Counselor Association, 2012).  Technology can be a very useful tool for school counselors in delivering the schools’ counseling program.

At American Public University, we encourage our counselor candidates to use technology in the following ways:

  1. Communicating with parents and students by creating e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts, web pages, and presentations on school counseling related topics
  2. Referring students for online courses and credit recovery programs
  3. Programs such as Naviance for college and career exploration and planning
  4.  Language translator programs to assist with language barriers
  5.  Online surveys and software programs to collect and analyze data related to effectiveness of the counseling program
  6. Website games and activities in individual, group, and classroom guidance
  7. Apps on tablets for social skills training

Increases Accessibility of Resources

Online education programs and online counseling are becoming more prevalent every day.  School counselors can recommend online resources to support student success and increase access to underserved populations, such as rural and international communities.  These resources may include:

  1. Use of online courses to meet graduation requirements
  2. Educational support for students with medical conditions and other disabilities
  3. Alternative options for post-secondary and graduate school
  4. Referrals to appropriately credentialed online counseling services

Influences of Technology on School Counseling Role

Although the digital age has improved school counseling in many ways, there are also new challenges.  As we reflect on our early years in school counseling, cyber-bullying and internet safety were foreign concepts.  Today’s K-12 students face new challenges in this digital world, such as:

  1. Cyber bullying
  2. Online reputation and privacy
  3. Real or perceived threats from online communities
  4. Sexting and online pornography
  5. Internet safety

To address these concerns, ASCA and The Internet Keep Safe Coalition collaborated on the publication, Facebook for School Counselors (n.d.).  They suggest that school counselors can help develop school policies, respond to the incidents, help the community identify at-risk behavior, and address digital citizenship.  In the past, we have collaborated with community agencies to address these concerns.  It takes a community effort to educate students and school counselors can lead that effort.

As a school counselor, how do you use technology to support your program?  How can you help your K-12 students become responsible “digital citizens”?



American School Counselor Association and The Internet Keep Safe Coalition. (n.d.). Facebook for School Counselors.

Hayden, L., Poynton, T., & Sabella, R. (2010). School counselor’s use of technology. Journal of Technology and Counseling, 5(1),
Retrieved from http://jtc.colstate.edu/Vol5_1/Hayden.htm

Sabella, R. A. (2003). SchoolCounselor.com: A friendly and practical guide to the world wide web (2nd edition).
Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media Corporation.

Van Horn, S.M, & Myrick, R.D. (2001). Computer technology and the 21st century school counselor.
Professional School Counseling, 5(2),

West Virginia Department of Education. (n.d.). West Virginia School Counseling Programs.

       Retrieved December 12, 2012, from http://wvde.state.wv.us/counselors/.

About the Authors:

Dr. Ratliff holds an Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed. in School Counseling, and B.S. in Psychology. She has been with APUS since September 2010, and is an Associate Professor and Program Director of School Counseling. She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), National Certified School Counselor (NCSC), K-12 Certified School Counselor (VA) and Trauma and Loss School Specialist with 12 years of experience as an elementary and middle school counselor.

Dr. Foster Ebbs holds an Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, M.Ed.  in Counseling with concentration in School Counseling, and  B.A. in Psychology and Biology. She is a Certified K-12  School Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor, Associate Professor at APUS, and Licensed Professional Counselor in Louisiana. She specializes in counseling and therapy with children, adolescents, and families.

Dr. Isom holds an Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology, M.A. in Counseling with concentration in School Counseling, and B.S. in Psychology and Biology.  She is a National Board Certified K-12 Professional School Counselor, Associate Professor at APUS, and Licensed Professional Counselor in the coastal region of South Carolina. She specializes in counseling and therapy with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

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