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Traditional vs. Virtual Guidance Programs

By the Guidance Staff of Florida Virtual School:
Dr. Rosemary DuRocher
John Myers
Kathy Walker
Brenda Finora In a traditional environment, a guidance counselor communicates with counselees, their families and others in a room where eye contact and body language can obviously impact the discussion. It’s much different for a virtual guidance counselor. When visualizing the communication world of such an individual, think of a parent phone call with a person you have never met, and remember you have no idea what their issue is as you pick up the receiver. For this reason, a person who wishes to excel as a counselor in a virtual program must really think about the “customer service†they provide as their most important tool to having effective and meaningful discussions. Guidance Counselors in virtual programs encounter many of the same issues as counselors in traditional programs. We deal with academic planning, students who are having difficulty in their courses, academic integrity, issues brought by teachers, issues with abuse, self-harm and/or other dysfunctional problems. One major difference is that we are not able to use visual cues to assist us in understanding the issues and must rely on our own knowledge and skills. Virtual programs often raise the issue of differing student populations. A counselor may be located in a metropolitan area, but s/he deals with students all over Florida. Therefore we encounter students from rural districts, consequently bringing issues that we never dealt with in many years as public educators. In short, one should consider the virtual role to be similar to the traditional role in job performance, requiring most of the same skills but we do it in a different manner and we may work with a much broader cross section of the population.