Within our Jamaican schools the guidance counseling programmes are designed to implement core principles as stated by the Jamaican school curriculum. Guidance counsellors are the ones who play the role of effectively analyzing and implementing these programmes which ensure that all students are well prepared to manage these “exciting times”; every student needs support and guidance. This is imperative as they embark upon the academic, social, spiritual and developmental challenges of adolescence; a time of rapid growth and change. Our guidance and counselling programmes offer students the opportunity to develop these characteristics necessary to become successful adults in a fast changing world. The primary goal of guidance and counselling and guidance counsellors is to guide and support overall student development and well-being in three broad areas of student life; while keeping in mind the central tasks of adolescence such as acquiring and assimilating self-knowledge, developing future goals and purposefulness, building strategies to accomplish goals, developing decision-making skills, coping with outcomes of decisions and exploring social relationships.
The guidance counsellor is charged with the responsibility of being the one who facilitates positive change in the lives of those in their care especially in the three broad areas. These include ‘Personal/Social Goals’ which entails helping students acquire the inter personal and communication skills to increase their understanding and respect of self and others. ‘Academic Goals’, which helps students develop a wide range of academic skills and become effective agents of their learning, ‘Post Secondary-College Planning Goals’ achieved through information sessions and by making resources available to research and apply to college, students are able to plan and make decisions about their future. John is a fifteen year old student who has recently returned to Jamaica to live with his father. John had left Jamaica at an early age to live with his mother in the Cayman Island. She is now incarcerated in the Cayman Island and so he now has to live with his father. John is having serious problems in school and at home. He has been getting very low grades in class and is sometimes very disrespectful to his teachers especially his female teachers. John also finds it hard to adjust and to make new friends; he resents the woman with whom his father now lives and is now hiding from school and hanging out at the video arcade. John’s teachers and his father have made arrangements for him to have weekly sessions with the schools Guidance Counsellor. The roles of a Guidance Counsellor in any Jamaican school vary. John’s case is just one example of the wide spectrum of psychosocial problems experienced by many Jamaica students who are in need of guidance and support. The role of a counselor in John’s case is vital to his adjustment to his new situation and with him dealing with the pain of his past experiences. Whatever his counsellor does is critical in his survival from his maladjustments. Myric (2003) defines the term ‘role’ as an elusive one. It generally refers to the part that one plays in a given situation. He further gives the definition of function as the way in which a professional carries out his/her part. Function gives attention to various behaviours that might be performed in the role.
Guidance and counselling is therefore a necessity in all Jamaican schools. The needs of students especially those at the adolescent stage are overwhelming. As postulated by Makinde (1993) persons at the adolescence stage in life need guidance as they seek to clarify their goals and values, strengthen their interests and aspirations, appreciate their philosophies and cognition and adjust to the norms of society. Some major roles and functions of the guidance counsellors according to Gibson et al. (1999) are to provide individual counselling, group counselling, work...
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