Counseling and Referral Tutorials: Boundaries of Competence

Counselor must limit their practice to their professional competence, educational background, and personal experiences by the laws, rules, guidelines, accreditation, and credentials. If a client’s counseling needs exceed the counselor’s expertise and competence, an appropriate referral must be made by the PGCA Code of Ethics C1 – Professional Responsibility.

There are two types of referrals: internal and external.

A. Internal referrals are made when teachers or advisors notice unusual behavior in their students. This may indicate poor academic performance, emotional disturbance, or an inability to function well in class.

Procedure for Making Internal Referrals:

The teacher can inform the guidance counselor by filling in the referral form through the link:

All referrals are confidential, and only the concerned teacher/adviser and guidance counselor should be aware of the referral to avoid any issues.

Once the referral is made, the guidance counselor will contact the student. They will complete two call slips signed by the concerned teacher, indicating the time the student will be pulled out of their class. One copy of the call slip will be given to the teacher, and the other to be kept by the guidance counselor.

After this process, the guidance counselor will issue an admission slip to the student indicating the end time of the counseling session.
Referral-Worthy Indicators

Referral to a guidance counselor may be necessary when a student or pupil exhibits any of the following indicators:

a.) Being a victim of bullying or engaging in bullying behavior.
b.) Frequent absences or tardiness.
c.) Indifference, boredom, non-involvement, confusion, isolation from the group, or difficulty working in a group.
d.) Excessive timidity or oversensitivity.
e.) Displaying a negative attitude or over-rationalizing and making excuses.
f.) Complaints of illness or lack of energy.
g.) Overly domineering or quarrelsome behavior.
h.) Continual disinterest in school activities.
i.) An untidy, poorly dressed appearance.
j.) Displaying habitual disrespect, bad manners, vandalism, or using foul language.
k.) Habitual dishonesty.
l.) Nervous agitation, worry, or indecisiveness.
m.) Chronic dissatisfaction or destructive criticism.
n.) Excessive talking or questioning about irrelevant topics.
o.) Habitual idleness or daydreaming.
p.) Continuous inability to comprehend.
q.) Low self-respect.
r.) Any unusual, persistent behavioral pattern.
s.) Periods of inferior academic achievement after displaying periods of scholarship.
t.) Underachievement.
u.) Suicidal ideation or any other actions that violate school standards.

It is vital to recognize these symptoms to refer students to the guidance counselor as soon as possible for appropriate support and intervention.

B. External Referral—An external referral is made when a student’s need is beyond their capacity. Depending on the case, the guidance counselor will refer to a professional who specializes in the particular case. Informed consent should be obtained from the guidance counselor, the parent, and the child.

I. When do we need an external referral? Referrals will be made when:

a.) The problem or request is beyond the counselor’s level of training and expertise.
b.) The client believes they cannot work with the counselor.
c.) The student prefers to speak with someone else about their concern.
d.) After some time and effort, no progress was made in helping the student.
e.) The counselor is no longer available.
f.) The client needs specialized attention.

II. Procedure for Making External Referrals:

  1. The guidance counselor will talk to the child’s parents of the child who need a referral.
  2. Informed consent should be obtained between the guidance counselor and the parents.
  3. The guidance counselor will coordinate with the professional.
  4. A referral letter will be drafted by the counselor and sent through email to the specific professional who will handle the case.

External consultants may include:

• Medical and dental practitioners
• Spiritual or religious groups
• Children with special needs
• Legal consultants
• Speech therapists
• Drug abuse counselors
• Psychiatrists (treatment of behavioral abnormalities/emotional disturbance behavior disorder)
• Clinical psychologists (deep-seated psychological problems but who are not necessarily out of touch with reality)

III. Procedure for External Referral

  1. Inform the student of the need for referral (with client consent for adolescents).
  2. Talk to the parents about the need for their child’s referral (with mutual consent).
  3. Coordinate with other government agencies/private practitioners and provide a list to parents.

IV. How to Identify a Student with a Problem?
We can identify students with problems by observing their behavior. In observing, consider the following:

• Decide on the specific significant behavior you will observe.
• Take notes on how this behavior is shown, to what degree, and how many times this behavior is exhibited. An exact description should be made.
• Avoid generalizations.
• Keep your interpretation separate from the description of the behavior.

V. Procedures for Conducting Parent-Teacher Conferences
The following details our procedure for conducting a parent-teacher conference.

  1. Send a letter to the parent by email informing them about their child’s concern.
  2. The parents will contact the guidance office to confirm the appointment.
  3. The guidance counselor will inform the homeroom adviser/subject teacher of the student’s concern.
  4. The concerned parties, teacher/teachers, and the guidance counselor will meet at the Guidance Office. This is an opportunity for open and collaborative communication to support the student.
  5. Following the conference, the guidance counselor will prepare a comprehensive report that will be signed by the parents, the teacher/s, and the guidance counselor. This report will outline the areas of concern identified during the conference and provide recommendations for further action to support the student’s academic and personal growth.