School counselors have been called the “glue” that binds the entire school community together (school social workers, school psychologists, and SEL specialists play a similar role).

How does counseling link to SEL?

School counselors have formal and informal responsibilities when it comes to promoting SEL. School counselors can introduce SEL standards as part of the school counseling curriculum. They can use SEL in their small groups and with individual students. As leaders and advocates for all students, school counselors can galvanize the school community and aid them in adopting school wide programs, assessment procedures, and professional development opportunities. School counselors can model SEL in their interactions with all stakeholders throughout the day.

Try this!

Build a shared vocabulary amongst all school and community stakeholders.

Work with your school counselor to integrate SEL into classroom lessons, individual planning, and responsive services, such as small groups and individual counseling.

Develop a plan, with your school counselor, social worker, psychologist and others  to use EQ assessments to measure progress in student competencies, success factors, and school climate.


In Unit 6, Case Discussion, respond to one or both of these discussion questions A and B:

A) In the discussion prompt labeled: Formal and Informal SEL, respond to the following: If you know a school counselor, social worker, or psychologist, speak with this specialist about SEL and how it fits with the “formal” work that they do. Then discuss the “informal” ways that they lead and promote SEL. Ask them about what EQ competencies they use in order to be an educational leader.

B) In the discussion prompt labeled: How do you promote SEL in formal or informal ways? Respond to the following . . . How about you? In what ways do you promote SEL, formally or informally,  in your educational environment or context? What EQ skills do you find you draw upon the most?


Additional reading related to this topic:

American School Counselor Association.

Ciarrochi, J. & Mayer, J.D. (Eds.) (2007). Applying emotional intelligence: A practitioner’s guide.  New York: Psychology Press.

Coleman, H. L. K & Yeh, C. (Eds.) (2008). Handbook of school counseling. New York:Routledge.

DeVoss, J., & Stillman, S. B. (2012). Developing emotionally intelligent school counselors for  the prosocial classroom: A case study. In P. M. Brown, M. W. Corrigan, & A. Higgins- D’Alessandro (Eds.), The handbook of prosocial education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Erford, B. (ed.) (2004). Professional school counseling: A handbook of theories, programs and  practices. Austin, TX: CAPS Press/PRO-ED

Feldman-Barrett, L. & Salovey, P. (Eds.). (2002). The wisdom in feeling: Psychological processes in emotional intelligence. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Pellitteri, J.S., Stern, R. Shelton, C., & Ackerman, B. (Eds). (2006). Emotionally intelligent school counseling. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Reinstein D. K. (2006). To hold and be held: The therapeutic school as a holding environment. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stillman, S. B. (2012). Developing EQ Smart School Counselors: A Case Study. Retrieved from

John Pellitteri 

JOHN PELLITTERI, Ph.D. is an associate professor and the director of the Graduate Program in Counseling at Queens College, City University of New York.  His clinical experience includes work as a school counselor, elementary education teacher, music educator, music therapist, and counseling psychologist.  His research and scholarly publications in emotional intelligence have been presented nationally and internationally.  Dr. Pellitteri is the lead editor for the book, Emotionally intelligent school counseling (Erlbaum, 2006) and the author of Emotional processes in music therapy. (Barcelona Press, 2009).  He is the president and co-founder of the International Society for Emotional Intelligence. (

Susan Stillman

Susan Stillman, Ed. D. is Six Seconds’ Director of Education, Global Office and dedicated to supporting educators in the teaching, practice, and measurement of EQ.  She is a former K-12 school counselor, who has consulted on the implementation of social emotional learning around the world.  Former chair of the Social Emotional Learning Special Interest Group at AERA, she offers training, strategic planning, and research assistance for both K-12 schools and also universities who wish to integrate SEL into their programs. On two university faculties, she mentors students and chairs doctoral committees in SEL, educational leadership, and grounded theory. She taught school counseling and social emotional learning at Southern Connecticut State University and at Northern Arizona University, where she conducted research with interns using the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessments, the SEI –Adult version and the SEI-YV for youth. Susan is an Institute for Social Innovation Fellow at Fielding Graduate University, the co-sponsor of this iSEL course.