Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Counseling Program strives to produce high achieving learners who graduate college and career ready, well prepared to meet the challenges and high expectations of a diverse and changing world. All students participate in quality opportunities for self-directed personal growth supported by the comprehensive School Counseling Program. The School Counseling Program facilitates strategic partnerships between the school, family and community to develop successful, life-long learners and productive citizens.

The Counseling Program at middle and high schools seeks to positively impact the lives of all our students by partnering with staff, parents and community.

Our program offers comprehensive planning and guidance services addressing student academic, diverse career and college goals, as well as personal and social development.

We work to give all students the opportunities to acquire the educational and social competencies necessary for growth toward lifelong success and effective, responsible citizenship for a diverse and changing world.

The District's School Counseling Service uses Counseling Logic Model as a blueprint for learning and evaluation that provides a common language and point of reference for counseling activities and outcomes related to students. The model is based on best practices as defined by the American School Counselors Association, as well as guided by PAUSD’s Guidance/Counseling Services Board Policy.

The Logic Model illustrates what activities counselors engage in to promote student success and how student success is defined and measured. Long-term outcomes are defined as outputs that every student receives at graduation, while interim and short-term outcomes occur throughout a students secondary experience. The PAUSD Logic Model guides and informs programs, initiatives and practices.

If you have any questions, contact the Student Services Office at (650) 833-4208

Learning Environments Free from Sexual Harassment

Palo Alto Unified School District is committed to maintaining learning environments that are safe and free from sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in that it constitutes differential treatment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender, and, for that reason, is a violation of state and federal laws and a violation of PAUSD’s Sexual Harassment policy. PAUSD considers sexual harassment to be a major offense, which will result in discipline and immediate corrective action. 

Any person who believes that she or he has been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault shall bring the matter to the attention of the site administrator or the school district's Title IX Coordinator to faciliatate appropriate action. 

Below is information and resources on sexual harassment and sexual assault. 

Teen Sexual Assault Information: For Parents 

Talking to Your Child About Sexual Abuse

Teen Sexual Assault Information: For Teens

Futures Without Violence: Five Signs of a Healthy Teen Relationship

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network: Safety and Prevention

YWCA Silicon Valley: Sexual Assault Services

Love is Respect

Rape Trauma Services

Title IX Protections From Bullying & Harassment in School: Frequently Asked Questions for Students

After the Trauma: Helping My Child Cope

Suicide Prevention and Student Well-Being

Palo Alto School District is committed to the health and well-being of all students.   The district acknowledges that students learn best when their social and emotional health is tended to.  With this in mind, PAUSD offers a number of programs and services that promote student well-being and support suicide prevention.  These programs range from on site wellness centers at the high school, to free on site counseling, to crisis support.

Each school site has professional student support teams that work collaboratively with parents to ensure that social and emotional barriers to student learning are identified and addressed. If your student is experiencing distress or needs assistance with issues of well-being, please contact your child’s counselor or a site administrator.  

Resources on youth well being and suicide prevention can also be found below. 

Talking with Your Child About Current Events

One of PAUSD’s goals is to ensure that all students feel safe and welcome in school. When students feel safe they are better able to learn and thrive.

We know that some students and families may experience a range of feelings and concerns as current events unfold.  As adults, it is important that we model compassion and respect for all members of our community.    

If you notice that your student needs extra support in relation to certain topics in the news, or if any incidents of harassment are shared with you as a result of a current event, please notify the school immediately. On site counseling and assistance is available.  Please check in with the school psychologist and/or wellness center staff if additional support is needed for your child. Additionally, below are some resources that may be helpful to answer questions that your child may have about high profile current events.  

Academic Counseling

All secondary schools have an Academic Counseling Program to provide students with critical supports towards school success. School counselors are professional educators with a mental heath perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. School counselors do not work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total education program. The American School Counselor Association National Standards in the academic, career, and personal/social domains are the foundation for this work.

Counseling and Psychological Services

PAUSD contracts with three mental health agencies (Cassy /Acknowledge AllianceFamily and Children’s Services) at the elementary level and one mental health agency at the secondary level, to offer free, comprehensive site-based counseling supports to students. These services are provided by licensed and pre-licensed mental health professionals and include, assessments, ongoing counseling, crisis intervention and treatment, mental health education and consultation to children, families and school staff.

School based counseling is described as mental health supports provided by licensed and pre-licensed mental health professionals at the school site. Services offered are evidence based, positive and strengths focused, and include individual, group and family therapies in areas such as: stress management, coping and social skills, strategies to deal with grief and loss, anger management, conflict resolution, substance abuse therapy, and parenting skills. When needed, the school counselor may also refer the student to outside professionals if school-based counseling is not sufficient to meet a student’s or a student’s family’s needs. Parents interested in referring their child to on site counseling services may contact their child’s counselor.

In some instances children, families and school communities need to be compassionately supported on their journey through grief so they can move toward renewed hope and meaning. Kara offers a safe and caring environment where those coping with death and dying or other types of loss can express and normalize their feelings of grief. PAUSD contracts with Kara to provide support in cases where the child, family or school community experiences a significant event involving grief or loss, such as the death of a student, parent, or staff or other traumatic events. Kara services for students may be initiated by the school counselor in most cases. For more information about Kara, please click here.

Secondary School Counseling Programs

Secondary schools offer robust School Counseling Programs that provide a wide range of services and supports to promote student success. For specific information about school counseling programs, please visit the links below.