Juvenile Probation Counselor

Probation counselors usually specialize in either juvenile or adult probation. Probation counselors who assist both groups typically work in rural areas. However, in certain states, probation counselors assist both juveniles and adults.

Juvenile probation counselors spend most their time assisting juvenile delinquents, but they do have many other duties. These specialists are also referred to as youth corrections counselors. Juvenile probation counselors advise courts where troubled youth who need to be supervised should live, such as a correctional facility, state school, or group home. They also meet regularly with social workers, juveniles' families, counselors, and other probation officers. Additionally, juvenile probation counselors write predisposition reports, testify at court hearings, and supervise diversion agreements.

Probation counselors also administer behavioral, mental health, and substance abuse counseling. Counselors frequently organize and teach classes to educate juveniles and their families. Juvenile probation counselors who administer counseling typically hold graduate degrees in psychology, counseling, or social work.

Follow these steps to begin a career as a juvenile probation officer:

  • Earn at a minimum a bachelor's degree in psychology, counseling, social work, criminal justice or related field
  • It's encouraged to acquire some experience assisting youth, especially troubled ones. You could gain experience by volunteering at a residential treatment facility, juvenile probation center, or group home
  • In some jurisdictions or states, juvenile probation counselors have duties similar to juvenile probation specialists. For specific details, contact the probation department where you live. Regardless of your job, you must obtain a bachelor's degree to have opportunities for promotion and salary increases

The following are common duties of juvenile probation counselors:

  • Interview juveniles, teachers, and members of their families to acquire details about the juvenile's family, psychological, educational, and social background
  • Evaluate and screen juveniles, determine whether juveniles are at risk of substance abuse, conduct sexual adjustment tests by utilizing specialized diagnostic methods, organize group therapy and educational sessions, coordinate clinical and treatment programs to rehabilitate juveniles, and investigate whether struggling families qualify for government assistance
  • Administer counseling, organize group counseling, and assist other counselors conducting intensive counseling
  • Organize interventions at the request of families, administer therapeutic treatments, and recommend resources for families with at-risk youth
  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams of specialists and monitor youth who've undergone counseling and other treatments recommend by these specialists
  • Design and initiate detailed individual and group case management plans to correct behavioral, substance abuse, and emotional problems for juveniles and their families
  • Administer specialized counseling to families, individuals, and groups and organize classes to teach people how to improve relationships, money management, physical and mental health, and develop various life skills
  • Administer psychosocial services intended to assist high risk individuals, such as juveniles with drug problems, abused children, children who've experienced serious trauma, and juveniles who've been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders
  • Serve as co-counselors with other juvenile counselors working exclusively with juveniles with substance abuse problems, or juveniles who've been physically abused
  • Prepare psychosocial notations, evaluations, and social summaries within client charts
  • Correspond with social agencies and act as a liaison with courts, schools, foster care homes, and law enforcement agencies

Education and Experience
Aspiring juvenile probation counselors should earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, psychology, counseling, social work, or a related major and acquire a year of work experience as a social worker or counselor.

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