As soon as I entered the field of School Counselling I knew I had to be an advocate. I thought as a teacher I knew what School Counsellors did. Was I wrong!!!
Since then my colleagues and I have advocated at a district level to bring more awareness to what we do. Has it made a difference? YES! YES! YES! Our district is one of the best in the country when it comes to supporting , understanding and recognizing the work that School Counsellors do.
I have also advocated at a provincial level by being one of the voices and president of the then Alberta Guidance Council. Today my friend Erin Luong has taken up that advocacy role in the ATA Council Of School Counsellors and they are lucky to have her.
At a national level in 1999 , I was part of the first delegation of Counsellors to go to China along with my leader and friend Maria de Cicco as part of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association . My administrator and district supported me as a School Counsellor advocate on this journey. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure and never forget.
Strong leaders are needed to be the voice along with School Counsellors . We need someone in Canada who has the same powerful, inspiring voice as Michelle Obama does here:
Today although I am semi retired I still want to advocate. I believe School Counselling is one of the most important positions that every school still needs , maybe now more than ever.
So I say Canadian School Counsellors raise up your voices, if you want change , make it happen … be the change!!!!! We need your voice! Being silent won’t produce the changes needed across the country. You are valuable. You do matter . You are needed and you do make a difference. YOUR VOICE MATTERS!
Want to know how to be a great advocate just follow the #SCCHAT feed on twitter to see how it’s done. Let’s join in Canadians with our world counterparts who are advocating and being the voice for School Counsellors worldwide.
Hope you’ll join me and @counselorPCE for a very special #NSCW18#scchat this Wednesday at 8:30PM ET! Time to celebrate our favorite profession!
The impact that social media has on kids is undeniable. A recent article in the New York Times highlights some of the more concerning issues.
I don’t think we need much convincing that social media has had an impact on all our lives and it is not going away anytime soon. I am a neophyte when it comes to social media, but in my work with children and their families over the past 30 years has allowed me a first hand insight into the world of children and their families.
What can we do as parents, counsellors and educators to mitigate the impact that social media is having on our young people? As in any situation where we are trying to teach children, we ourselves need to be the role model. We need to examine the message we send our kids when we are engaged in use of our own devices. What parameters do we have for ourselves when it comes to use of devices? Do we actually have discussions with our kids about amount of usage, times and places that are no go zones for adults and kids? Do we understand the safety issues and if not do we educate ourselves about these issues and discuss them with our children? Yes, with any privilege comes responsibility, both for us as the adult and for our children whom we must guide to be ethical digital citizens. Don’t let their media skills fool you! Although they appear to be very savvy in the area of technology, they do not have the life experience or a fully developed brain that allows them to project the outcome of what they may see as just having a little fun or wanting to fit in.
Often I am asked the question, ” Why do so many kids today suffer from anxiety ?” There is no easy answer to this question but there are many more questions that we need to ask. In particular, “What is it that appears to be causing such an increase in child and adolescent anxiety? Is it related to social media? Are we over pathologizing what may be normal reactions to stressful situations in our environment. According to Dr Stan Kutcher, a leading psychiatrist from Dalhousie University, “anxiety is a gift we have inherited from our ancestors to protect us from threat and to kick-start ambition; to fight it we have to face it.” In order to “face it” we need to first of all understand what is happening and then respond to it in a manner which will allow us to maximize the outcome.
In other words we can use the anxiety or stress, to benefit us in our day-to-day functioning. If we see it as a gift, we respond from a totally different repertoire or mindset than if we see it as a threat. A gift is something positive, something we welcome, something that may make things easier for us, or at times may challenge us and help us grow. How can we work with our kids to help them understand and see anxiety as a gift? What are some strategies that will help them develop a different mindset? Additionally, what part does social media play and are we, as parents, educators, and counsellors, contributing to the mindset of threat or gift? In my next guest post I will explore these very questions and discuss ways to unpack the gift of anxiety.
As a Counsellor or Psychologist you are surrounded by people who are not always optimistic. Is it important that you remain optimistic? I absolutely think it is essential.
How did I get to be an optimist? For me I believe there is a genetic component to why I am the way I am. I also believe it is because I have chosen to cope in the best possible way to the many negative things that have happened in my life. It is unrealistic for me to expect that I will feel optimistic in every situation, but in every situation I attempt to look for the good and what I can learn. Does this mean I look through rose coloured glasses? No, I fully recognize that there are some situations I have not handled well or times I have felt very sad or hurt or unloved, but I have worked very hard in my life not to stay in negativity. I feel my feelings , reach out for support and move towards a more optimistic outlook.
I surround myself as much as possible with people who lift me up , not tear me down. I hope you too will find the good in each possible moment you can , not just for you, but for the people you serve or love.
Hope doesn’t mean denying reality , but looking it in the eyes and remembering the heroes and events that challenged injustice in the past.
Picture Made with Haiku Deck
There are so many ways to use Haiku Deck and any teacher and counsellor can do so with students. I strongly recommend you check out the new teacher guide for step by step information that is extremely helpful. SCCHAT this is a great resource for you.
I have been very fortunate to work with and supervise many great School Counsellors. I learn from them and they learn from me. Giving back matters and I believe seasoned School Counsellors should supervise our future School Counsellors. It helps us stay on top of our profession and allows us to be in a constant state of learning.
According to Bradley and Gould (2001) all supervision models should incororate a collaborative relationship which focuses on the indiviuality of the supervisee and one that facilitates growth and autonomy.
Some things to reflect on if you are ever in the position of supervising a student counsellor :
Have they developed a conceptual map with each client?
Which theoretical models are they adding to their toolbox?
What actions should they take in varing situations?
Are they developing the instincts and comfort level required of a beginning counsellor?
Are they developing a leadership role within the school?
Are they being culturally sensitive?
How are they collaborating with staff? How are they optimizing their role?
Do they understand how a comprehensive counselling program plan is executed?
Have you discussed limits to their scope of practice?
Have you let them know they will make mistakes, misjudge situations, and lose track of sessions , but time and experience will take care of all of this.
Have you let them know lifelong reflection is essential?
Have you discussed dual roles, boundary issues and confidentiality?
Have you discussed ethical issues as they arise?
Have you modelled on a regular basis your counselling skills?
Have you updated read about updated models of supervision?
Are you in a constant state of professional development?
If you are a psychologist are you constantly aware of your own code of ethics?
Do you model and practice self- care strategies yourself?
The above are but a few thoughts to get you started. For more information on supervision and supervisory practices click here. The ATA Council of School Counsellors also offers excellent resources for a new School Counsellor.
Collaboration is key to being a 21st century school counselor and working with teachers is one of the greatest collaborative efforts school counselors can make on behalf of students. Teachers and counselors have to work together to maximize their impact on student achievement and this can be done in a variety of ways. Whether cross-walking standards for classroom lessons or talking about individual students, this partnership is essential to helping students to be successful.
Engaging students and staff is critical when it comes to school counselling.
Student engagement is vital. How we do it can vary. With so many students in a school you will most likely need to engage students online as well as in person. There are many ways to engage the students whether it is one to one or in groups. Learning to engage online was not easy for me , but it was super helpful. If you are a new School Counsellor #immooc can help with this.
Here are some things I like to do and ask with students in person.
At the end of every session I check in with the student to see how the session went.
I will often ask how are you feeling about what we talked about in session today?
What is the one thing you will use as a result of our time together today? This allows me to gage if I have been helpful and if there is something I said that the student connected with.
Find ways to collaborate with students on student led initiatives on bullying etc.
Engaging Staff. Get to know your staff. Take time to have lunch with them. It is good for you to take a break and get out of your office. Helping students can be very draining at times especially if you are addressing more serious issues, so get out of your office and make time to recharge. Self-Care is important. If your staff feel you are helpful they will most likely refer a student to you.
We are all working together to enhance the success of all students so if students see us collaborating in their best interest while always maintaining confidentiality we will best be able to help them. For more information on teacher counsellor partnerships click here.
Self Care… not just important Essential
School Counselling can be a very demanding career. I know it can be extremely exhausting as well as invigorating. School Counsellors often hear difficult stories and that can be energy draining. For many students Christmas can be a tough time. It is important for us to take time to heal as well. Pay attention to how you think , feel and act.
The following article discusses compassion fatigue and is such an important topic for any new school counsellor, but also for seasoned counsellors as well. Most importantly for all check out these self-care tips here.
Most importantly laugh and be with people who make you laugh and life as a School Counsellor will be so much more enjoyable.