A-Z Dealing with Stress

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A: Attitude: Your attitude matters.

  • Be as happy as you can. Get up each day and start your day with a positive attitude. Allow yourself extra time to get up in the morning and get to places. Being 15 to 20 minutes early can reduce your stress level.
  • Allow 10-15 minutes a day for YOU time. Time to wind down, time to reflect, time to let go of your worries.
  • Be a person who can say NO and not feel guilty. It is OK to say no to things that are not healthy and things you really don’t want to do.

B: Books :

  • Find a book on the topic you are trying to cope with can be helpful. Beliefs challenge your thoughts about the topic: Be positive! Books  can be healing! One of my all time favorite books is Mans Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
  • Be a person who knows how to wait, read a book online or have a book with you that you can devour while you have to wait somewhere. It not only makes the time go faster , but it is a wonderful way to pass the time.

C: Caring and compassion make a difference:

  • Care about others. Helping others helps you to focus on others not on your stress. Do one thing today to help someone else.
  • Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself on a mirror with an erasable marker. Write a positive note to yourself on a card and carry it around in your wallet.

D: Decide:

  • Trust the process.  Change is not easy , but possible. Be easy on yourself. Decide not to let stress get the best of you.
  •  Make your life better. If you decide to reach it may change your life. Reaching out is a strength not a weakness.

E: Express your feelings:

  •  Feelings are neither right nor wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else , then that needs to be changed. So write down your feelings. Tell someone how you feel. Draw your feelings in an art journal. Find some great ideas for art Journalling on pinterest.
  • Exercise is always helpful. You might only need to exercise 7 mins. each day. You can do it!

F: Find great strategies:

  • Find the strategies that work for you, not someone else.

G: Give yourself a break:

  • Live and let live. Take each day one day at a time.

H: Hope:

  •  It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective.

I : Invite others to help you :

  • You may want to reach out to a counsellor, psychologist, doctor, professor or mental health professional.

J: Just be yourself:

  • There is no other you… celebrate that.

K: Kindness is always a good thing:

L: Listen to music:

  • It soothes the soul
  • Heals the mind.
  • Reduces stress

M: Mindfulness matters:

  •  Focus on your breath
  • Be present

N: Naming game :

54321 Exercise.

O: Open your mind to new strategies:

  • Can you think of ten more?
  • Ask a friend what they do to cope with stress

P: Positive self talk matters:

  • What you say and do matters
  • Talk gently and kindly to yourself… just like you would to a friend.

Q: Quite your mind:

  • Be still!
  • Breathe slowly

R: Relax:

  • Chill throughout the day reminding yourself to not sweat the small stuff and you do know it is all small stuff.

S: Strategies : the more you have the better.  Here are 99.

T: Trust:

  • that your feelings will not last forever
  • that things will get better… stress is temporary

U: Understanding your coping skills matters.

V: Visualize what you want.

W: Watch a funny show to get your mind off all the serious stuff.

X:  A to Z  list.

cropped-img_0751.jpgY: YOU MATTER . Remember who matters!

Z: A-Z another list.

I am sure you can add many more. How do you cope? 

What Do You Think School Is For?

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As I reflect on Seth Godin’s blog today I am thinking about all the educators and what they are doing each and every day as they start a new school year.

Seth reminds us

  1. that digital learning is a revolution that can transform people faster and with more impact
  2. to play as if it matters
  3. that dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy

Check the rest of his talk out  here.

What do you think school is for and how will you make it better for students?

Ken Robinson always makes us think and I hope he does you too. Both Seth and Ken challenge us to move away from compliance and conforming to celebrating students learning. No learning … no education going on says Ken Robinson. So how do educators best go about helping students learn?

Ken reminds us

  1. that human beings are naturally different and diverse
  2. to light the spark of curiosity
  3. to awaken and empower a culture of creativity
  4. to individualize teaching and learning

Listen to the rest of his talk here:

What do you think school is for?

Digital Citizenship: School Counsellors Can Take The Lead

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“Nothing leaves a deeper impact on students than actually allowing students to see proper social media usage modeled daily by respected adults (parents, teachers, administrators) and by allowing students to use social media properly in the actual space” says Nikki D Robertson in her article Don’t Ban Social Media.

Digital Citizenship becomes even more important daily as students and adults figure out what matters online. As School Counsellors you can take the lead in this area. If you know how to navigate and model proper social media usage , then you will be able to assist the students you serve to do so too.

I know for me learning all the ins and outs was not easy ( and still isn’t ) , but the lessons were so important for me to learn as a seasoned School Counsellor. I am here to say we are never too old to learn and we should indeed continue to discover and educate ourselves. Every day I continue to master new ideas and believe we must start early to teach all students and all staff about digital citizenship.

Daily online, I see school administrators, counsellors , teachers and students who do not understand the basic concept of  EVERYTHING ONLINE IS PUBLIC. Even if you believe it is private … it is not. Many fall into the trap of the Illusion of Privacy.

If you’d like more articles on digital citizenship you can check out my online School Counsellor Talk weekly here.

I hope to see many more School Counsellors take the lead when it comes to this most important area in a comprehensive school counselling program plan. Won’t you join me on this learning journey?

Lessons for A New School Counsellor

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What do I believe are some important lessons for a new School Counsellor to be aware of ? These lessons will not be in order of importance, but are all lessons I feel are worthwhile for you .

Lesson #1: We can’t help everyone, but we can sure try to help the ones that come to us or are referred to us (and yes sometimes we need to go to them).

Students will often disclose very serious issues that you as School Counsellors need to address. Sometimes when you disclose to parents that their son or daughter is thinking of suicide or some other life threatening concern (the end result might be the student may never return to see you). Hopefully you have connected the student and their family to resources that can improve and indeed in some cases save their lives.

It is important for you the new school counsellor to not get discouraged if a student does not return to see you (don’t personalize it). You may have helped the students tremendously and yes indeed you may even save their life,  but they will be unaware of just how at this present time in their life. Know that students have stopped me in stores and other places years later to let me know what a difference I made. So hang in there knowing that you did what you needed to do. It would be great to help all students , but unfortunately even if you do everything correct sometimes we lose a student and this will be absoltely devastating. So make sure you always debrief and get help for yourself.

It is also important to be self-aware, so always run by big concerns with another counsellor and see if indeed there was something else you could have done or ask what if anything could you have done differently. Remind yourself that you are in a process of learning.

Consult… consult… consult… a lifelong lesson for ALL School Counsellors.

It is also OK to recognize that you are NOT a match for every student. Hopefully there are other counsellors in your school or outside agencies that you can refer your student to if this happens. I let students know that they have a choice when it comes to counsellors and they need to see the person they feel most comfortable and safe with. Hopefully, that will be you , but if that is not so that is OK too.

Lesson # 2: We need to base what we do on theoretical perspectives that are useful and helpful. Humanists like Carl Rogers and Victor Frankl have impacted me, but so too have others in the field of psychology like Albert Ellis, Irvin Yalom, Fritz Perls, Ed JacobsDavid Burns, Virginia Satir, Donald Meichenbaum, Claudia Black

and Mary Pipher to name a few. There is no one right approach. You need to discover what you believe and make sure the theories work for you and your students.

Each theorist has impacted the way I interact and help students. Along the way I have also worked with some amazing school counsellors , educators and supervisors who have also influenced me in a positive way. Thanks especially to Ed Jacobs, Diane Williams, Deana Helton , Erin Mason , and Helen MacKinnon.

Lesson #3: Find great mentors and learn from them. One of my all time favorites is Ed Jacobs. Ed is a genuinely helpful man as well as being a great therapist. I love how he interacts and works with young and old people alike and makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Check him out on YouTube here:

 

Lesson #4: There are so many people and resources you can learn from that can impact students in a positive way. I think Leo Buscaglia  has the best lessons that can be used in counselling students. I can honestly say I loved Leo . He was and still is an inspiration to me. Which brings me to an extremely important lesson … lesson #5

Lesson #5: Continually professionally develop yourself. Keep learning and learning and learning. One of my new favorite ways to do this is to connect with other school counsellors worldwide on twitter. See my past post on amazing school counsellors and what they are doing. My twitter handle is @sspellmancann. If you are not on twitter sign up TODAY! Join us in #scchat on the first Wed. of every month at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET. Post to #scchat anytime and there is always great resources there for you to access for free.

Lesson #6: Read great counselling books . A few I really like are : Impact Therapy by Ed. Jacobs, Creative Counselling Techniques by Ed. Jacobs, Group Counseling Strategies and Skills Jacobs, Masson, Harvill, Letters To A Young Therapist Mary Pipher, The Gift of Therapy  Irvin Yalom, and Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

As I think about the lessons I believe a new counsellor should be thinking about I realize that there are some practical considerations that a new counsellor might want to implement. Here are a few:

What are some basics that could be helpful to you as a new school counsellor? 

  • Write an introduction letter to parents letting them know who you are and what you do and post it on the school counselling and school website. (If  by chance your school does not have a website design a letter introducing yourself and put it in the school newsletter ( put it in the newsletter anyway.Tweet this out to students on the school twitter account and post it to the school Facebook account.
  • If you engage on social media please remember that NOTHING is PRIVATE ( even if you think it is ).  Digital citizenship is a lesson we all need to learn.
  • Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time.
  • Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. Celebrate what you do and how you are doing. Discuss what the expectations are of a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan and how you can work together to accomplish this.
  • Counsellors and admin should be joint leaders in any school.
  • Show initiative. Everyone in a school will benefit. If you have some great ideas don’t be afraid to share or try out your ideas.
  • Discuss limits of confidentiality with every student. You might want to put a poster of the limits on your office wall.
  • Visually make your office a space students want to be in.
  • Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
  • Have a plan when meeting new students.  It is helpful to get a cell phone number so that you can follow-up.
  • It might be helpful to keep a notebook of all the things you need to know especially if you are in a new school or counselling a new age group.
  • You will want to find a simple and easy way to curate information. I use livebinders and pinterest. They can be extremely helpful tools for new counsellors as well as those that have been around for a while.
  • You need to be a positive PR person for the school counseling program , so find many ways to connect with students. Brainstorm with your colleagues ways to make connections with students so that they know who you are and what you do.
  • Connect with parents. Let them know through parent council or other means what you do.
  • Ask for help. You are not expected to know everything. Utilize the professionals inside and outside of your building for support.
  • Learn as you go about the many community resources that are available and put them in a binder or livebinder.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your innovative or creative ideas with your counselling team ( if you have one). They and you will benefit!
  • BALANCE we all benefit from taking care of ourselves. Don’t burn yourself out in the first year. Practice self-care.
  • You have a big learning curve. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.

I am adding one of my live binders called school counsellor resources. Please as in all my livebinders  take what you like and leave the rest.

For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.

My next Lessons for a new School Counsellor will be posted soon.

Welcome to the best profession in the world School Counselling.

It’s A New Day

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A month away from school and the realization has set in that I won’t be going back. I see all the posts from my fellow school counsellors ( most in the US who are starting already) and I so hope you have a phenomenal year. Know that you are about to make a difference this year, one that you may not get to realize until many years later. It is so great when students come back to tell you two or thirty plus years later what a difference you’ve made or those students who take the time to write a beautiful note. i treasure mine. Keep yours in a space you know you can go back to. They are a  great reminder  of why you chose this amazing profession.

My goals in this new chapter are many. It’s a new day to make a difference in a new way. You can read more here about why I want to keep my blog going. I will continue to co-moderate and keep #scchat going along with Erin Mason @ecmmason and Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong. So if you are looking for a great school counsellor chat . Join us most third Wednesday’s of each month. The first one for September will be Monday, September 11th at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET co moderated by Dr. Susan Fuller. Topic to be decided. Check out #scchat in September for more information. Most chats  after that will be on the first Wed.

It is a new day!  School Counsellors across the world , I am wishing that you have the best school year ever! Be kind to yourself and go out there and make a difference.

A gigantic thank you to those who have decided to help out with our chats. If I have missed anyone please DM me and I will add you.

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason                                  Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong              Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr                                Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC                             Pennsylvania
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers                        Vienna, VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya                            Northwest ISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski                          Battle Creek ,MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski                              Metairie, LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors                          Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor                   Columbia, MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS                            Biddeford, Maine
  12. Joanne Brisebois @BriseboisJoanne                    Calgary, Alberta
  13. Bridget Helms @bridgethelms                             Northwest, Indiana
  14. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann             Calgary, Alberta

School Counselling Will Always Hold A Special Place In My Heart

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It really is hard for me to believe that I have retired from a career I not only felt passionate about, but loved deeply. Well, it wasn’t the career so much as the students I worked with that continued to make a difference for me.

School Counsellors really have a multifaceted role which can be exhilerating and exhausting. They do save lives every year. Unfortunately sometimes even though they do their best they are unable to prevent student trauma. Trauma does and will continue to occur in schools.  I want to continue to support School Counsellors so that is why I will continue to co-moderate and help faciltate a School Counsellor chat #scchat

I want to thank those people that have decided to help co – facilitate our chats next year. YOU ROCK!:

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers Vienna VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya NorthwestISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski Battle Creek MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski Metairie LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor Columbia MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS Biddeford, Maine
  12. YOUR name here
  13. YOUR name here
  14. YOUR name here
  15. YOUR name here
  16. YOUR name here
  17. YOUR name here
  18. YOUR name here
  19. YOUR name here
  20. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann Calgary, Alberta

Erin , Erin HL  and I would like to get at least 20 people who are willing to co-moderate at least one chat ! We will put a how to video together soon so that you will feel comfortable in leading a chat . You can always ask Erin, Erin HL or I questions at anytime. If you have any ideas for topics please let us know.

I am also interested in featuring you in a blog post . So if you are a School Counsellor and interested please let me know.

School Counselling Matters and so do you!

 

13 Reasons I Personally Choose NOT to Watch 13 Reasons

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  1. Picking up the pieces. I work with so many vulnerable youth and one in particular convinced me to not watch.  This young person was incredibly triggered by watching the show and made me realize that I did not need to watch it in order to know the harm it could cause to those who are at risk.
  2. Was I curious?  Like most of you yes, and I do understand that it is compelling for both adults and youth to want to watch the series, but I also chose to not read the book years ago for some of the reasons I am about to discuss. For those who did watch … this is not a criticism, just a choice I want to make for my own reasons.
  3.  I think young people need to know that there are adults who while they may be very curious about the series will still choose to NOT watch . I know this show was NOT created to really help young people , otherwise they would have based the series on solid research around suicide,  how it is portrayed in media and the impact on youth.  I do realize the creators say they consulted with medical experts and had good intentions however, I do think they missed out on some valuable helpful information when it comes to suicide. Stan Kutcher , a Psychiatrist and mental health expert from Dalhousie University whom I respect believes the show could be dangerous to young people who choose to watch it.
  4. I do not need to see the show to be informed and personally I have NO desire to see a child die by suicide (even if it is television). Some things on TV are even too graphic for me.
  5. I choose not to be triggered by watching the show. I have worked with too many vulnerable youth. I know that I need to practice self-care . Watching this series is not going to make me a better parent , School Counsellor or Psychologist . Being able to discuss sensitive topics is essential and I believe I can do so without actually watching this series.
  6. I plan on reading as many articles as I can that give informed information that is helpful regarding the series .   The National Association of School Psychologists gives important information on how to do so responsibly.  Dialoguing and engaging youth in thoughtful conversations around sensitive topics is essential.  Yes, I certainly know a lot and I mean a lot have already chosen to watch and will watch this series , some will do so with their parents most I am guessing will watch on their own. Parents who watch can and will open a conversation that is useful and helpful with their child. I am just saying for me , I want students to know it is OK to not watch if they have not already done so.
  7. I want all people to know that suicide is complex. We are learning more and more about the brain . I am sure new research in the future will give us a better understanding of some of the complexities.
  8. I want students to know the protective factors, risk factors and warning signs of suicide. We have Canada Mental Health come in every year to speak to all our grade 10 High School Students.
  9. I want all students and adults to become more literate when it comes to mental health. All staff at our school are trained in the go to educator series. You might want to consider this for your school.
  10. I want students to know how to have better coping skills.
  11. This show is NOT hopeful . Students need HOPE in as many ways as possible.
  12. Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. THERE IS HELP!  If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, like your School Counsellor or call Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.
  13. School Counsellors across the world (#scchat) work very hard to let others know that they work diligently daily to help and serve students . They do save lives . They may possibly be the unsung hero in a child’s life , but that is not often the way they are depicted on tv or in movies and from what I have read definitely not in this series.   There are also lots of other people who do like parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and friends. I want youth to reach out and keep asking for help until someone they trust makes that difference. WE DO CARE!!!!!

The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone. This is my choice and although I listed 13 reasons I could have listed many more. I do not regret my decision. I know it is best for me.

RESOURCES:

Canada Mental Health responding to Netflix series .

Personal Wellness livebinders : Several topics and resources can be found here .

For Educators Teen Mental Health teenmentalhealth.org

Connect Teen: 24 hour support 403.264 TEEN Link to website.

Kids Help Phone: A space for you. Link to  website

Police / Emergency : 911

Teen mental health Reasons To Live

I love this short video that our wellness team put together for our  Jack Summit .