You Can Never Have Enough Coping Skills … Ideas from A-Z

img_3104Coping Skills are always important . When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: How You Cope depends On What You Have To Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you is vital to your well being. Check out my A- Z Coping skills. Source: Coping Skills Just 4 You for Teens Ideas from A-Z

The Heart of A Community

Our students always inspire me. I am so fortunate to work in a community that encourages creativity in all forms. The people I work with also give their heart and soul to all they do. Thanks to our wonderful Art teacher Sheila Stacey and Counsellor Erin Luong for collaborating on this fun project full of heart.

One of the innovative projects I am pleased to work on this year involves a collaboration between myself, another counselling colleague and our art teacher. BCHS Spectrum Club’s mission is to bring people together and spread a message of love and acceptance. Our aim is to educate and bring awareness to students while expanding our […]

via Heart of A Community: BCHS Students Fill Their Hearts — Erin Luong’s Reflections on Counselling, Education, Leadership and Technology

Powerful School Counselling Voices Across the World

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I have been an educator since 1980 and a School Counsellor since 1999, but never have I been so passionate about School Counsellors across the world having a collective voice for the students we serve as well as being a support for each other. As I get ready for retirement I am no less passionate about what I do and what we do in this profession.

Advocate

I am so hoping during Canadian School Counselling Week and National School Counselling Week #NSCW17 that others across the world will step up and let us hear their voice. Be an advocate for this profession. A special thank you to my American colleagues who often step up to be heard and have made transformative changes in attitudes and practice for School Counselors.

There are so many ways to do this .

  • Speak up in your district
  • Take on leadership roles at the district, local , provincial, state, and national levels
  • Get someone like Michelle Obama to be an advocate for you “School Counselors You Are Heroes”
  • Post ideas on twitter, facebook, instagram
  • Blog, vlog, and/ or podcasts
  • Share your BIG ideas on advocacy
  • Share, share, share (we are better together)

Believe 

  • You can make a difference
  • You do make a difference
  • You can make change
  • You can stand up for students and your profession

Collaborate

I am a better person because I collaborate  with other School Counsellors. Collaborate with others in your own school, others on-line and others who are and are not educators who all want the same thing a better life for our students.

Let your voice be heard. There are so many counsellors who are focused, determined and willing to give hope to School Counsellors and their students. I would love to see more School Counsellors from across the world STAND UP,  SPEAK OUT, and  SHARE your wonderful knowledge to others across the world who care as much as you do.

You can if we collaborate with others and one of the best ways to do that is to join us each month as we chat on-line using the hashtag #SCCHAT

Celebrate:

Celebrate what you do  with students. Celebrate other School Counsellors and educators every chance you can.

Most importantly be grateful for all those who work together to make this a better profession. The unheard heroes who work tirelessly everyday to be the best School Counsellors they can be.

Those who:

  • help the most vulnerable of our populations
  • that go the extra mile in the caring department
  • assist students across the finish line of graduation
  • do small things that matter , but they never find out until years later
  • save lives, but are silent
  • spread HOPE daily

Remember you are that leader. Don’t wait to be asked , take action TODAY! Yes you,  no matter where you are a School Counsellor in the world ,YOU have a vimg_5570oice. Don’t just listen … be that voice so that together we can make not only the positive changes in our own communities that we want , but maybe we can make a change and a difference for some child somewhere in another part of the world that we never imagined we would.

TOP SCHOOL COUNSELLORS TO FOLLOW : here

Celebrate:

Worth saying again:

Celebrate what you do with students. Celebrate other School Counsellors and educators every chance you can.

Maritimers …stepping up to help

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One of the most stressful things School Counsellors ever have to do is assist a student who is contemplating suicide. We never want a child to feel so hopeless that they feel that there is no reason left  to live.

So I recognize how much courage it takes for a person that it is not in this profession to help when something so serious happens.  A gigantic thanks to two very courageous Maritimers who stepped up to help . Thanks Robbie for letting me share your story.

Robbie’s Story …
As most of you know, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on March 1, 2012. That was the day I was able to help a young man from taking his own life.
It was just after 1 o’clock on a clear, but very cold day. I was pulling into my parking spot situated on the top level of the parkade. I noticed a young person sitting on the wrong side of the railing. To be honest, my first reaction was to grab my phone and take a picture of the young man who I would later know as (Stephen). I just thought he was a thrill seeker. He was texting on his phone,dressed in a warm coat with a hoodie underneath, and the hood pulled up over his head. I could not see his face as his back was towards me. As a matter of fact, I only got to see his face three times over the course of the next 25 minutes.
Just as I was about to take his picture (I’m still thinking he is young and cocky for sitting on the wrong side of the railing) he starts to turn his body slowly around. I start to panic and lower my phone so he wouldn’t see me taking his photo. His head moved very slowly back around, facing away from me. I never saw his face.
I was in a rush to get back to my office, so jumped out of my truck and headed to the stairs in the corner of the parkade. To this day I don’t know why I stopped short but things just weren’t adding up. I could tell he lived on the street. His clothes were very dirty and the speed his head was moving was very slow. It was freezing at -15, so I stopped and turned around.I walked slowly up to him and asked, “Are you ok?” No response. I asked him again. No response. I am about 15 feet away from him on his left side. I ask once more and he responds in a slurred voice, “Nobody cares”. My first thought when he said that was … oh my god, we’ve got a jumper! It went through my head just like the movie Old School.
Surprisingly I stayed very calm, plus he couldn’t see my face when I first realized he was going to take his own life. It wasn’t hard to tell drugs were at play as well. Not sure what to do after he responded, I moved closer to him. This is when my heart dropped. He shuffled across a four inch concrete ledge away from me. You or I couldn’t do what he did sober, let alone high on drugs. The positive thing was he stopped by a column and could put his hand on it to support himself if needed. He was shaking very bad and would act like he was going to jump two or three times.

I just kept asking him questions.
“What is your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Do you miss home?”
“Do you miss water?”
Every question I asked him and he wouldn’t answer, I would answer myself.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Robbie.”
“Do you miss water?”
“I miss water, I’m from the east coast.”
For every 10 questions I asked, I would get about 1 answer in return, but we were starting to make a small connection. Finally he turned his head to see who was asking him all the questions and why. Then he turned away, but started answering a few of the question.
“What’s your name?’
“Stephen.”
“Where are you from?”
“The coast.” He slurred.
“What coast?”
“B.C.”
“Do you miss the water?” He turned slowly once more to look at me. This was the first time I saw his face. When all this was going on, I tried to get the attention of three cars that went by to call 911 for help, but no one stopped until Marty, a great guy from the Maritimes. He quickly realized what was going on and parked. I kept waiving at him to call 911, which he does. He walks slowly up and joins me and we both try to convince Stephen it’s not worth it. More time goes by and Marty and I are frozen, and so is Stephen. I was so scared he would fall, let alone jump. The parkade security showed up, but their radios were freaking Stephen out and he would start to shake as he was going to jump. We waved them to stay back a long distance.

The police also showed up and also stayed back with security. It was just the three of us. Marty and I took turns talking to Stephen and finally as I was telling him how cold it was, he just slowly reached his arm straight back as if to say, Ok, I’m done.
In a split second Marty and I had a hold of him and pulled him back over. Weird but at no time did I think we would drop him. I had the tightest grip ever on him, and so did Marty. From that moment, the police took over and got him downstairs and outside to the ambulance. I noticed when we pulled Stephen over, his phone fell on the ground. I grabbed it and looked at his last text. It was from his mother asking “are you ok?????” My heart broke,  but I got the police to call her right away. Turns out Stephen wouldn’t cooperate with the police unless I was there, so I sat with him until they got the information they needed. He left in an ambulance and I never saw him again.

I’m very grateful. for how this story ended  …  here is more of my story

For a better part of my life I have battled and struggled with anxiety and depression. Throw ADHD on that and you have a wound-up-top on a rollercoaster.Depression is something you hide easy. All you have to do it smile.

That day when Stephen and I were together, we made a connection. We both missed water, but I also made my own connection with him. The only difference between us was I was wearing a nice suit and he was wearing a dirty coat someone gave to him. I knew exactly what was going through his head.

  • Depression doesn’t know if you have a good job.
  • Depression doesn’t know where you live.
  • Depression doesn’t care if you are a good person or not.

I am very fortunate to have the best support people I could ever ask for. Two parents that are there for me for life and a wife that unconditionally loves and supports me. The one thing that’s harder to deal with than depression itself is to be married to someone that battles depression. So I am truly grateful for the support.
Don’t think that having depression slows me down. I have a saying “keep your feet moving” which I do very well. This doesn’t’ mean I don’t need help sometimes and it doesn’t mean I’m weak.
I think about many friends Mark and Colin, Felicity and family, Chad, Colette and family, Lori and her girls and their commonality is that they’ve all lost someone special. Someone that you never thought would take their own life. Someone that will never be replaced. Someone they loved very much.
They also gave me the courage to speak out and that it’s OK to talk about mental illness and depression. There probably will never be a cure for mental illness, but we always can be there for others. My father made a comment to me one time;
“Robbie, it doesn’t’ cost anything to care”.
Please understand that most people have some sort of struggle in life. Acknowledging and talking about it helps. Trust me, the best thing to do is to talk to someone who won’t judge you and who cares. They will never understand what you are truly going through, but can always offer love and support.

Robbie

Robbie thanks for being you and allowing me to share your story #bellletstalk  . I am sure someone reading this will understand that there are caring people like you and Marty who are willing to reach out to another human being when needed . I truly hope Stephen is alive and gets to read this some day knowing that two Maritimers who both live in Calgary were willing to step up to help.

ACCESS Mental Health
Provides mental health information and service options
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 7:00p.m.
Telephone: 943-1500 (voicemail after hours)
Email: mental.health@albertahealthservices.ca

Health Link Alberta
Access to nurse advice and health information
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 943-LINK (5465) Calgary or 1-866-408-5465 (Toll Free)
Website: http://www.healthlinkalberta.ca

Inform Alberta
General info about community, health, social, and government services across the province
Telephone: 2-1-1
Website: http://www.informalberta.ca

 

Adolescents and Trauma

 

Trauma has adverse affects that can have an long term consequences. We need to help youth recognize that:

  • Abuse is not their fault
  • They can be kind to others, but more importantly they need be kind to themselves
  • Connections count
  • Having a positive social network makes a difference
  • Mistakes are a part of a learning process
  • Positive self-talk can help
  • Learning how to make healthy relationship choices is an asset
  • Reaching out for help is a strength not a weakness

Bruce Perry a leading psychiatrist on child trauma has said that trauma is held in every cell of the body. It is no wonder children often have difficulties coping years later.

Thanks to Sheldon Kennedy for taking a stand when it comes to youth and trauma. His story will help millions. His courage will help young men and women to never feel like they are alone.

If you aren’t sure who Sheldon is then you must watch his movie and hopefully you will be inspired to help others understand they are not alone and that life can be very different once they receive the help they deserve.

 

 

 

PROVIDING HOPE : Making a Difference in Students Lives

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Thanks so much for coming to my session today HOPE  for the United Way’s All In For Youth  and especially to Joan Gauthier for inviting me.

Hope is Everything. 

Shane Lopez fron the University of Kansas @hopemonger in his book Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want For Yourself and Others discusses the 4 core beliefs that hopeful people share :

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it so
  3. There are many paths to my goals
  4. None of them is free of obstacles

I discuss this with my students and let them know they matter. I hope you do too! We need to help students find the many pathways to reaching their goals and having hope.

Help students :

  • Edit down their goals to 2-3 specific ones.
  • See that HOPE is hard work and they can and do have the power to be hopeful.
  • See that obstacles are challenges that they can overcome and help them recognize that it’s ok to seek support from others.
  • Find what they excited and passionate about and encourage them to do more of those things.
  • Identify things they are good at and assist them in capturing the enthusiasm to pursue those things.
  • Find other hopeful people. Encourage them to suround themselves with hopeful people.
  • Seek the courage to keep going and understand that just because they fail they are not a failure.
  • To not just survive , but thrive
  • Fee and strengthen their mind.
  • Develop positive self talk.
  • Seek images of HOPE.
  • Give students blue ribbons  and have them pass it on to others.
  • Stay in the game.Find reasons to Never give up.

I also believe in the power of  touch and as I said today I  think we should bring back HUGS in schools. I recognize that some people don’t want to be touched and we need to set boundaries and respect that , but for the most part kids need HUGS. they are healing.

HAPPINESS is so important when it comes to HOPE. it is hard to be hopeful without being happy. To be truly happy according to researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky there are two components to happiness:

  1. positive emotions
  2. a sense that life is good

Scientists know that there is a genetic component to happiness, however students need to learn that happiness is also under their control . Helping students learn to be more grateful and show acts of kindness can lead to greater happiness. Happier people are better leaders, more creative and more productive so assisting students to learn how to be happier should be a priority.

You too can provide HOPE .

H appiness

Tom Bodett says a person needs three things to be truly happy in life. 1. Someone to love. 2. Something to do and 3. Something to HOPE for .

O pen

“Be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.” … “Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity.” – Parker Palmer

When we are open to new ideas to changing our mindset and shifting our thoughts to be more hopeful we can begin to recognize that we truly do matter in life . we do have a purpose.

P assion

As an educator it is essential that you live your passion and help students to find what theirs is.

E veryone has a story.

Find out what it is and celebrate them.

A MOOC I  took on happiness that I really enjoyed was the The Science of Happiness  You may wish to take it too.

I want you to know that YOU can and DO make a difference . Everything you say and do matters. All In For Youth. I am grateful you do what you do every day because YOU provide HOPE. Need some more tips check out my list of A-Z Coping Skills. You can find many more resources for you here.

I want YOU to go on a HOPE search . Look for HOPE everywhere and first and foremost BE RIDICULOUSLY HOPEFUL yourself.

Let’s #bringbackhugs and pass on HOPE to others.

 

The Alberta Family Wellness initiative has great resources. You may wish to be Brain Story Certified . It’s free click  here .

So may great educators at ALL in for YOUTH today. Truly thanks for all you do and spreading hope wherever you go. Thanks also to the Palix Foundation for doing such amazing work.

#bellletstalk

 

Love Leadership and School Counselling

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YOU are a leader ! What you say and do does matter .Technology can assist you in being an amazing leader who reaches the whole school population.

Technology is also a very important part of students lives today and will be even more prevalent in the future. School Counsellors can find a way to incorporate exciting new practices into their School Counselling programs. These changes can inspire not only your students , but they can help and inspire YOU the School Counsellor as well.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation on LOVE LEADERSHIP and SCHOOL COUNSELLING for the ATA Council for School Counsellors Conference. This blog is written just for you so you can look back and enjoy the resources , but I know if you were an attendee this all makes much more sense to you and you got a few freebies besides. Thanks for being there. I appreciate you giving of your valuable time.

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If I can learn to use technology as a seasoned School Counsellor, you can too.  I love technology and think it is essential to present and future School Counsellors. Why? Because it allows us to connect with students in their space as well as allows us an opportunity to connect to the whole school population. Of course there will always be a place and a space for meeting and connecting with students individually, but it is also extremely important to reach as many students as possible and that can be done through the use of technology.

Technology also allows us to develop a PLN with people from all around the world. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to connect with not only School Counsellors who are passionate, but also with other educators who use technology to assist them in improving and reflecting on what it is they do for students. Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason my friend is an amazing leader when it comes to School Counsellors utilizing and creating ideas with technology and you were lucky enough to connect with her at this conference. Check out her SCOPE page if you haven’t already.I am so happy she is at this conference.

So, conference participants enjoy.  Meeting , connecting , sharing and helping you is what I hope to do to pay it forward for all that has been given to me. The rest of this blog will be about the resources I think you as School Counsellors can use to make a difference.

#1 is Twitter so I encourage you to get an account today. It will transform your life and the life of your future students if used properly. Twitter is where it all began for me and then ETMOOC changed the way I offered parts of my School Counselling program. A special thanks to Alec Couros @courosa Ed tech professor extraordinaire and social media expert at the University of Regina. You will want to follow him and his brother George @gcouros a leader and fabulous administrator on twitter.

Advantages of twitter:

  • It allows for opportunities to connect, collaborate, share and learn from and with people from all over the world.
  • I have used Twitter and Google docs to collaborate with other School Counsellors and educators who have wanted to contribute to Mental Health in High School as well as many other projects.
  • Using the hashtags #SCCrowd and #scchat as well as some other great chats allows us to connect with School Counselling professionals who are more than willing to help us as we continue to work with and make a difference for students.
    School Counsellor chat schedule
  • The instant anytime access allows me to get information or resources that I can utilize in an open manner which not only helps me , but may help others.
  • It also allows us a voice for reaching out to others to let them know that what we do matters.

Check out this post by University of Regina President Vianne Timmons saying School Counsellors Change and Save Lives click here.

This post has had thousands of  people who have seen it. Social media can reach people quickly.

  • Twitter allows you as a School Counsellor to share and help other School Counsellors, School Counselling students and educators.
  • If you want to learn more about School Counsellors observe their twitter accounts. Please follow them using the hashtags you saw above #scchat #sccrowd and #escchat . You’ll get a good sense of how you too can be a positive digital citizen and model this for your future students.

Ask for help. Other School Counsellors and educators are always willing to help you. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to ask.

One of the best ways you can find the best tech tools to use as a School Counsellor is to check out SCOPE School Counselor Online Professional Exchange. Spend some time there. It will be worth your time and effort.

#2 Haiku Deck As a School Counsellor you will have to give presentations or you may wish to share ideas or messages with students that you think are important. Haiku Deck @haikudeck is my number one go to app. It has a creative commons license built within the app that allows a visual experience that is like none other.
The power of social media to touch others is absolutely amazing. This simple @haikudeck on Who Matters? has had over 80,000 views . One never knows the impact a simple gesture can have online and off.

#3 Livebinders I love to use livebinders to organize and share useful School Counselling information. At Bishop Carroll High School we use livebinders to share large amounts of important information with students in a single space.

Here are two of our livebinders co-created by our School Counselling team Erin Luong @ehordyskiluong , Peter Damen and I :

Post Secondary Planning here
This Personal Wellness livebinder here

#4 Smore

There are so many benefits for using smores. Check out my smore with resources on LEADERSHIP here.

#5 iMovie / YouTube I use iMovie more and more to present to students information that I think will be helpful to them. Dean Shareski , a Canadian educator said once and it has stayed with me video trumps text, so I try to use video as much as possible to create information students can relate to and then upload the iMovie to YouTube. I do this all on my iPhone which makes things very easy for me.

 

 

#6 Blogs

Blogs are a great tool to create, connect and learn from others. For me creating blogs still requires a great deal of effort as I am still learning, but today’s example is a great way of sharing information with others from far away. I started my blog in May of 2013. It has had over 15,000 views from over 105 countries.

SCOPE blog
Check out the blog roll of School Counselors.
#7 Google docs are an amazing way to collaborate. I collaborate with our students on our Wellness committee and our Who’s Frank? team.

#8 Pinterest is a fabulous way to collate information and gather information for future use. I love the visual aspect of pinterest.Pinterest does indeed inspire creativity . I have used it for many things including creating School Counselling bulletin boards as well as for ideas for presentations.

#9 Google hangouts

Again, yet another great way to connect with School Counsellors and educators from across the world.

The Future of School Counselling Google Hangout

The Future of School Counselling

You can see that I use multiple tools in multiple ways to help me do a variety of things that help not only School Counsellors , but students as well. Three years ago I did not know how to do any of this so … if I can you can too.

Be the leader you HOPE others will BE.