Here is the latest edition of our newsletter with tips for new School Counselors, group and individual counseling support, tech tips, and more!
A peek inside. Read a few of the articles below, or download the PDF to see the full newsletter!
School Counselors are Tough Cookies
It feels almost like a broken record speaking about being in uncertain times as I feel like times have been uncertain for quite a long time...
School counselors are tough cookies. They are resilient and they are flexible, which are amazing skills to have, especially now! So much of your day-to-day work looks different than most are used to.
This does not mean that your job is different. School Counselors are still able to do their job whether they are in person or online. Some may argue that it is better to be in person with students. I have even heard, 'How could you possibly be a counselor from a distance, it's impossible!'
I have to disagree because I know that School Counselors are able to do their jobs from a far and sometimes, even do a better job. The thing to remember as we really get into this school year, is that you are a School Counselor whether you have the roof of your school over your head or not, you have a very important job!
You are capable of doing this job and if you can allow yourself to be creative, to be flexible, and to give yourself and those around you a little extra grace this year, you will be able to reach all of your goals and exceed your own expectations.
Tips for New School Counselors
You’re a School Counselor! You have survived the first weeks of school so, first and foremost congratulations! You are now embarking on the most incredible profession ever! Your education, your experiences, your hard work, and your love has brought you to this very moment and you should be very proud of yourself! I’m proud of you!
Here are some top tips for new School Counselors who are ready to make a change, to rock this school year!
Tip number one, find yourself in your work. What I mean by this is to make sure that you are incorporating your personality along with your Counseling Program. Whether you are the only Counselor in the building or you are a team member, make sure that you bring yourself to the table.Your interests, your passions, maybe you love baking or traveling or dancing, find a way to incorporate this in your Counseling.Not only will this keep you excited about your job, but it will also help your students and your staff members to connect with you on a different level which is really important for the beginning stages of building relationships inside your school.
The next tip for new School Counselors, would be to make sure you keep yourself open while maintaining boundaries. Oh that’s a tricky balance but one thing to keep in mind is that as a new School Counselor, people are going to have certain expectations of you based on what they know about School Counseling and/or what the previous School Counselor did. You really have an opportunity to come in and share who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re not about! Making this clear from the beginning will definitely set the tone for the year and will make sure that everyone is on the same page. As for keeping yourself open, this mostly refers to being available or being present and being in the mix. You want to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse of all that is happening around the school.
Remember, why you’re there. Remember why you went through school and internships and exams, and all the work that you’ve done to become a School Counselor. Ask yourself these questions- Why did you want to do this job? What was it that drew you to this moment?
If there is a phrase or a mission statement or a mantra or an affirmation that you can keep near you at work to remind you of this, print it out or make it your screen saver!
This way, when things get a little fuzzy, because they will, you can look back and say okay this is the whole point, this is why I’m here!
With starting anything new you have to know there is a learning curve and what you learned in school and what you experienced in your internships may be completely different from what you’re experiencing in the school building or virtually.
Just remember that you don’t have to know it all, and that you will spend a lot of this year learning, growing, developing, and really building relationships with your students, and staff.
YOU GOT THIS!
Individual and Group Counseling
Individual and group counseling are part of the job for School Counselors and there are many ways to begin these types of counseling sessions with students.
Here are some pointers and ideas for getting started with these this year.
One thing to get the ball rolling with starting counseling sessions with students is to do a needs assessment to gauge where your school and students need the most support.
I recommend creating a needs assessment for teachers and staff, one for students, and one for parents. Send these out or even send a link to them in a newsletter.
Now that you have introduced yourself as the School Counselor, you let parents, families, and staff know what you do, you can share with them that you are available for individual and group counseling. By them completing the survey or the needs assessment, this will provide you with the best information for how you can better support your students.
Teachers and staff can also chime in on the surveys to give their perspective of needs and what students my be struggling with.
Another thing that could even be added to the newsletter or to the needs assessment is a permission slip to basically say,
"If you’re interested in having your student participate in individual or group counseling please fill out this form."
Then the parent/guardian can sign off on it giving permission for you to work with their students once you start these groups.
Of course there should always be communication with families about which groups and individual sessions you are having, how long they are for, and how you are not a long-term therapist for the students, but that you can help them for a brief time.
If they feel further therapy is necessary you can provide them with resources to follow up with if necessary.
See sample permission slips below or edit and download a copy of your own by accessing our VSC shared Google Drive (Free Membership grants access to the Google Drive).
The Struggle is Real
School Counselors all across the nation, online and in person are going through it! I see you, I hear you and I am here to say, that sometimes, things are just plain hard. Sometimes, things just suck! I will be the first to admit that I am an incredibly positive person. I am a problem solver, I always try to find the good, or the lesson, or anyway to spin a situation and make it okay. I know that self care tips and inspirational quotes can only do so much, and sometimes I just need to embrace the suck. Give it some time to not feel great, and to be okay with that. I know that there are many challenges in schools, and School Counselors are being pulled in every direction. Ultimately, being a School Counselor, you already wear many, many hats, and now it feels more and more overwhelming. If you are like so many other School Counselors struggling, know that you are not alone, and that it is okay not to be okay. You don't have to have all of the answers, and that's okay too. If self care and inspirational quotes work for you, awesome, because I will continue to share those. Just know, that you do not have to put on a show. Give yourself permission to be true to yourself and to your feelings.
Download the PDF to read more from this VSC Newsletter!