Every September I forget just how unbelievably busy a school can be and most school counsellors are not just counselling they have several other responsibilities. That is an important lesson for all school counsellors. Be aware of all that you may be asked to do.
Here are some new lessons. Lessons 1-6 are here.
Be patient with yourself. It takes time to learn all the things you have to know as a school counsellor and often times you have several roles to play. You may be in a classroom part time teaching and attempting to do a full time job at counselling even though you are half time counselling /half time teaching. You can’t do and be everything for everybody.
Lists help. Having lists will help you do and follow up on all the activities you are responsible for.
Technology helps. This year we have a master calendar for all our counselling activities on Outlook. Each calendar is synched with our counselling Admin. Assistant and she makes sure it is coordinated. We discuss our monthly activities in our weekly Counselling team meetings. This keeps us all on track and aware of what is happening. We utilize technology in numerous ways in which I will discuss over the course of the school year.
This year in September we held three different seminars . One on Digital Citizenship, four on Counselling and one on scholarship information for students in grade 12 . Throughout the year we will offer several more.
The first was held at our grade 10 retreat with four hundred new grade 10’s and I will post more on that later.
The second was held in our computer room where we discussed :
- What school counsellors do
- What services we offer
- Confidentiality and the limits
- Resources we have available like our school counselling website, our counselling course that we offer on D2L, our school twitter site and our school facebook page
The third will be held in the computer lab with access to a fantastic livebinder.
Here are some links you may get some ideas from:
Scholarships, Student Loans, Occupational Information livebinders.com/play/play/830830
All school counsellors should be trained in suicide prevention and if they are not they should be trained in their Masters programs. School Counsellors often have to assess for the risk of suicide. Yes, even in the first few days of school when students are back in September. School Counsellors need to be prepared to ask for assistance if they are not trained. This is not something you should handle alone. It can be very scary when a student says they are thinking about suicide and you are not trained to know what to do. Even when you are trained well it can feel overwhelming and so it is important to debrief with another counsellor. In our district all school counselors have to train every two years as well as do a refresher course. This is so important for our students at risk. School counsellors can and do save lives.
As I reflect on the work we do, I think about what we do and how important our role as school counsellors are. Exhausting at times, but so worthwhile. To all new counsellors hang in there. It is and has been the most rewarding career for me. I still love what I do in year 33.
Marc’s reflection on his first weeks as a high school counsellor:
Starting a practicum placement is intimidating. I am fighting the presence of ‘imposter syndrome’, feeling somewhat ill-prepared and anxious, hoping that my lack of experience is not apparent to the students or staff in my words or behaviour. I am fortunate to be in a familiar environment with a supportive supervisor and colleagues, but it will take time to feel comfortable and confident.
It’s been a steep learning curve at my practicum placement. At first, I was frustrated because the established counsellors were busy with a full schedule of student clients, while I had a slow trickle.
While I recognized that some students may prefer a veteran counsellor, I soon realised this disparity in appointments was primarily due to the students’ unfamiliarity with me, rather than an indication of their perception of my competence or a sneak preview of my upcoming caseload. The number of students coming for appointments has picked up, but I have come to appreciate any opportunity I have to reflect, consult, complete documentation, or catch up on additional work. Further, after having an experience assessing an at-risk student, I’ve learned that a gradual immersion into client contact allows me to build competence and confidence at a comfortable pace. I was not ready to assess this particular client, and missed several key aspects of the necessary process. It was a good learning experience, helping me to remember the importance of policy and training, but also to pace myself and appreciate any lighter schedules.