Counseling Craftivities

Confident Conversations

Facilitating Psychoeducational Groups in Schools

planning and facilitating a psychoeducational group as part of a comprehensive school counseling program

One of my professional goals for this year is to keep refining my school counseling support groups. To do this, I’ve been compiling the latest and greatest best practice psychoeducational group counseling tips and techniques. Now, I’d like to share this essential group counseling information with you!

 

So, let’s start off with a definition- what exactly is a school counseling support group? A student support group is a planned, repeated gathering of 5-10 students who work to learn, apply, or master a skill. However, for the purpose of this post, a school counseling support group is psychoeducational in nature and is led by a mental health professional who helps members gain information and develop skills for challenging situations through education-based techniques. Read More »

Group Counseling

How do you keep a healthy work-life balance?

We talk about self-care and work-life balance a lot on Confident Counselors, and for good reason. This is a tough job that comes with a lot of rewards. BUT if you aren’t thoughtful about caring for yourself, you not only won’t be able to effectively care for others, you will burn out. #realtalk.

 

Three Confident Counselors, including myself, share how we care for ourselves and keep our boundaries around work.

 

Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor

I have learned keeping a healthy work-life balance has made be a better version of myself, allowing me to better care for everyone else. I maintain a healthy work/life balance by doing three things.

 

Leaving work at an appropriate time.

There is always so much that needs to be done; at some point, you have to shut your work brain down and go home. When you leave, you have to leave behind the job and all that comes with it. I find that going for a walk before I go home helps me leave the work baggage at the door. Read More »

Career Stress, Monthly CCC Tips

Handling Uncomfortable Conversations with Staff and Parents

uncomfortable conversations with staff and parents are a part of school counselor's jobs. A few tips to make these awkward, but important conversations easier.

I have a saying, “If it’s uncomfortable, give it to the counselor.”

 

Any time that an awkward or uncomfortable conversation needs to take place with a parent, staff member, or volunteer, counselors are called to use our skills to smooth the way for those involved.

 

Uncomfortable conversations include discussing parenting skills, classroom management, disclosing abuse, or speaking with a parent about their child’s suicidal ideation. Sometimes uncomfortable conversations escalate and become uncomfortable for you as the counselor. Read More »

Career Stress, Parents, School Culture, Teacher Consultation

4 Easy Ways to Promote National School Counseling Week

Advocating for National School Counseling Week

One week per year, school counselors from around the nation, find ways to spread the word about how school counselors positively impact their schools. National School Counseling Week (NSCW) is a week to celebrate the profession.

 

The American School Counseling Association, or ASCA, has created this week to advocate for the importance of our profession. It is not about being self-boasting. Instead, it is a necessary deed to inform your school of your impact on the school and community. Don’t be shy. Be Confident!

 

4 easy ways to advocate for the school counseling profession

 

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Post signs and design bulletin boards showcasing the many reasons why students could see the counselor and a reminder of where your room is located.

 

I use a colorful banner with a different reason to see the counselor on each pennant. I post those at the front of each hallway. It’s always fun to watch the students reading these as they walk through the hallways.

 

Show me the data!

Use data to show off the difference you are making in your school. Using a powerpoint or keynote presentation, you can show before and after reports from test scores, attendance records, grade reports or other student data that has been positively affected by your interventions. The changes shown in those reports will be a real eye-opener for the effectiveness of your program.

 

Explain that you use standards-based lessons recommended by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). Yes, for those who may not know at your school, counselors do have nationally recognized, research-based standards.

 

Freebies

Everybody likes getting something for free. There are many inexpensive items that you can either make with your school printer or purchase from an online promotional products website.

 

Set up a table in a centralized location in the school with helium balloons from the dollar store and prizes to attract students to the table. This could be as simple as a bookmark with your information on it, a silicone wristband with a mindful message embossed on it or an edible treat. If you ask your principal or parent organization, they may give you funding for these purchases.

 

Theme days

Have a different theme for each day during National School Counseling Week. Themes could center around social-emotional, career, and academic success. An example of a theme week could look something like the following below. However, you would want to tailor yours based on the needs of your school by reviewing the needs assessment or student survey from the beginning of the school year.

 

Monday – Career Readiness

Give away handouts with career exploration tips and helpful websites for career matching during lunch periods. Have a poster display up with trending new career options.

 

You could also create a jobs bulletin board showcasing some of the past jobs of current teachers at your school. This is a fun way to get students thinking about their future.

 

Tuesday – Study Skills

Hand out pencils or post it pads with study skills tips printed on them.

 

Wednesday – Stress Busters

Give out bookmarks with tips for reducing stress and examples of simple breathing exercises.

 

Thursday – Kindness

Post signs with suggestions for spreading kindness. Send teachers an easy kindness craft to complete with students.  An example would be spreading kindness with post it notes.  Have students write compliments on post it notes and put them throughout the school on lockers, desks, and doors.

 

Friday – Cyber Safety

Have students pledge to stay cyber safe and create healthy limits for their technology usage. Let them sign an oversized poster in the hallway. Include tips on a worksheet on how to be cautious online and how to set healthy technology boundaries and time usage limits.

 

I hope these tips were helpful for you and motivate you to spread the word about the importance of the school counseling profession. Please leave a comment with how you celebrate National School Counseling Week.

 

Check our Confident Counselors’ advice for advocating for your role.

 

National School Counseling Week

 

Advocacy

What’s the secret for successful small group counseling?

Secrete to making small group counseling effective

Small group counseling is an essential part of a school counselor’s role, and boy is it tough. Facilitating useful small groups goes beyond meeting over lunch. Some confident counselors have tips for how they keep things purposeful, effective, and fun.

Know Your Purpose

The Middle School CounselorI get asked this question all the time, especially since I have written several small group curriculum that have been published. There isn’t just one secret, there are several.

 

First, it is important to have a purpose. Too many times I hear that counselors just want to meet during lunch with a group of students. There needs to be more of a purpose. What is your why? Determining this will give you a goal and will drive the work that goes on in the group. Read More »

Group Counseling, Monthly CCC Tips

How to Use Peer Mentoring in School Counseling

Peer mentoring as part of your school counseling program. Consider your school's needs.

School counselors use peer mentoring in a variety of ways. It is a little scary to think about students mentoring other students around the same age. However, students are likely to share concerns or problems with peers than their parents or other adults at school. To ease your reluctance to use peer mentoring, read ASCA’s position statement on peer support programs.

 

Considerations for Peer Mentoring

Before you get started, there are several things to consider with peer mentoring programs.

 

Most importantly, how will mentoring help reach your program goals? Develop a plan that will help you accomplish your goals. Read More »

Uncategorized

Using Mindfulness In School Counseling

These mindfulness resources and strategies are great additions to your individual, small group and classroom counseling lessons.

Mindfulness is popping up everywhere nowadays. As a school based counselor, teaching students to focus on the present moment and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way seems like a dream. Better yet, there is research to prove that it can decrease behavioral problems, decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, and increase working memory capacity.

 

If you are like I was, you think the idea of using mindfulness in your school counseling program is great, but then you ask yourself how. How do I introduce and teach this complex concept to my little learners? Is there a way to integrate it into the lessons and activities I am already doing? The task seems daunting. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you incorporate this important practice into the groups and lessons you do every day! Read More »

Group Counseling, Mindfulness

How do you use technology in school counseling?

How do you integrate technology into school counseling? Do you use digital games? SMARTBoard? progress monitoring apps?

Incorporating technology in school counseling can really engage students, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to use it in simple ways. Some Confident Counselors have great suggestions for how they use tech to improve their lessons and keep themselves organized.

 

How have you been using technology as a school counselor?

Engaging, Smooth Lessons

The Sunny Sunshine Student Support StoreI have found my students are more engaged in classroom lessons and group counseling sessions when I incorporate technology. I have updated many of my lessons in the PowerPoint format so it can be viewed on a SmartBoard or computer. I find by doing this and adding cute graphics, video clips or songs, student participation increases greatly. Read More »

Monthly CCC Tips, Technology

5 Ways to Repurpose your Gratitude Tree for School Counseling

If you’re like me, you saw the gratitude tree in the Target dollar spot and grabbed it for a fun fall activity! But now that fall is over, are you wondering what to do with that gratitude tree for the rest of the year? I was too! To stretch out the lifetime of your tree (and save some room in your closet!), check out these 5 ways to repurpose your gratitude tree for your school counseling office!

Are you wondering what to do with your gratitude tree now that fall is over? Check out these 5 ways to repurpose your gratitude tree for school counseling!

Affirmation Tree

Read More »

Craftivities