Providing mental health support to children, especially if this is your first year, can be very challenging. From providing services and attending meeting, to grouping students and time management, here are three common mistakes that you might be making and some tips for avoiding them.
Mistake #1… Not taking the time to build TRUST and RAPPORT
Building rapport with students can be easy sometimes, but tough other times. Often students will be sent their way by their teachers or parent. This means that they may not necessarily be eager to attend counseling with you. While some students will be eager to get out of class to go to their counseling session, others may not want to miss instruction. Just be patient and take time with the rapport building phase of counseling when needed. This may mean 2 sessions. It may mean 2 months!
While you don’t have to just do “rapport building activities” in this long time frame, you will have to be patient if the student does not open up and share during your activities. This is also why I like groups for counseling. If a quieter student is not sharing, at least the other students can model discussion of difficult topics and the resistant student can listen.
If you are looking for Rapport Building activities, click HERE or on the pictures of the products below. I have tons of games, worksheets, and even virtual activities in my store, Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun, that can help you to build rapport with your students in a fun and engaging way.
Mistake #2…Giving advice or making recommendations before listening
I love giving advise. Hence, blogging. But I’ve learned the hard way over the years that kids, and adults, really don’t want advice. They want to be listened to and counseling is all about being a good listener. So while you may have advise that is amazing and helpful, you might need to slow down. Often the advice that I want to give has to be sneakily trickled in to my counseling sessions. Yes, I sneak in my advise and recommendations for many of my counseling students.
This can be done through videos of other people, cartoons, etc. that can be found on YouTube. Kids like videos, right? So, watching others in an entertaining format, such as a cartoon, songs, games, and other kids talking, can make a better impact than a live person saying the exact same thing some times.
Advise and recommendations can also be snuck in to my sessions through playing games that facilitate discussion about behavior or a specific topic. For example, in my Expected vs. Unexpected Behaviors UNO game, my students are given questions that might engage in learning about their behavior in the classroom. For example, one question for a “Green 7” is, “Is it expected or unexpected to yell at your teacher if feeling angry? ” To check out my UNO Therapy games that can help you to engage your students in therapy, click on the picture below.
Mistake #3…Not Managing Time Well!
Ah, time management. In a typical day as a school psychologist, have 10-15 things to accomplish within a typical day…Observations, testing, counseling, meetings, and so forth and so on. Then a crisis happens, and none of what I planned gets done! Luckily, there are several strategies that you can use to help keep yourself organized, so that you can see all of your students on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and hopefully have time to finish your coffee.
One way that you can manage your time is through using a variety of systems for planning your sessions, keeping your sessions at a consistent day/time of the week, and keeping all of those meetings straight. For specifics on my tips for building your executive functioning skills as a school counselor or psychologist, check out my YouTube Video below.
Another key time-saving tip would be to have ready-to go, pre-planned, minimal prep counseling curriculums. As a TpT Counseling materials creator, I have made a few for a variety of topics. These topics include a Anger Management, Coping Skills, Social Skills, and Self-Regulation.
Having curriculums can save you so much time with planning your sessions! If you print and prep all of the games at the beginning of the year, you will never feel rushed with finding a last-minute activity for your different counseling groups and individual sessions. Prep includes printing, laminating gameboards, and cutting out game cards when needed. That’s it really. To check out the curriculums that I have available, click on the picture of the topic that you are interested in below.
You Can Get Counseling Activities Today… for FREE!
If you are hoping to find not just inexpensive, but FREE Counseling Activities, then you are in the right place!
Subscribe to CounselingFannyPack.com and gain access to the Free Resource Library! In it, you will get new counseling activities that are updated monthly for subscribers! Just Click HERE to sign up for access!
If you are OK with spending $3-$5 on a few fun counseling activities for your students, please just click the pictures within this post and they will all link you to the product in my Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun store.