4 Reasons Why You Are NOT CONFIDENT as a School-Based Counselor!

Reason #1 You have a misunderstanding about how to provide counseling services

I have been providing counseling for the past 13 years as a School Psychologist. In my first three years of my career, however, I worked at a school that was so large that my only assignment was to test students for IEPs. Basically, I was a testing machine. When I finally got a new assignment that required me to provide counseling services, I felt a nervous. It had been a few years since my training. However, I was also uneasy about my counseling skills because I was not given any direction. I was not given activities, a curriculum, or resources from my supervisors, district, or colleagues. It was just assumed that I knew what to do and was completely prepared. I was not.

I also had a misunderstanding about what providing counseling in schools looked like. I thought that counseling in school it was supposed to be listening to students problems and talking. Therapy. If you haven’t figured it out yet as a counselor yourself, kids rarely want to talk about their problems. Getting kids to talk to me about they’re bad classroom behaviors or other problems was often like talking to a wall.

That’s because school-based counseling, as it turns out, is not being a therapist in the same way that it might be for adult counseling. Its actually being a teacher of skills. If you also have been feeling like you are not doing a good job with providing counseling to students, it may be because you have been trying to be a therapist, not a TEACHER!

 Yes! You’re a TEACHER! 

As a school psychologist, school social worker, or counselor there might be a few instances where children can come with a problem and you can help them find a solution through talking alone.  In my experience this is rare, particularly in the Elementary School setting.  This is because most children are not able to recognize that they have an emotional or social concern. Counseling students also are likely not coming to you because they want to change an aspect of their life like an adult may do when seeking therapy. 

Children are referred for counseling by their teacher or parents because of an identified social or emotional need. Sometimes kids do not even want to leave their classroom to come to counseling, adding to your challenge of providing them help. Having them come and talk to you about they’re undesirable behavior is not something that they are going to look forward to. This is why you need to make it fun and engaging.

But you don’t have training to be a teacher, right?

While you may not technically have a credential in teaching, as a counselor you are a  teacher of social and emotional skills!  That means that you need to learn how to create lesson plans. It also means that you should have an organization system for teaching your students they’re much-needed life skills. 

Reason #2 You ARE NOT ORGANIZED!

Another reason why you may not feel confident is that you are not organized. When you don’t have a specific schedule or use organization tools, you will not be able to see your students consistently. This will lead to feelings that you are not meeting their needs. It will also create feelings of anxiety or failure as a counselor if you cannot see all of your students on a consistent basis.

Therefore, you need to have a schedule of when you are going to see your counseling students. Then you need to try your best to stick to that schedule. When I was a newer psychologist, I didn’t keep a very good schedule. Unfortunately, that meant that I would  sometimes not see students for weeks at a time!  This was not following their IEP. It was not helping them build a positive relationship with me. And it was not helping them make progress. Having a consistent schedule helps with building trust and a good relationship with your students. So make it. And stick to it!

 Here are some organizational tips for counselors!

Reason #3, You Don’t have a PLAN or CURRICULUM!

The next step is to create a plan or curriculum for each student or group of students. While there are students that need individual counseling on occasion, I prefer groups. You can group your students grade or age, but typically I group students by theme, such as social skills or anger management. Groups are great for school-based counseling because they help with practicing social skills, provides opportunities for modeling from peers, and it creates a better environment for discussion as opposed to individual counseling.

Plan out a few weeks of activities:

It’s best to have a plan of activities for at least 3 weeks out, if not more. Knowing what lesson or activity you are going to do ahead of time we’ll save you a lot of stress with last-minute prepping for your counseling sessions. If you have a tons of activities and groups like I do, having a plan that you can follow will also help prevent you from repeating videos, games, or other activities. It’s not fun to have students say, “We did that last week.”

Reason #4 You Need A LOT MORE Activities!

Now to the fun stuff. Counseling Activities!

If you are new to counseling, you may not have a ton of activities or materials for providing your counseling services. If this speaks to as the reason why you do not feel confident, fear not! Getting counseling activities is an easy problem to solve and might not be as expensive as you think.

As a new School Psychologist, I think this was my main issue when I first started providing counseling services. I was NOT GIVEN ANY TOOLS, MATERIALS, or CURRICULUM for COUNSELING!!!!!

The different types of counseling activities and materials that YOU can use:

The different types of activities or materials that I use include videos, games, social stories, worksheets, and arts and crafts activities. Over the years I have created my own games, worksheets, and list of videos that I show my students during their counseling session. I’ve found that videos are great because they provide instruction in an entertaining medium if you are able to find the right ones.

When using videos be sure to sit with your student and pause them at moments where you want to stress a point,  ask a  related question, or begin a discussion. This is where your counseling skills come into play.

Click HERE for 20 great videos for Tk-2nd Grades!

If you are in need of counseling videos that have been screened, used with students for SEL lessons and counseling, and organized for quick and easy access, please check out my video lists that I have created. I promise it will save you time, relieve your stress, and give your students engaging entertainment that provides learning for building their social and emotional skills. Just click on the picture of the one that would help you out the most.

Click HERE for more on using SEL Videos!

Using Games for Counseling

Counseling games are my favorite tool for engaging students in counseling. they are my secret weapon. When using a game,  use a counseling themed game. That means, don’t just play Checkers or Uno with your students and call it counseling. It’s not! That’s because the games are not teaching any information, skills, or helping the student practice skills that are in their area of need.

Counseling themed games, on the other hand, are games that are designed to facilitate discussion or practice a  skill related to the students needs or counseling goal. These games are typically disguised as a regular game, such as JENGA, UNO, or a Board game. However, they are designed to integrate questions and prompts related to a counseling themes. Playing games also helped build social skills and generalize the emotional or behavioral skill, even when they are not a social skill focused game. 

Here are some of the games that  I have made and use with my students. They are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Counseling Fanny Pack of FUN. Just click on any of the games below if they sounds like what you need to help create AMAZING Counseling groups.

You  have the potential to be an amazing counselor!

 All you really need Is to modify your view on what  school-based counseling services really look like. They look like school! They look like learning, engagement, and growth. And as you grow, your students will blossom, and you will fee more and more like a CONFIDENT COUNSELOR!

Reason #1 You have a misunderstanding about how to provide counseling services I have been providing counseling for the past 13 years as a School Psychologist. In my first three years of my career, however, I worked at a school that was so large that my only assignment was to test students for IEPs. Basically,…

Reason #1 You have a misunderstanding about how to provide counseling services I have been providing counseling for the past 13 years as a School Psychologist. In my first three years of my career, however, I worked at a school that was so large that my only assignment was to test students for IEPs. Basically,…