Step One: GET ORGANIZED!!!
|School||Student||Parent name||Parent email||Parent Phone Number||Dates and method of contact|
I start with creating a contact list. This way I can keep organized with my students’/clients’ parents’ names, phone numbers, emails, and dates that I attempted contact or made contact.
I can then easily copy and paste email addresses when sending group of individual emails, without continually logging into my school district’s database.
Step Two: Create a Counseling Log
|Name||Goal(s)||Date of Session||Activity||Progress|
Create something to indicate area of counseling goals, activities, and document progress. A basic log like the one above is fine, but you can also create a log system using a Google Form, which I love.
With this method of creating a Google Form, I am able to click a few buttons, enter the date of the service, enter the activity, and enter the progress notes. The form then creates a lovely graph showing attendance, and creates a spreadsheet that organizes all of the documented services, so that you are able to pull up that information anytime if needed. Here are samples below of my Google Form and Spreadsheet that it creates:
|Timestamp||Student||Date of Session||Activity||Results of Session, Progress towards goal(s)||Attendance|
|D.||9/16||Student Quarantined, unavailable|
|L. , E. P., L.K.||9/15||“All about me” rapport building, coloring||good participation with socialization, less with the activity|
|S, K||9/15||“All about me” rapport building art activity||OK socialization, but Sammy fixated on the Kenetic sand and required prompting to engage in activity||Present|
|L.O., Ben||9/13||Rapport Building Jenga||Good participation and conversation. Ben requires focus on behavior and calming strategies.||Present|
Step Three: Parent Communication
Introduce yourself to parents in a general email and share:
•Discussion of confidentiality
•Discussion of Expectations (punctuality, privacy for the student, no eating, counseling homework assignments etc.)
•If sending a general email to more than one parent, Blind Cc all parents, so that they cannot see other parent’s email addresses.
•Individual emails can be sent regularly
•Individual emails may need to be sent to alert parents of session time and to send Zoom link or instructions for adding Google Classroom.
Step Four: Set up your weekly Zoom sessions
Preschedule your counseling sessions (ex. Every Wednesday at 10:30) and then email the parent the link and/or copy and paste the link and dates onto your student’s Google Classroom page. Keep this information as the first assignment, so it is easy to find.
Zoom is my preference because I learned to use it pretty easily and it has a lot of good features, like screen sharing, background options, muting, and break out rooms. Scheduling the sessions was straight forward and the picture quality looked better than Google Hangouts.
Step 5: Use Google Classroom to set up Counseling for Individual Students (classroom.google.com)
Using Google Classroom gives your student more privacy and responsibility to check their weekly counseling assignments or videos, contact you if in crisis, and independence from relying on parent’s who may be working or at work.
Add the weekly videos, attach worksheets (if student has a printer), or give general assignments (ex. practice square breathing 2x day) before or after your session.
Step Six: Use Multimedia, such as Counseling Videos
Step Seven: Set up a Google Voice Number…maybe
If you have clients who could be in crisis or danger in some manner, you may want to set up a Google Voice phone number. When you get a call and don’t now the number, it will screen it and the voicemail will come up in an email or text. Then you can call the number back. It’s nice because it can be a direct number to you that isn’t your real phone number for parents or students to have. I have the number in my email sign even during this time of distance learning.
Step Eight: Continual Communication with parents!!!
Call parents for students who are not attending sessions, or parents who have not replied to your emails.
Make sure that both parents are informed of services and expectations if the parents both have custody/educational rights.
Sending weekly reminders, updates, and resources also helps remind parents about their child’s upcoming session and shows your continual support.
More on Parent Involvement
We didn’t sign up for family counseling, or even parent counseling, but often parent involvement can help your student better reach their goal, especially when learning is happening in the home. Let parent and student know together expected counseling homework, such as “I want Sam to get more outside exercise this week as a coping strategy, so please try to have home go for walks or bike rides with you” or “Can you please check Joe’s daily math because his teacher says that he has not been turning it in.”
While counseling is generally confidential, many students are being counseled to help improve work habits, organization, and improve or learn social skills, coping skills, or behavior. Since distance Learning involves the home environment and parent support so significantly, be OK with having parents join you session if appropriate. This way they can answer any questions about areas of difficulty, concern, they can join the conversation, and help get on the same page with what you are working on to better support their child.
Step Nine: Communicate with TEACHERS!!!
If counseling is school-based or part of an IEP or 504 service, then communication with the student’s teacher(s) is also important. Questions that I liked answered are usually if the student is participating during zoom learning, completing assignments, or if there are any other concerns (home environment, apathy, defiance, etc.).
Step Ten: A Tip for Your Students
If the student is in a small home, a loud home, or in a room where siblings or parents are present or may walk through, ask them to wear HEAD PHONES!!! This will help reduce distractions, prying ears, and keep confidentiality. Also, students love to change their background, so let them have a little fun, especially if you are providing group therapy, as this will help keep confidentiality of their home environment.
Step Eleven: Have Fun!!!
Counseling children requires making things fun and entertaining, so be creative, think outside of the box, and spend time preparing each session’s activity. If you need activities, videos, worksheets, or more ideas, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers page. I have many activities that can be played with a deck or cards or dice and a few games that you can use with a Share Screen for a “game” to facilitate conversations and learning.