National School Counseling Week takes place from February 1st through February 5th. We are proud to recognize the support and guidance that our amazing Uplift counselors provide for our scholars each and every day, from Social & Emotional health to College Preparation.
In the midst of the pandemic, our Social/ Behavioral Counselors have been the face of compassion and positivity. When everything seemed uncertain, they were the unwavering source of support for scholars, families, and staff. They have found new and creative ways to connect with scholars and families throughout the year, especially those attending school virtually. Counselors have leveraged activities such as virtual sand trays, online games, interactive worksheets, and videos to make sure their virtual counseling sessions remain engaging and fun for scholars. Additionally, they have prioritized seeking training and workshops to further build their skills in providing teletherapy to scholars. While this is a significant change for our team of counselors, it has made our program stronger. Our team of counselors exhibit compassion and selflessness every day to ensure that scholars and their families have the best support possible during their time of need. Here are just a few of the stories showcasing the fantastic work our counselors do for our scholars.
Note: Some of the following stories takes place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Counselors focus on building connections with younger scholars through using interactive tools. One counselor’s favorite tool is a tool called “The Therapy Wheel.” It is a little key chain pinwheel. When working with scholars, she uses the wheel by asking the scholar to take a deep breath and breathe on the wheel. The bigger the breath, the faster and longer the wheel spins. Scholars love this tool because they feel like they are playing with a fun toy. They are also learning to take deep breaths and build awareness of what they are feeling in their bodies. This counselor recalls using this tool with one particular Kindergarten scholar that was very overwhelmed with starting school last year. On her first day, she was clinging to and hiding behind her mother’s leg, and her face was buried in her sweater. She refused to make eye contact, and her body was stone statue still. The counselor invited the scholar and her mother to take a seat at her table. She took a seat next to the scholar on the floor, so she was at eye level with her, and without saying a word, she began blowing into the therapy wheel. Once the counselor had the scholar’s attention, she asked if the scholar would like to try it, and she received a gentle nod from the scholar. Less than five minutes later, the scholar was smiling, laughing, and making eye contact while blowing away at the wheel. She and the counselor were connected instantly.
One of our High School Social/Behavioral Counselors worked with a scholar who was having a difficult time adjusting to using Zoom and virtual platforms every day. He was experiencing significant anxiety due to being on camera so frequently. It brought up new fears, worries, and insecurities about himself and was ultimately impacting him academically since he stopped attending his classes consistently. The counselor worked with the scholar by phone and began slowly incorporating parts of Zoom into their session, starting with audio and then small increments of video. Over time, he began to feel more comfortable having these video sessions with the counselor, and his confidence increased. The counselor equipped him with coping skills for navigating his anxiety and communication tools to express his concerns and needs to his teachers. While the transition to being fully present in his classes was more difficult, he is now engaging in his studies more regularly and has a support plan in place when he needs more assistance.
One of our primary Social/Behavioral Counselors has been working with a scholar with a physically aggressive history. He struggled to make connections with teachers and staff, as well as remain focused in the classroom. The counselor spent significant time building trust and rapport with him by learning about movies and video games that he enjoyed and incorporated them into their counseling sessions. He eventually began accepting help and support when he was upset in class. He even began self-advocating for himself when he needed a break to calm his emotions. While he struggles with significant changes and navigating friendships on occasion, overall, his friendships and relationships began to improve, and he seemed more connected with those around him.
This school year, a counselor has been working with a scholar that struggles with anger and frustration. She and the counselor had many sessions where they would process through an emotional outburst in class and work together to develop coping strategies and communication skills that would help the scholar ride the waves of anger instead of being taken under or thrown around by them. The scholar set her mind on accomplishing the goal of growing in her emotional regulation skills. Daily, she committed to practicing deep breathing skills, using “I” statements to express her feelings, positive self-talk, and advocating for her needs. This scholar now has a powerful sense of confidence and can work through anger and frustration in the classroom on her own to focus and learn.
Thank you to all our counselors across the network who do such vital work each and every day.