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This week is College Decision Day!!  If you are like me and are looking for last minute ideas, I decided to share a post I wrote in 2015 about how to put together a College Decision Day event.  If you want to make plans for next year (which is more realistic), you can check out the resources below to create your own event for 2020.  In addition, I want to give a shout out to Franciene Sabens and her blog, School Counselor Space, for a great presentation on how to create an amazing event.  Please check out her amazing presentation from ASCA.

Check out these resources for additional ideas!

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Typically on Saturday night, I settle early into bed and check out my social media accounts (exciting right?).  One post that caught my attention was an article I found on Facebook explaining how adolescents are more open to talking about suicide and mental health than adults. This article reiterated what I often hear from students who tell me they often lack a trusted adult to talk to when they are feeling down or have concerns.  Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share an activity that I conducted earlier in the year with middle and high school students at a Mental Health Summit.

Teen Chat on Mental Health Issues

Earlier in the year, I was asked to organize a teen chat for middle and high school students around mental health issues.  After much contemplation, I decided I could not be the only person in front of 30 students conducting a discussion...boring!  My plan was to train my peer leaders to facilitate a group discussion on important topics in mental health. Before attempting to coordinate this event, I polled my students about issues that caused them stress or anxiety.  Well, they certainly came through!   The students choose the following topics:

Self Harm and Suicide in Self and Others
Coping Skills and Self Care
Toxic Relationships and Peer Pressure
Time Management and Stress
Drug Abuse

Preparing to Facilitate a Student Led Discussion

Before turning teens loose in a discussion about these sensitive topics, it was imperative to train them to facilitate a dialogue.  I set aside an afternoon and invited interested peer leaders to learn about group facilitation.  The training included: how to set ground rules, how to listen attentively, how to conduct an informative dialogue, what resources we should share, techniques for closing a discussion, and, most importantly, how to make a referral.  Each student was given a set of guidelines and agreed to sign a confidentiality pledge not to share student information from the chat (of course there are exceptions that supersede this pledge--cases of harm to self, harm to others, abuse, or illegal activities).

Setting Up a Discussion

On the night of the event, we divided the room into five tables with two student facilitators at each table.  One student would lead the discussion and the second student or co-facilitator would keep the time, take notes, and assist with notifying one of the adults in the room if there was a student of concern. The students also were given a packet of resources and a large sheet of note paper to write down what they heard during the dialogue (this information would be shared with counselors and social workers).

 Before the chat began, I had one student to greet the entire group to set a positive tone.  On the wall, we listed the ground rules for our dialogue and identified the goals we wanted to accomplish with the group.  Each peer leader introduce him/herself and we acknowledged the presence and role of all the adults in the room (each adult was stationed in the corner of each room and would walk around listening for any concerns or questions).

Peer Leaders Conducting a Discussion on Stress and Time Management

Resource Ideas

Ok, this was actually the hardest part of me.  Coming up with interesting and informative resources for students is not the easiest thing to do.  So, after much deliberation, here are the resources we shared with the students.

Self Care Kit
Informational handouts on suicide, teen dating violence, drug abuse, deep breathing and bullying
Pictures (Adolescent brain on marijuana)
Referral Resources (Suicide hotline, etc.)
Brochures (i.e. self care)
Coloring Pages and coloring crayons

Coloring Pages and Referral Information

List of Coping Skills and Deep Breathing

Brain Image and Drug Information Poster

Self Management Brochure

Preparing for a Crisis

In our initial training, we discussed what to do if a student reported harm to self, others, abuse, or illegal activities.  Boy, did that training pay off!!  During our two chat sessions, we had two separate incidences of where our peer leaders had to make a referral.

The first incident included a group of middle school students who were sitting together. After the initial chat was over, the students asked to speak to the peer leader privately.  In that session, all three students reported having suicidal ideations.  Our peer leader quickly involved me in the conversation and our team was able to refer the students to the therapist on site.

The second incident involved another middle school student who shared that he/she frequently used drugs for recreational use.  After the chat was over, the peer leader immediately referred the student to our onsite social worker supervisor for follow up.

Following Up After the Event

After the event had concluded, the peer leaders were asked to evaluate the teen chat event.  The students were asked three questions:

1.  What went well?
2.  What did not go so well?
3.  What would you change in the future?

Each student was allowed to share his or her thoughts and we made notes about how we would make changes for any future events.  In addition, we reviewed the student notes taken during the evening and decided to share them with our counselors and social workers.

Some student issues of concern included:

Drama in Relationships
Being Able to Ask for Help
Being Able to Express Feelings
Self Image
Family Issues
Time Management
Peer Influence
Academic Pressures
Self Harm
Fear of the Future

Also, we were able to obtain the student evaluation of our event and I am happy to say we received a lot of positive feedback.  Our team decided to conduct more discussions during the school day especially during finals (i.e. lunch and learn).

How to Conduct Your Own Event

Soon, I will post my lesson for school counselors on how you can replicate a teen chat for students.   Also, I would love to hear your ideas if you have conducted your own teen led events!!!!
Thanks for reading!!!

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Recently, Robert Carpenter, Director of National Programs with the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Organization (HOBY), reached out to For High School Counselors to share information about a student opportunity for leadership. I am very familiar with the benefits that my former high school students have experienced from attending their State Leadership Seminar. In this guest post, I wanted to dispense information about HOBY with other high school counselors who may not be aware of this great opportunity! Leadership Development Opportunity for High School Sophomores!

For more than five decades, HOBY has inspired young people to make a difference and become catalysts for positive change in their home, school, workplace, and community. Our Mission is to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.

HOBY seeks to partner with educators and counselors to provide leadership development opportunities for students. HOBY offers engaging, participatory State Leadership Seminars to 10,000+ high school sophomores each year and seeks to promote self-efficacy and community engagement in youth.

Seminars are hosted on college campuses and include a three to four day interactive experience involving practical training and building connections with local leaders, volunteers and other participants. Seminar curriculum is based on the Social Change Model and promotes leadership from three perspectives: Personal Leadership, Group Leadership, and Leadership for Society. After the seminar each student is provided opportunities for further mentorship and challenged to utilize their skills by engaging in 100+ hours of community service. We seek to partner with schools to identify and engage students passionate about developing and utilizing leadership skills. We value the full spectrum of student experiences and backgrounds.

HOBY seeks to build strong partnerships with local schools to identify the best opportunities for supporting students and communities via seminars and through ongoing collaboration.

Educators, counselors and community leaders can select and register students to represent their school. To nominate or register a student please email carpenterr@hoby.org or visit our webpage at www.hoby.org
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I don't know if I have ever shared with my readers that I am  currently teaching a peer leadership class.  Well actually, I am teaching five sections of peer leadership from middle school to high school in the evenings. In the highest level of my peer leadership class (aka Peer 3), I decided to teach a lesson on Sex Trafficking Awareness.  This idea came about after one of our students in a lower level of peer leadership brought up his concerns about not knowing what to do if he was confronted with the issue in school.  To be honest, it was one of the most eye opening lessons that I have taught in a while and the students were grateful that I was teaching about a subject which had not receive much attention in school. I am passionate about empowering students with proactive skills on how to protect themselves and educate others.  In addition to the student lessons, I have been asked to create a school counselor lesson as well.  This week I will be sharing this information with a group of master level students at a college.  To me, this information can save many lives from potential victimization and counselors should be knowledgeable about this issue. 

So, have you been looking for a lesson to teach student leaders about Sex Trafficking?  In this post, I think I have a lesson that may be of interest to you along with additional resources.
Student LessonSex Trafficking Awareness Student Leader Edition
Looking for a lesson to educate and promote awareness regarding the dangers of sex trafficking? This presentation is intended for high student leaders to learn about sex trafficking, provide awareness to their peers, and create an action plan. This can be taught in the fall before promoting awareness about Sex Trafficking Awareness each January.  Also, download the free separate parent permission letter before starting the lesson. 

Sex Trafficking Education for Student Leaders Parental Permission Letter-Download this letter as a companion to the Sex Trafficking Awareness Student Leadership lesson.

What is Sex Trafficking Awareness?

Human Trafficking Prevention Education in Schools & Communities - YouTube
                                   Check out this short film from Frederick Douglass Family Iniatives

Human Trafficking in American Schools defines Sex Trafficking as "when a child (a person under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion against the child’s pimp is not necessary for the offense to be characterized as human trafficking."

Why Should School Counselors Be Concerned?
Here are some basic facts you should consider about Sex Trafficking.
  • Sex Trafficking is the second leading crime in the world.
  • If a student runs away from home and not recovered in 48 hours, it is likely they have been pulled into sex trafficking.
  • Victims have a 30% chance of death.
  • Trafficking creates unhealthy relationships.
  • Trafficking starts around age 12 in girls and 11 in boys.
  • Trafficking can occur in the community and in school.
  • Peers often recruit other peers.
What Can Counselors Do?Educate, educate, educate! Providing awareness is key to help our students avoid victimization.
Providing AwarenessJanuary is  Sex Trafficking Awareness Month

Know the Law
Sex Trafficking is child abuse and staff members must report suspected abuse. Here is a list of state laws regarding reporting child abuse in your state.

State Laws Regarding Reporting Child Abuse
Learn about national and local organizations and partner with them
Consider downloading helpful information from the following organizations.

State Organizations Combating Sex Trafficking
Become more aware as a school counselor and educate others
See the list of classes regarding Sex Trafficking for educators.

Human Trafficking Awareness for Educators
Help develop school protocols
Is your school missing a protocol for reporting  Sex Trafficking?  Help your administration develop a protocol for staff.

Sample Protocol for Schools

Provide resources for staff, parents, and students.

Sex Trafficking Resources for Educators
Get students involved
Check out lessons and class activities to get students involved in awareness, prevention, and education.

Sex Trafficking Lesson on Teaching Tolerance

Class Activities

From the For High School Counselors Blog
Check out a post from 2013 on  student victimization.  There are many resources, videos, and interesting facts in this article.

Student by Day, Exploited at Night

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So, three weeks ago I had a medical procedure and was on bed rest for the rest of the afternoon.  Being that it was New Year's Eve, I was miserable. While lying in bed, I was preoccupied with thoughts of missing my annual New Year's dinner date...rats!  As you can tell, I did not like being horizontal so I decided to keep myself entertained. After I ran out of stuff to do (getting on social media, watching an educational video, talking to my mom on the phone, trying to take a nap), I decided to go through my blog.  Surprisingly, I noticed I had two drafts saved that I never finished.  "Hmmmm, I wonder what I started and never finished?"  The post that drew me in was one from 2015...almost four years ago.  After reading it, I thought it was appropriate to pull it out and finally finish it.  Now, let's go back 2015 and look at the top news topics of that year (yes, I was that bored).

The 2015 Time Capsule

10.Accusations were made that the New England Patriots used a deflated ball to win games. This was known as Deflate Gate.
9. Empire was top show of the year.
8. Hillary Clinton's emails were the talk of Washington.
7. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner.
6. Martin Shkreli became the most hated man in America when he jacked up the price of the HIV drug, Daraprim, by 5000%!
5. Star Wars made a triumphant come back in theaters.
4. Bill Cosby was accused of sexually assaulting women by drugging them.
3. 2015 became one of the warmest years on record due to the El Nino pattern.
2. Laws on marriage changed allowing same sex marriage.
1. Video cams became common police equipment  revealing police brutality and true criminal behavior.

So, that was 2015...can you believe it is now four years later!! Even though I added a few new resources and comments to this post,  I believe this old post is still relevant for school counselors today!

Written Winter, 2015...(my dramatic entrance)
As spring approaches, I have two intentions for writing this post. First, I want to give high school counselors some specific examples of how to advocate for themselves. Second, I want to empower them with some fresh new ideas.  As we know, school counseling jobs are hard to come by these days with school districts' limited resources.  In addition, the job of the school counselor seems ubiquitous to administrators, teachers, and parents who often say, "So, what do you do?"  Urrrggghhhh...I get so sick of hearing that same question over and over.  Therefore, I am always looking for ways that we can stay in within the ASCA domains (academic, career, and social/emotional), but show our stakeholders we are worth the investment!!

A few sidebar notes....
Want to know more about the misconceptions of school counselors, check out this guest post from 2017 by Sheldon Soper.

Also, I wanted to share why districts fail to hire school counselors and why you should always protect your work reputation (pssst  don't be lazy).

One more resource...I wrote a post about how to protect your work reputation as a school counselor.

Now back to the present...
If you want to make a difference in your school community and advocate for your profession, there are some ways you can do this effectively.  I decided to poll some school counselors at all levels and they gave me some great suggestions of how you can be a stand out counselor in 2019.
Five Recommendations on How to Become a Stand Out School Counselor 
1. Promote a Safe School Climate

Safe, inclusive, and positive school climates provide students with supports (i.e. social and emotional learning).  How can school counselors do this effectively?

Some suggestions include...
  • Listen. People need to feel heard. Students, parents, teachers, secretaries, even the principals.
  • Assist students in developing social and emotional competencies like self management, resilience, and decision making. 
  • Refer students with complex social, emotional, and behavioral needs for psychological testing, mental health services, and other educational services.
  • Assist your administrator in addressing the root causes of disciplinary incidents;  preventing future disciplinary concerns;  reintegrating students returning from suspensions,alternate schools, or incarceration, and maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment. 
  • Involve students and student advocates in maintaining a safe, inclusive, and positive educational environment through such programs as peer mediation or restorative justice.
2.  Get Involved in Staff Development and Training

Some suggestions include...
  • Provide school staff with ongoing training in evidence based techniques such as conflict resolution and de-escalation strategies to decrease classroom disruptions.
  •  Provide cultural awareness training to all school personnel.
  • Train school resource officers in cultural competence, child development, conflict resolution, privacy issues, and mentoring.
  • Train students to become peer helpers to extend your services in the school.

  • Connect with the other counselors in your district, not just your department. Start a PLC/PLN (Professional Learning Community/Network), meet on a regular basis to discuss common challenges/solutions/ community resources, share ideas, materials and encourage each other. This is beneficial at  every level but even more at the elementary where counselors are often on their own. It takes leadership and initiative to start one and keep it going.
  • Grow as a professional and submit a session proposal to speak at a conference. (Can't afford to go?  Check out the School Community Counselor Scholarship on the Counseling Geek's blog!)
  • Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!!! With teachers, counselors outside your school, community members, students. Also consider moving up to admin, counselors have great insight that is missing in administration.
  • You see a need and you fill it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a counseling group, a parent workshop, a newsletter home, or a holiday help program.
3.  Become a Advocate for Yourself and All Students

Some suggestions include...

  • Provide clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations for all students, not just a few.
  • Advocate for providing positive interventions in the school discipline policy over student removal.
  • Promote equity and continuous improvement among the student body.
  • Be consistent in collecting data to prove your interventions are working.
  • Collect data to track progress in creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive educational environment.
  • Recognize that it is the best profession in the world and you are fortunate to serve students everyday sometimes never knowing the impact you have made. You have the opportunity every single day to make a difference in the life of a child. It doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Talk to local politicians about what your role looks like.
  • Get involved in social media PLNs (twitter is a great place to start, look up #scchat #hscchat #escchat
  • Get involved in your local branch of your association and your state association.
  • Find your “why”! There are going to be horrible, tough days you may even feel like quitting but know your why will make those hard days manageable! Plus give you a goal to work towards. Have a celebration folder for the rough days too! Self-care is essential. Plan it into your life! We can only help others if we help ourselves first! We must put the oxygen mask on us before others!!
  • Take care of yourself so you can be “present” with your students and help them navigate their mental health.
  • Get out of your office. Walk the halls at lunch. Get to know the kids and make yourself visible and approachable.

4.  Teach Students Needed Skills for Success in Life  (2018 resources added here)

Some suggestions include...

  • Consider teaching your students survival skills needed for the 21st Century.  Consider such events as an Adulting Day Event.  Want to know more?  Check out my post on creating an Adulting Day Event.

  • Find creative ways to recognize all students for their skills and accomplishments.  A creative and out of the box counselor gets noticed!!!
Consider doing something that no one else has done before in your school.  Here are a few ideas to think about...

Career and Technical Letter of Intent Signing Day

Many student are not recognized at award nights, college signing days, or honor ceremonies. Consider creating a Career and Technical Letter-of-Intent Signing Day." At this ceremony, students and company representatives sign letters of intent regarding conditions of the students' employment, training, and compensation. 


College Signing Day

For students who want to move to a college or university, consider a College Signing Day Event. Follow this guide to create your own College Signing Day to celebrate future success.

5.  Meet Regularly With Your Administration and Offer Your Expertise and Support 

Some suggestions include...

  • Make an effort to get to know your principal as a person.
  • Give support to your principal on decisions he or she makes.  The support you give will come back your way!
  • Build trust by keeping your word, being student-centered, and keeping your principal informed. 
See more about your relationship with your principal...it's pretty important.

I hope this post will give you some ideas where to begin in becoming a stand out counselor.  Here is my suggestion...don't try to do everything at one time.  Just pick one suggestion and try it out. Also (if you don't celebrate this important event), National School Counselor's Week is just around the corner!  Check out the awesome resources ASCA has provided for school counselors to show how we support our school. Happy 2015, um, 2019!

Monday: Happy National School Counseling Week 
Take a picture/video with the new National School Counseling Week sign
Tuesday: Lessons Learned 
School counselors: Take a photo with the sign  – "As a school counselor, I have learned…”
Wednesday: Lessons Shared
School Counselors: Download the “As a school counselor, I want my students to know…” sign
Supporters: Download the “My school counselor taught me…” sign
Thursday: Life #Goals
School Counselors: Download the “This School Counselor’s #Goal” sign and share your school counseling goals
Supporters: Download the “Thank you __________(insert school counselor’s name) for helping me set my #goal to become a…”

Friday: Building Better Humans
School Counselors: Download the “I’m Building Better Humans by…” sign
Supporters: “My school counselor helps me be better by…”
Still not sure about NSCW???  Check out these articles!

Why You Should Celebrate NSCW, article by  Patrick O'Connor from 2018

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I am so excited to announce that my colleague and I will be hosting our first ASCA webinar in January!  In this post, I would like to share the contents of our webinar and ask that you consider attending if you are interested in starting a peer program. This webinar is based on our presentation at the American School Counselor Association Conference in Los Angeles. 

Check out our ASCA presentation here.   

Webinar Description:

Peer helping has been well-researched as an effective method for helping at-­risk students as a Tier 1 support strategy. Researchers discovered that establishing a peer program promotes developmental assets in youth, shows effectiveness in reducing at-risk behavior in youth, leads to reductions in alcohol use and tobacco use more than teacher-­led programs, shows a decline in fighting, fosters desirable learning and behavioral change and shows effectiveness in developing a thriving community.
Learning objectives:

After viewing this webinar, you should be able to:
  1. Examine how peer programs can be established whether using advisory program, peer program standards and/or a well-researched curriculum.
  2. Design a peer-helping program plan that follows the National Association of Peer Program Professionals programmatic standards and ASCA student standards.
  3. Discuss the school counselor’s role in implementing a peer-support program designed as a Tier 1 intervention.
  4. Learn about sample activities to engage the school community in social/emotional awareness. Participants will hear from a student in a peer leadership program who will share experiences, involvement and why peer leaders are an asset to the school environment.
  • Monica Seeley, Graduation Specialist and Peer Leader Coordinator, Heritage High School, Conyers, Ga.
  • Cynthia Morton, Learning Support Specialist and District Peer Facilitation Director, Rockdale Virtual Campus, Conyers, Ga.

Jan. 17, 2019, 11 a.m. Eastern

To Register for ASCA Webinars:  
  1. Login to your ASCA account and click on "My ASCA" in the top right corner. 
  2. From your dashboard, click on "Register for Upcoming Events." 
  3. Find the webinar and click "Register to Attend" and complete the registration process. 

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Happy 2019!!!  

I have a new change coming for the For High School Counselors Blog later this month. 

If you are a regular follower of the blog, I wanted to let you know that I will be moving to Word Press effective on January 30th.  Although I have been with Blogger for six years, I wanted to change the look of the blog and Word Press seems to have what I need to make that change.  The Word Press site is now available so you can now visit my site immediately.  

Also, Blogger will remain open until all the components are moved.  Again thanks for following!
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It is a rainy afternoon so I decided to sit at my desk and share a post with my fellow counselors. I often try to wait for an inspiration of something positive and uplifting, but today is not that kind of a day.  In fact, my post is going to reflect the weather outside my window...ominous. So, I am going to start out pretty disheartening, but I think if you can hang in there it will end on a palatable note.

This post reflects my soul today...forgive me!
I decided to write this difficult post based on my interaction with some pretty burned out school counselors within the last couple of months. Our interactions really had me thinking that counselor burn out is an issue that needs to be discussed within our profession.  In our wonderful social media groups and blogs, we often share the ups and downs of our experiences (which is awesome by the way).  It is really helpful to have a network of colleagues who support, uplift, and guide you when you are having a bad counselor day.  The people who usually participate in these groups are looking for insight, encouragement, and direction for their profession.  I have been a recipient of this support and I appreciate all the school counselors who have encouraged me over my career.  So, saying this, this post is NOT ABOUT YOU!  I wanted to get that message out so no one feels that they are being targeted in my writing today.  This post is about those colleagues (who probably don't read blogs anyway) who are not so supportive of others, don't care to receive feedback (or can't take feedback), and stay enmeshed in their own narrow minded world.  This post addresses the school counselor who has the bad reputation in a school.  This person is known as rude, snide, critical, and seems uncaring (okay, you get the picture). So, this may not be you,  but you may work with a person who falls in this category.  Now that I made that clear, let's proceed to my point!

Okay, so not everyone likes us...I get it.  I am not liked by everyone, but my goal is to be consistent, reliable, and on top of my game as I can humanly be.  If I make a mistake (which happens despite my best efforts), I also try to make it right as I can.  However, I found that this is not the case for all counselors.  Case in point (and the reason for this very post), a colleague shared a letter from a student who was looking for some true "guidance" from any counselor at his school.  The student went to three different counselors and felt disregarded by each of them.  He wrote an impassioned letter to a teacher, who he felt really listened, and said to her, "why can't you be my counselor? You helped me more in 10 minutes then my counselor has helped me in three years.  Why doesn't the counselors at this school like me?"  My heart broke when I read his letter and the teacher said to me that he was so disheartened by the treatment he experienced that he refused to go back to them.  Unfortunately, this seems to be systemic in this one particular school and the mode of operation for that department.  The counselors in that school have a bad reputation for being uncaring, unhelpful, and students often ask..."what do those counselors do all day?" In fact, many students will recall their bad high school counselor as adults before they will remember that bad History teacher.  Money Watch Magazine said it best..."students reserved their scorn for their high school counselors -- not teachers."

Why Students Dislike their Counselor?

When polled by students, here are the top answers of why most students do not like their counselor (Source: Lynn O'Shanghnessy):

1. The counselor did a fair or poor job in helping them prepare for a post-secondary option.
2. The counselor never got back to them after they put in for an appointment.
3. The counselor never really listened to their concerns.
4. The counselor failed to show empathetic regard.
5. The counselor simply was too busy to talk to them (i.e. testing, meetings, etc).
6. The counselor lacked knowledge about the subject and failed to direct them to where to find an answer.

Why Some School Counselors are...well, BAD?

I think that the majority of school counselors start out as caring professionals who want to help kids.  However, for some school counselors (remember, not you), something happens to change them from caring to passive, unreliable, and even callous.  Typically, school counselors who acquire the bad reputations are those who have been impacted by vicarious trauma themselves.  In fact, the act of caring to the point that you are drained of empathy is a real problem for people in our profession.  This draining of empathy often occurs after school counselors spend a lot of energy caring for others over a long period of time.  Researchers have coined this type of burnout as compassion fatigue or secondary PTSD. 

How do you know when you or a colleague is experiencing burnout or compassion fatigue? When looking at burnout in school counselors, Michael Nobles found there are four distinct stages:

Stage 1
Are you or your colleagues always available to families or students?  Also, do you or your colleagues tend to over-identify with students? For instance, a school counselor may fail to eat lunch, miss family events, or begin to think about students constantly (even in their dreams). 
Stage 2
Are you or a your colleagues realizing that you are working way too much and making the decision to reduce the time on your job?  After this reduction in commitment,  have you started to feel discontented or stagnate in your job?
Stage 3
Have you or a colleague felt frustrated with your job, become less tolerant of others, or failed to sympathize with your students. Have you started to avoid students or withdrawn emotionally or physically from work?
Stage 4
 Finally, have you or a colleague become listless and apathetic? Have you found yourself sitting in the office all day, failing to see students on a regular basis, and even starting to miss work?

When burnout is allowed to continue without self care or help, it can have negative implications on students, colleagues, and our personal lives.  Some of the immediate dangers include: little interest in work, impaired relationships with your colleagues and students, and even physical and emotional withdrawal from work (i.e. missing copious days of work or hanging out all day in your office at the computer).  

Tips for Becoming a Efficient, but Caring School Counselor

One of my favorite television characters was Ziva David from NCIS.  She was tough, but showed great care and concern for those she was sworn to protect.  Maybe her character was based on the concept of the Israeli school counselor who is considered to be an expert problem solver.  In fact, these school counselors have adopted a quarterback concept which means that they are very effective in their role.  According to Edutopia, their roles are clear..."promote a positive school climate, encourage strong relationships with multiple faculty and staff members, assist parents in providing proper guidance and support for their children, arrange and support programs to build students' social-emotional competencies and sound character, bring in community and Internet resources around career and academic planning, and to provide direct services where possible or arrange for them from elsewhere when necessary." Although we have standards set by ASCA, not all school counselors may not understand or even want to ascribe to the ASCA standards.  Therefore, here are some tips you can employ or suggest to your colleagues to become an efficient and caring counselor in your school. 

1.  Advocate for all students, not just for the few who are going to college.  
2.  Increase communication with outside agencies to bring resources and assistance to all students.
3.  Stay informed about changes in policies on the national, state, and local level.  That means you may need to go to conferences, workshops, and attend staff development opportunities.
4.  Be visible which means you need to get out of your office.  Go to classrooms, stand in the hall, eat in the lunchroom, attend or sponsor an after school club.
5.  Answer all your emails and appointments within 48 hours. Jeff Ream, the Counseling Geek, suggests setting aside 15-30 minutes a day to answer and go through emails.
6.  Take students seriously when they make threats...especially suicidal threats.  Don't be like the counselor from "13 Reasons Why" who has become the poster child of a bad school counselor!!
7.  Exercise self care!  This is a school counselor ethical standard that is often neglected!!

I hope that this post was taken in true true spirit in which it was written...not to put down counselors, but to recognize bad behaviors that can put a negative light on our profession.  I recognize that school counseling is not all roses and sunshine and there will be truly overwhelming and negative experiences; however, recognizing the signs of burnout is imperative! Although it is difficult to change others, you can recognize and encourage others to renew their passion that they once felt as a new school counselor.  In addition, here are some additional resources that may help or can be shared with your fellow colleagues.  

What can you do now to prevent burnout?  Take the summer to renew, refresh, and revive yourself so that you can support our most precious resources, our students!!

Additional Resources

3 Habits of Effective (Yet Caring) School Counselors by the Counseling Geek

Importance of Practicing Self Care by Confident School Counselors

Archives from the For High School Counselor Blog

How to Fix a Broken School Counselor

Tips for Avoiding School Counseling Nightmares

What To Do When You are Last On the List

End of Year Tips for the Overworked School Counselor

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If you have been following social media for the last couple of years, you may have noticed that the term adulting has become widely popular. Adulting refers to the basic skills needed to operate effectively after high school.  According to the Urban Dictionary, adulting refers to a person who can carry "out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals" (i.e. opening a checking account or making a doctor's appointment). The word adulting became culturally accepted in the mid-2010's and refers to the time in which young adults begin to take on adult responsibilities.  The current trend is that young adults, aka Millenials (those born between 1981-1996), perform common life experiences much later than former generations like the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1980).  For some millenials, the term adulting has taken on a negative connotation. Its negative use is due to the fact that older generations describe Millenials as not being "adult enough" at the right time.  So, in essence, using the term adulting can be seen as positive by some, but as a negative terms by others (Time Magazine).

So, why does it take so long to grow up these days?  According to researchers, there are several reasons for emerging adulthood:

1.  Technology Revolution

Unlike past decades, stable jobs are typically not available after high school so continuing education is essential for job stability.  Therefore, it takes longer to prepare for today's knowledge based economy than the manufacturing economy of the past. 

2.  Sexual Revolution

With the creation of birth control in the 1960's, young people are involved in sexual relationships earlier which has prolonged the desire or need to marry.  Researchers estimate that Millenials are waiting at least ten years longer than older generations to commit to a single relationship. 

3.  Women's Movement 

Unlike past decades there are more women in college than men.  In fact, 58% of college attendance is women while 42% include men.  Instead of beginning a family in their 20's,  young woman use this time to make decisions about their professional lives.

4.  Youth Movement

The new ideology of the Millenial generation is to prolong youth into their 30's and enjoy life more. The phrase "30 is the new 20" is really true!

Check out this video that explains this concept more in detail.

Why does it take so long to grow up today? | Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | TEDxPSU - YouTube

With the delay into adulthood, a new phenomenon has occurred in our culture.  Because of the lack of preparation for life, many Millenials find it necessary to take adulting classes that teach everything from the importance of drinking water to changing the oil in a car.  The Washington Examiner found that the concept of taking adulting classes has become necessary due to rise of the working mothers of Millenials. Because many mothers have to work, they often lack time in their busy schedules to teach their kids how to cook, clean, or balance a checkbook.  Although parents should be empowering their children during adolescence, it seems as if Millenial parents feel the need to take care of everything for their kids rather than teaching them basic survival skills.  Therefore, the concept of adulting classes was born. Originally, adulting classes were taught to emerging adults in their mid to late 20's, but recently, a news article caught my eye about a Kentucky High School sponsoring an adulting course for its students.  Some of the topics that the school offers their students include:

  • Changing a tire
  • Cooking in your dorm room
  • Balancing a checkbook
  • Credit cards usage
  • Tax preparation
  • Talking to police officers when stopped (great idea!)
Watch the short video below for more information about adulting day at this Kentucky high school.

School hosts 'Adulting Day' to teach students skills like paying bills, changing a tire - YouTube

In conducting research for this blog, I decided to look up some ideas about how to create an adulting class or day. Unfortunately, there are very little resources regarding how to create such an event. So, I decided to create some companion materials for high school counselors who may be interested in creating their own event.  

These materials include:

Adulting 101 Event Guide
  • Potential topics with resources
  • How Grown Are You Quiz to determine a student's adulting IQ
  • How to coordinate your own Adulting Day event.
Adulting 101 Flyer Template
    In addition, I found these great videos that you may want to use with students during your event.  These videos include everything from washing clothes to how to make coffee (an essential skill if you work with me!!).   

    Don't Panic: A Message to Graduates - YouTube

    What Happens After High School?

    5 Things to Know when you Turn 18 - YouTube

    What Happens When You Turn 18?

    Dorm Life Essentials: What to Pack for College Dorms! - YouTube

    Living and Operating in a Dorm Room

    The 7 Habits of Highly Happy Roommates! - YouTube

    How to Get Along With Your Roommates

    How to Do Laundry - YouTube

    How to Do Your Own Laundry

    12 Simple Steps to Change a Tire! - YouTube

    How to Change a Flat Tire

    How to Take Care of Yourself When You're Sick - YouTube

    How to Take Care of  Yourself When You are Sick

    How to Tie a Necktie - YouTube

    How to Tie a Necktie

    11 Tips Before You Get a Tattoo - YouTube

    Tips Before Getting a Tattoo

    How to Meal Plan - YouTube

    How to Plan a Meal

    How to Make Coffee - YouTube

    How to Make Coffee (Yes!!)

    How to Write a Resumé (...Like a Wizard)! - YouTube

    How to Write a Resume'

    How to Write a Cover Letter! - YouTube

    How to Write a Cover Letter

    How to Write Personal & Professional Thank You Notes! - YouTube

    How to Write a Thank You Letter

    I hope you enjoy this post and I would love to hear if you find the resources helpful.  Also, please let me know if you have planned an Adulting Day Event or planning one in the future...I would love to see your pictures!!
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    With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I decided to take the morning off and snuggle with my dogs on the couch.  Well, truth be told, my dogs don't like me as much as they like my husband so they have moved to the other side of the couch (sigh). Feeling a little rejected, I decided to make time to write about my top 10 posts of 2018.  Hope you enjoy!

    New for 2018, this post received a lot of positive comments from school counselors.  In fact, many school counselors find this technique to be very helpful when working with students who have a difficult time opening up in a traditional office setting.  This post outlines my steps for speaking to students outside of the office and I even include a free poster for your office.

    To be honest,  I wrote this post after having a bad day.  In fact the week before I wrote this post, I experienced some pretty unsettling interactions with a colleague and I was feeling well, ticked.  In this post, I describe why some students do not like their school counselor and how other school counselors can identify signs of counselor burn out.  I received some "amens" from school counselors who realized they had a colleague in this phase of burnout.

    For the second year in a row, this post continues to resonate with many school counselors and has been featured on other school counseling blogs.  I cannot reiterate enough how important self care is in our field and how many of us continue to fail to take care of our mental or physical health.  Hopefully,  you will find a tip or two that will be helpful to you in this post.

    For five years in a row, this post has consistently made the top ten list on my blog.  In fact, I try to update this blog post so the number has increased from 173 to almost 200.  If you find a website or resource to add, feel free to message me!

    Although I cannot take credit for this idea, I was happy to share it with other school counselors who work with students who self harm.  In fact, this past year I was invited to share this idea with other school counselors at Abraham Baldwin College Counseling Conference.  In my workshop, we talked about self harm and counselors even had the opportunity to make their own comfort kits. In fact, this post gives instructions on how to create your own kit.

    Again another idea for which I cannot take credit, but was widely popular with school counselors.  This post gives ideas of how to incorporate coloring in your school counseling practice.  In this post, I give information about the benefits of coloring, ideas of how to institute the idea in your office, and I include free resources.  Again, many school counselors went wild about this idea.

    This post came about when I decided to leave my job as a brick and mortar counselor to go into the virtual world.  This post encompasses some of the things that I wanted to do before I left my job along with a list of ideas for school counselors.  Apparently many school counselors liked my ideas and I had a lot of them give me some additional ideas as well.  Keep them coming!!

    Like me, many of you agree that you do not know what to do when a student comes to your office and exposes that he/she is self injuring.  This post describes self injury and some tips for school counselors.  

    Apparently, many of you have students with hygiene issues.  Yes, I can totally relate to this issue as many of my students are often facing the same problem.  Instead of being reactive, I wanted to help my students face their personal hygiene by giving them strategies.  Again, many of you found this post helpful and I am glad it has made a positive impact.

    For three years now, this post has been my most popular blog post to date and I cannot blame school counselors for loving it.  Forms are my favorite things to collect and I am always trying to share with my audience.  In fact, I have a few other posts that have different resources and forms that you may want to check out as well.  

    Well friends, 2018 is almost at an end and 2019 is less than a week away.  As always, thank you for viewing my blog and I can't wait to share some ideas for new posts with you!!   

    Happy New Year!!
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