Counselor Corner

Winter 2016

Big image

Happy New Year!

We hope everyone enjoyed their time off and is optimistic for a happy and healthy 2016! Please take a minute to browse our digital newsletter to learn more about what we've been up to these past few months to address the social-emotional needs of our students.

~Dee and Jane

Counseling Services and Response to Intervention (RtI)

Classroom Guidance Lessons

Here's the breakdown of how this time has been spent (September-December):

Kinder: 42 class lessons

First: 55 class lessons

Second: 12 class lessons

Third: 12 class lessons

Fourth: 12 class lessons

80 hours were spent (September through December) on Classroom Guidance Lessons (does not include planning time for lessons). Last year, many lessons needed to be canceled due to a student in crisis. This year, thank to the addition of a school social worker, 0 classes have been cancelled.

Kindergarten and 1st Grade classes have all completed the Skills for Learning and Empathy units of the Second Step program. The following topics were covered:

*Learning to listen, focusing attention, following directions, self-talk for learning, being assertive

*Identifying feelings, looking for feelings' clues, similarities & differences, accidents, showing care & concern

2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders all learned how to Recognize, Report, and Refuse bullying. They also learned what a bystander is and ways to be a helpful (not hurtful) bystander. The following topics were also covered for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders:

*Identifying feelings (2,3), identifying perspectives (3), empathy and respect (4), respecting similarities and differences (4)

Small Group Counseling

Together, we ran 11 small groups and were able to service 75 students. All groups met for 8 sessions for a total of 59 hours from October-December (does not include planning time).

Although groups were designed with specific goals and objectives in mind; all groups generally focused on teaching social skills to improve the quality of group members' interpersonal relationships. Topics that were covered:

*Basic conversational skills, active listening skills, personal space, expected vs. unexpected behavior, assertive/passive/aggressive behavior, relaxation skills for self-regulation, healthy relationships, giving and receiving compliments


We wrote individualized goals and objectives for each student. Progress was monitored by combining teacher feedback with the results of the DESSA-Mini 2 and progress reports were created for each child. All progress reports were sent home in December/January. Please see Dee or Jane if you would like to view a progress report for one of your students.

New groups will be starting the last week in January. 100 students have been identified and invited to participate in small group counseling. Jen Yawger and Katherine Sura are also running groups. Teachers will be notified of group participants and facilitators shortly.

Individual Counseling & Family Support (RtI Tier III)

The implementation of mental health counseling at Merriam Avenue School has been successful, thanks to the support of all of you!

The goal of school-based counseling is to provide a "safe place" for students to learn to express and manage their emotions and to provide an opportunity for students to receive individualized attention and build a nurturing, positive relationship with an adult.

The opportunity to communicate with teachers and parents is integral in the transfer of skills outside of the counseling room and increases the probability of positive outcomes.

Over the last four months I have been able to establish a positive relationship with 25 of our families who are meeting with me regularly and working collaboratively in the planning and implementation of services.

Some of the many benefits of responsive school-based counselling are that barriers to mental health delivery are eliminated and progress can be directly observed.

My approach in working with our children is to provide support to teachers and parents and to give children the opportunity to learn and practice new skills. These skills are oftentimes learned through child-centered play therapy through which at-risk children have a place they can learn to express and cope with a range of feelings.

I look forward to continuing our work together in providing comprehensive support to our children and their families.

Thank you.


Collaborative and Proactive Solutions to Challenging Behavior

I would like to share a research-based approach to understanding and helping behaviorally challenging children.

As a family counsellor I found Dr. Ross Greene's book The Explosive Child incredibly helpful. His book Lost at School is equally as helpful in supporting children in the school environment. This approach is based on the beliefs that challenging behavior is best understood as the result of lagging cognitive skills and the best way to reduce this behavior is by working togther with the child to solve the problem.

What I like most about this model is the theme that kids do well if they can. If challenging behavior is created through lagging skills and not lagging motivation then its easy to understand why rewarding or punishing a child may not make things better.

The website has lots of free resources to help you learn about this approach.

Click here for a brief overview of the model

If you are interested in learning this approach feel free to contact me and I will be happy to work with you.