I found this presentation challenging as it is the first time I have presented to other school and community counsellors. As a fairly new counsellor I am still finding my feet. Although, what I do bring with me this area of working in a school is my experiences and knowledges as a classroom teacher. My classroom practice has informed my counselling practice considerably. As part of my presentation I talked about the vital role I believe school counselling plays in supporting the increased academic achievement of our young people.
The theme of my presentation was the idea that when we work with young people it is not just about providing therapy - though this is central to what we do. Young people bring their whole world to school with them everyday. For many, when they sit in their classroom, they are also continuing to experience the trauma, stress, anxiety and pain of whatever is happening to them outside of school. They find it hard to focus on their school work because they are not able to switch off from what has happened before they came to school, the night/day before or maybe something that happened in the weekend.
The truth of life for our young people is that many struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts and ideas, anxiety and many other challenges. In our work as counsellors we are tasked with helping and support our young people to overcome, work through and sometimes just manage the many things happening to them. However, I believe we mustn't lose sight of the supporting them to achieve academic success. One of my foundational beliefs is that education provides young people with opportunities and choices they may not otherwise have without some level of academic success. In my work this means, where possible, also supporting our young people academically. This can sometimes mean asking permission to share with some of their teachers an overview of what is happening for the young person. Sometimes this means building a relationship with their whanau and sometimes this means referrals to outside agencies when needed.
One of the things I really wanted to articulate today is that we are more than just someone for our young people to talk to. In some cases we may be the only person who knows the full extend of their challenges and burdens. One of the difficulties of our work in schools is that often we are more than just a counsellor - we are at times a social worker too.
I feel as though the presentation went well - I am not sure my colleagues felt the same way I do about my work......I hope they do.