What exactly does an elementary school counselor do?
It is the counselor's job to make sure that students are happy and doing their best at school. This is a tall order since so many factors go into a child doing well such as: their ability to focus and pay attention, their relationships with peers and teachers, how well they can manage their feelings and impulses, and their lives outside of school. The counselor addresses these issues using individual or small group counseling, as well as classroom guidance lessons and even school-wide programs. The counselor doesn't solve the student's problems, but can help them get through a tough issue or find their own solution.
How do children come to you?
Students come to the counselor in a variety of ways. Usually it's by recommendation of the classroom teacher and/or parent. Sometimes they are referred by the office. Often, children will approach the counselor themselves and ask if we can talk. They may also ask their teacher or someone in the office if they can speak with the counselor.
Why would my child see you?
Students may be referred to the school counselor if there are concerns that are inhibiting their learning here at school. Some concerns, but not limited to are: behavioral difficulties, social/emotional concerns, conflict with peers, attendance concerns and academic concerns.
How do parents contact the counselor?
Parents are invited to contact the school counselor at any time via phone or email regarding their child. Parents are also welcome to call or email the school counselor to set-up a conference.
For how long does the school counselor see the student?
Sessions may be held on a regular, ongoing basis or simply as needed. The counselor's priority is for the student to succeed here at school and to do so the student must be in his/her classroom as much as possible. Therefore the counselor will not remove the student from his/her class for longer than 15 minutes unless crisis management is needed.
How are you different from a therapist at an outside agency?
I frequently see children just once or twice, or in the classroom setting. Although I do often help children with family problems and behavior at home, my primary role is to deal with school-related problems. Sometimes an issue is better addressed more intensively in a therapeutic setting, and with greater direct parental involvement. Contact me if you'd like me to refer an outside therapist for your child.
Will you notify me if you see my child?
Children frequently pop in to tell me about relatively minor or time-limited issues like an argument with a peer or the death of a pet. If that happens, I may not notify you unless: 1. there is a safety concern, 2. your child has asked to see me repeatedly, or 3. if the worry or problem is significant (by adult standards). I will always ask for your written permission if I think your child would benefit from regular meetings with me, or if I would like to recruit them as a "model" for one of my groups.
How do I get referred for outside services?
The role of a school counselor is to assist children during their school day. This may include issues with friends, test anxiety, social issues, and problems at home that are affecting their school day. There are times when outside, private counseling may be necessary, such as when there are difficulties at home (i.e. divorce, death of a loved one, deployment, mental health concerns, etc.) that are either not affecting the child at school or could benefit from professional therapeutic support. If you decide private counseling is necessary for your family, the counselor can provide information regarding local counseling agencies.
If it is a weekend, how do I get help for Crisis Counseling?
Our district has many resources for various situations on their website at desotocountyschools.org/mentalhealth
What are the parameters around confidentiality?
Confidentiality is an important aspect of counseling; this is how the counselor builds trust with the student. What the child says during counseling is to remain between the counselor and the child unless: 1. The child is in imminent danger. 2. The child is threatening to harm him/herself or someone else. 3. The child reports an incident of abuse and/or neglect. 4. The child gives permission to disclose. When a breach in confidentiality is necessary, the counselor would make a report to the appropriate agencies, support staff and/or parents depending on the situation. Note: Our highest priority is keeping your student safe. School counselors and other school staff members are mandated reporters. Mandated reporters are required by law to report to CPS any time a student is suspected of being in danger.
How can I get ahold of the counselor?
The counselor is available Monday-Friday from 7:00am-3:00pm and can be reached by phone or email. If you would like a meeting, please contact the counselor ahead of time to make an appointment. The counselor schedule is not always open to immediate walk-in meetings, however parental involvement is a priority for us and the counselor will try to schedule a meeting for as soon as possible.