31. Using Student Emotional Check-Ins During Counseling Sessions
Episode 3118th October 2023 • Counselor Chat Podcast • Carol Miller, School Counselor
00:00:00 00:12:01

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In this episode we talk about the power of using emotional check in with students and ideas of check ins to use with students.

Why Use Emotional Check-Ins:

  • Emotional check-ins are a valuable tool for school counselors.
  • They serve as an assessment of students' emotional well-being.
  • Identify students who may need additional support or intervention.
  • Promote a safe and supportive environment for students to express their feelings.
  • Foster empathy among students as they share their emotions.
  • Build trust and enhance group dynamics.
  • Reduce potential conflicts within the group.
  • Provide tailored support for individual students.
  • Teach emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
  • Normalize the ups and downs of life to reduce the stigma around counseling.
  • Track progress over time.
  • Enhance students' communication skills.

Check In Examples:

  • Sentence starters: "I feel," "I wish," "I need," "I hope," "I want."
  • "High Low Buffalo" - Positive, negative, and something funny from the day.
  • "Hit Rewind, Let's Rerecord, Press Play" - Reflecting on what to replay, rerecord, or look forward to.
  • "Happy News, Sad News, No News Today" - Sharing something positive, something negative, or having nothing to share.
  • Using thermometers or Likert scales to rate their day.
  • "Feelings Check-In" with pictures of emotions for younger students.
  • Creative options like "Brick and a Balloon," "Glow and Grow," "High and Low," and more.
  • "Rose, Thorn, and Bud" - Sharing a good thing, a not-so-great thing, and something to look forward to.

Links Mentioned:

Grab this FREE Check In Sampler

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Grab the Show Notes: Counselingessentials.org/podcast

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Carol: You're listening to the Counselor Chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place, because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in.

Carol: Hi, everyone. It's Carol. Welcome to another episode of Counselor Chat. I hope you guys are all having a great week. I know that it has been really busy in my school, but it has been awesome. And so I hope you are having the same type of week at your school where you are. Anyway, today I thought we would talk a little bit about using student emotional check ins as part of your counseling groups or your individual counseling. When I first started running groups, I always had lots of things for kids to do, and when they came in, I would just simply hit the ground running with them. They would come in and I would just say, all right, let's begin. Here's what we're talking about today. And I would go from there. But the longer I've been in this business and the longer I've been a counselor, I have changed things up a little bit. And so now I kind of start with a basic check in, like, how are you doing? What's going on? How are things? And that has, I think, really done a lot for my program. And the more I think about it, when we start with an emotional check in in our groups or individual counseling sessions, they really have some pretty important purposes. I think back, and when I first started doing them, I didn't really think about all the benefits. I really just thought, hey, this is a good way to buy some time while some of the kids are eating. And we'll just check in really quick before we start our activity, because then we can clean up and get busy. But they're really more than that. They really serve as an assessment because emotional check ins really provide us an opportunity to assess the emotional well being of our students. It really helps us identify which kids are struggling a little bit and which kids are really kind of doing okay. And if we're doing counseling, like group counseling, that check in can also serve as a do I have to check in with this kid individually later just to make sure things are well. So it's a really great quick assessment. It's also a good piece of early intervention, because when we regularly check in on our students emotions, we can detect potential issues early, and that allows us more time to give them intervention and supports. I think creating or using the check ins also helps create a safe place because as the kids are going around the room and they're all talking and they're sharing their check ins, I think they really know that it's a safe and supportive place for them to express all their feelings, no matter how they're feeling. And it really builds a sense of empathy because as kids are saying, I'm not having the best day, the other kids might pop in and say, you know what? I was having a really awful day yesterday. You know what? Things will get better because my day today is going a whole lot better than it was yesterday. So it really creates that safe place. It builds trust and it really adds to the group dynamics. And then when we do this and it's building all those things, it really can lessen any potential conflicts or issues within the group because the kids are learning to be empathetic towards one another. It also allows us to give really tailored support to kids, because if we know how they're doing before we dive in and get deep with some of the information that we're going to talk to them about, we can really say, oh, maybe this session might be better for next week because we got some dirt that we got to talk about, or we have some stuff that we have to dive into today instead. So it really does give us a pretty tailored support of how we're best going to work with our kids. It also teaches kids emotional intelligence and they're learning to become self aware, to be able to handle their emotions, to maybe self regulate. Because we can also discuss, well, you're having a really bad day. What coping strategies can you use? What things can you do to turn things around today? What do you need to feel a little bit better than what you're feeling right now? So we are really teaching and modeling that emotional intelligence and we are normalizing things because when kids hear that their peers are also experiencing a range of emotions, it can really help normalize the ups and downs of life. And let's face it, when we normalize the ups and downs of life, we can reduce the stigma around counseling and getting support. It also helps us to track progress, because if we track how they're feeling each week, we can see what's the long term benefit of our program. And lastly, it really works on their communication skills because when kids can learn to express their emotions and thoughts in a group setting, well, they can do that in their personal and their adult life as well. When they get older, they'll be able to use those skills, let people know what they need, how they're feeling, where they're going. So these check ins have really been a great addition to my counseling program. All right, so let me share with you now a few things that I do with my kids to check in, and I have a whole variety. I like to kind of switch it up a little bit so that the kids are always on their toes, but so that I'm not asking them the same question all the time. A little variety is the spice of life. So sometimes I just give them some quick little sentence starters. I feel, I wish, I need, I hope, I want. So we're getting them to really communicate all those aspects, what they feel, what they wish for, what they need, what they hope for and what they want. Then some other check ins that I use. And I got this from one of my Facebook groups, High Low Buffalo, which is a positive, a negative, and something funny that happened in the day, high Low Buffalo. There's also one that I like to use. It's called? Well, I call it hit rewind. Let's rerecord or press play. And what this really means is, if you could rewind your day, what part would you want to rewind and play over? What made it so fantastic? And is there a part that you wish that you could just rerecord and have a do over because it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to? And press play is, what are you looking forward to? As we play our tape forward? What are you looking forward to? So hit rewind. Let's rerecord, press play. There's also happy news, sad news, or no news today. And kids just share one happy thing or something sad, or maybe they have nothing to share. So happy news, sad news, no news today. I've also given them thermometers and had them check on thermometer, how they're feeling. This is, I think, really great with our individual kiddos. I'll give them a thermometer, and I'll say, okay, how are you doing today? Show me on the scale where you are. And if I don't use a thermometer, I might have more of a likert, scale. Rate your day from one to ten. One being eh, ten being fantastic. Where do you fall? And then I could follow it up with, all right, you only rated yourself as a six. What would it take to move it to a seven or an eight? How do we get there? So rate your day. I also have some for the little guys, some just basic feelings check ins. These are pictures of all different emotions on a little poster. And I just hand it to them, and I say, find an emotion that looks like you. How are you feeling? This is great if their emotional vocabulary isn't extensive, and so they can't really explain how they might be feeling. Or maybe it's more than just sad, maybe or more than just angry. Maybe they're shocked or scared or worried. So I will give them the feelings check in where they can pick the picture. Some other things that I do with them are brick and a balloon. So what's your brick? What's holding you down? Or what's your balloon? What is lifting you up? What's making your day? Other check ins that are similar to that are glow and grow, high and low, pits and peak or sweet and sour. And some of the others I do are a series of three things. So you might be familiar with the rose, the thorn, and the bud. So tell us one good thing about your day today. The thorn, the thing that wasn't so great, or the bud, the something that you're looking forward to. We also do goal penalty and World Cup tree stump or forest sunshine. Thunderstorm and Rainbow sail Anchor Wind home Run Strikeout or World Series natlin Valley Horizon sunflower Weed Garden I have one that's an ice cream themed which is Scoop Splat or Pile High where the ice cream is just know pile high of ice cream on the cone. Splat is when it kind of falls on the ground or just a Scoop is just your single scoop ice cream cone. And then we have yay. Nay or hip hooray. So what is the good thing? What's the not so good thing and what are you looking forward to? Well, these are just some of the check ins that I use. And like I said, I have a variety because I like to switch it up a bit. But these check ins are really they've been a great addition. I have a special treat for you guys as listeners. If you go to the Show Notes today, I will have a link for a free check in for you so that you can check it out, use it with your own kids and see what it's all about. I am trying to put together a huge list of them for everyone. So if you have some that you love that are your favorites, let me know so that I can add them to the list and let you guys know about them too, because I did steal a few of these from some of our members in the Facebook group. But once again, these are great. And if you have some, I want to know because we're going to share them out with the world. Anyway, friends, I hope that this was helpful. I hope that you will, if you're not using some check in, is that you will try it. Go to the Show Notes, grab the one that I have there for you for free. And until next time, have a great week.

Carol: Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the Show Notes and at Slash podcast. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind.

Carol: To leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. Want to connect?

Carol: Send me a DM on Facebook or.

Carol: Instagram at counseling essentials.

Carol: Until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.




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