50. Structuring Your Individual Counseling Sessions
Episode 506th March 2024 • Counselor Chat Podcast • Carol Miller, School Counselor
00:00:00 00:13:44

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In this episode, we are heading into the art of crafting purposeful counseling sessions. Whether you're new to individual counseling or looking to refine your approach, this episode offers practical insights and strategies to make your sessions effective and engaging.

Episode Highlights:

  • Setting Clear Objectives
  • Personalized Check-Ins for Connection
  • Focus on Grit and Growth Mindset
  • Engaging Activities to Reinforce Learning
  • Guided Discussions for Insight
  • Real-World Application in School
  • Structured Approach for Results
  • Homework and Follow-Up for Continuity
  • Empowering Students for Success

Resources Mentioned:

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 here. Thank you for joining me this week for our episode of counselor chat. I'm excited that you're here with me, and if you've been following along, you know that the last couple weeks, we've really been talking about our individual counseling sessions. So in episode 48, we really dove into what do we do when those referrals start pouring in? Do we put them in individual versus group counseling and how we kind of determine that. Last week's episode, we really dove into how we should develop our counseling sessions over the course of several weeks and making them intentional and purposeful and really psychoeducational. But this week, I really wanted to hone in more on what do we actually do during that session. So taking a deeper look into just an ordinary session, when we are talking about our individual sessions, we really want to have a clear purpose for what we're doing. But the structure is also really important, too. We want them to be effective, and we want them to be productive. And one way to really structure our sessions is to really follow a consistent format. For example, I really like to start each session by just checking in with the kiddo to see how they've been doing since their last meeting. And from there, we kind of talk about what the purpose or the objective of that week's session is going to be. And when we're doing that. Right now, I have an individual session going on for one of my guys, and we're really talking about grit and growth mindset. And I started him off in group counseling, and he was referred to me because there really was a lack of motivation on his part. I mean, he's not really doing any work in his classroom, and when he's sitting there in class, he really looks like he's just spacing out into the unknown. And so we put him in group, hoping that by teaching him some study skills and really talking about being a really good student learner, maybe that would improve some things. But he's slow to start. He's really unmotivated. And so I am pulling him now, and we're working a little bit more intently, and we're really looking at grit and growth mindset. And so on. Our first week, I called him in. We started with our little check in. I think I started with something like, I have a variety of check ins, but it was, describe yourself in terms of the weather today. How are you feeling in terms of the weather? Are you the sunshine? Are you cloudy? Are you rain? Are you a thunderstorm? Where are you emotionally on the weather spectrum? And from there, because we knew each other, we already have a really good relationship, and I have them in class lessons and things like that. So that was our start. But then after that, we really started talking about the characteristics of grit. So this is really the objectives of our session for the day. And so we talked about how grit is passion and perseverance for really long term goals and how it plays a really significant role in our success. And then we talked really about the characteristics of grit, which are courage, so triumph over fear, being dependable, which is being thorough and careful purpose. So start and steadily continue on a path towards a goal, being resilient, which is the ability to recover quickly from any difficulties or obstacles, and having a passion, a sense of purpose to really accomplish our goals. So after we talked about our objectives and what Grit was and what we were going to be really talking about in the session, I started asking him a lot of discussion questions. And so this is also a pretty standard format that I have from session to session. So I asked him, because I wanted to know what he understood about my definition of grit and what it meant. And so I asked him things like, how would you explain grit to someone? Or how do you decide if and when to stop trying to pursue a goal? And do you think we are born with abilities, or is that something that we have to work on? Why is courage important when it comes to developing our grit? And what is a goal that you have and what are you doing to accomplish it? So after we talked for a little bit, I also then gave him a little activity. I like to do activities with kids because it also helps them focus in on what we're talking about, but it also encourages conversation. And because we are really working on motivation with him, I gave him some really fun little rebus challenges. The things like that take a little brain power to complete. Like, there's two words, noon and then good. And so what does that mean? What word is that supposed to be? And so it's supposed to be good afternoon is the word that we're looking for. Or there's three aids in a row, like in a line aid, and then underneath of an aid, and then underneath of an aid with an arrow pointing the first one. And so that means, like, first aid. And so there are little things like that. I'm not describing them really well and there's no picture, so it's hard to show you. But the little rebus, they're called rebus puzzles. And so we did some rebus puzzles together. And then from there, we talked about, was that challenging? Was it hard? Was it difficult? Did you have a strategy for solving any of the problems? And then how can we relate this, really to our schoolwork? And then we really talked about people with grit, and then how do we show grit? And each week, we kind of dove into another topic that had to do with grit and mindset and growth mindset. And our structure was still very similar. So we started with a check in. We went to kind of going over the objectives. We did some basic discussions, questions related to what we were talking about. We did some sort of activity, and then we talked about it and we processed it, and we said, how does this relate to school? And so every week, it's pretty much the same with the little guys. I might also play a game with the discussion questions, so I might have more discussion questions for them. And as we play each turn, they have to answer one of the questions. And then we really try to relate it to what's going on in their world and have some really rich conversations about that. And then sometimes I might give them, like, a little bit of homework with this kiddo. For the grit and growth mindset, his homework was, next week, I'm going to check in with you, too, and we're going to see how many times you felt like you were getting a little gritty in class. Like, were you trying a little bit more? How did you think that your week went? And so we'll talk about that. So each week is just pretty similar in structure, and it does give it real purpose to what we're doing and talking about, because when you are doing individual counseling, you really want to make sure that when the kids are done, that they're walking away with skills that they can use. And so having a structure in your sessions is really helpful. I can honestly say that when I first really started doing individual counseling, I didn't really do a lot unless I was in the high school level. And then all of that was really just conversational. And it might be like, what kinds of colleges are you looking at? Or what kinds of careers? Or tell me about what's going on in your relationship with this person, because I noticed that you're having some difficulties. But I also wasn't meeting them for five or six times because it was really very brief. And my role at the high school was more of working with kids and the traditional high school, get ready for college and careers and everything that comes after high school. And then when I moved to the middle school, I did work with a school psychologist and a social worker, and they primarily did all the individual counseling, and I did all the groups. So it really wasn't until I transitioned to elementary where I had to really start doing more, I want to say ais individual counseling. I also do Iep counseling with some of our kiddos, but I had to have a more structured approach rather than just conversation that didn't have a purpose to it, because when I did that, we weren't getting anywhere. We weren't solving any problems. So this was something that I had to learn as I went along. And having the structure and setting it up this way really has made a huge difference. So I know we want to talk to kids and love them and give them our support, and when we get those referrals that come into us to say, hey, you really need to see this kid and talk to them. We want to do that, but we have to give it some sort of structure. So I hope that this was helpful and that if you're interested in really seeing some more of what my curriculums that I have for individual counseling look like, I'm going to drop some links in the show notes so that you can take a look at that. If you have any questions, you know that you can always reach out to me at carol@counselingsentials.org I'm here for you. I've got you because we are in this together, and I think one of the things that make us better counselors is just learning and working and sharing ideas with one another. So I'm sharing this with you. I would love for you to share back with me some of the things that you do in your program, because that's how we get better. Anyway, my friends, like I said, I'll have some links in the show notes for you. I'd love for you to take a look at kind of what I'm doing and see if that could help you in your own counseling program. But 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 podcasts. Be sure to hit, follow, or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind to leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. Want to connect? Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials until till next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.




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