49. Individual Counseling Like A Pro
Episode 4928th February 2024 • Counselor Chat Podcast • Carol Miller, School Counselor
00:00:00 00:13:42

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In this episode of the Counselor Chat Podcast, we are diving into the realm of individual counseling. With a focus on making each session purposeful and impactful, I am sharing practical strategies and insights drawn from my own experience in the field.

Key Takeaways:

  • Intentional Structure: One of the main points I really want to drive home is the importance of intentionally structuring our individual counseling sessions. It's all about setting clear objectives and creating a framework that follows a psychoeducational approach. When we have a purpose for each session, we can ensure that we're effectively addressing the specific needs and challenges of our students.
  • Examples of Session Frameworks: I shared some real-life examples in the episode to illustrate how we can structure sessions to meet the diverse needs of our students. Whether it's helping younger students develop play skills or supporting older students coping with family changes, tailoring our sessions to individual needs is key.
  • Setting Clear Objectives: Clear objectives are essential for guiding our sessions and fostering meaningful conversations with students. By establishing goals, we can empower our students to navigate challenges and develop essential skills that will serve them well beyond our counseling sessions.

Tune in to this episode of the Counselor Chat Podcast to gain valuable insights and practical strategies for making individual counseling purposeful and impactful. Let's empower and support students together!

Individual Counseling Links 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. Thanks for joining me for this week's episode of Counselor chat. If you were with me last week, you know that we talked all about what should we do when those referrals start coming in, and we need to. Hmm, should I put the student in individual or in group counseling? And so we talked all about kind of distinguishing between who should go to individual counseling versus who should maybe start in group counseling, even though that referral might be by a teacher for individual counseling for that student. Well, this week I really wanted to dive in to what we should do to make our individual counseling really purposeful. Now, we talked a little bit last week, too, that in our scope of our counseling program, individual counseling is the most restrictive environment. And so when we are looking at a program for a student, we always, of course, want to look at the least restrictive environment, but that isn't always possible for all our kids. So when we are doing individual counseling, we really need to make sure that it's intentional, it's structured, and it's really psychoeducational in nature because we want to help them develop skills that they're lacking skills so that we can move them actually down a level so that they can go into group counseling or they can return to the regular education setting, which is really no counseling at all. So when we are doing individual counseling, I think it really is kind of a cornerstone of what we do as counselors. It's where we get to really connect with students one on one, provide them with support, and really help them navigate those challenges that they're facing. But like I said before, it's really crucial that our individual sessions, they're intentional, they're structured, and they're psychoeducational. I have a lot of counselors ask me, what should I do with the kids? Because I feel like I'm running out of things. I don't know what to talk to them about. Or sometimes it's like pulling teeth. I don't know what to do to keep that conversation flowing. And I think what you need to really do is think about the intention there. We want our kids to talk and disclose and to share with us their thoughts and their feelings, but sometimes we need to have a structure to that. And so if we have a clear purpose of what we're doing for each session, then we're really addressing the specific issues that our kids facing, and we're actually then providing them the tools and the discussion starters that they need to talk about the issues. And so if we are trying to help our students with stress or anxiety, we can really set down a specific course of what we're going to be doing with them for the six or so weeks that we're going to be meeting with them. I wanted to share with you a little bit some of the sessions that I do with my students and how I kind of break them down so that we have these six weeks of kind of like an intense, here's what we're talking about type of situation so that we can really try to get to the root of their problems, make them feel better, and give them the skills they need to handle and face the challenges that are in front of them. And it could be all different kinds of things, because some of our kids, they come to us or they refer to us for things like maybe play skills. Maybe they're just not playing with their peers appropriately. I see a lot of that in the younger grades, like kindergarten. And some of my kindergartners, they're just not ready to be moved into a group counseling situation where they're learning to play with their peers. And I run a lot of those groups, actually. But if I am working on play skills with maybe a kindergarten like kindergartner, my sessions will follow something like the first week we're going to really talk about the rules of play and why it's essential to really follow the rules. And I want kids to say I can follow the rules when I play a game. Then we're going to talk about cooperative play, and I might show them how to engage in play, that we take turns and we work together on something. I also, in the next session will probably talk about displaying effort. Are we really trying? Are we just giving up and doing whatever? Are we sitting there and are we focusing? Are we attending? And then the next session might be waiting their turn because we don't want kids to jump ahead of someone else or forget that there's other people involved. We also need to be able to talk about expressing our feelings. And that might be another session, maybe my fifth sessions. And so we're going to be able to express our feelings appropriately when we win or we lose a game, because how many kids do you have that? When they lose? It's like the world is over and we have to talk about how do we handle that? How do we change that? What is the appropriate behaviors to have when we lose? And then how do we handle conflict? And that would be a whole nother session on itself. So how do we follow the rules on the playground, or how do we resolve conflicts if we're on the playground or in the classroom or wherever? How do we handle those things so that we can be around the other kids without an explosion or throwing things or yelling or displaying a behavior that makes others feel unsafe? And so that would be maybe the six weeks that I would be working with a kid for something like play skills. But I see students for individual counseling for more than just play skills. So let me pick something for somebody that's older. For example. I get a lot of kids that will come down, or teachers will ask me to see, or parents will ask me to see, because their parents are in the process of some really big family changes, usually an incarceration or a divorce or a separation. And so there's some really big feelings right there. And these are kids that I would want to go into a group, but when they're right in the heat of it all, it might be too intense for them to actually talk about all these changes with peers, we might need to give them a little bit of time, let them get through it a little bit, experience it, before adding them into a group of students with the same situations. And so in a family changes group, I might be talking about our feelings. So the first session will talk about feelings, how we're able to identify feelings that are surrounding their family changes. The next week, we'll talk about things that they can control. The third session, we talk about things like getting rid of our guilt and normalizing those feelings of guilt and how to reframe guilty thoughts. The next session would be on coping skills. How can we manage these difficult feelings that we have? The next session would be my support system. Who can our students go to when they need support when they're not in school? And then in our last session, we would do something like positive affirmations or talk about our self esteem because we still matter and it's not our fault for any of these changes, and we are still worthy, so we don't want them down on themselves. So we'll talk about that. And so these are just a couple examples of how I really break things down. And when I'm in the individual sessions, I will have some worksheets for them or some games, or I'll have some questions that will relate to these topics and to my objectives for each week when we're maybe playing a game, and I do play games with the students when they come down because when we are playing a game, it's a lot easier for them to talk to me because they don't usually have to look me directly in the eye and they're holding something and they're fidgeting with something and it makes it more natural. But I do have these objectives for each week when we're meeting so that it really focuses our talks. And when you focus your talks, you don't run out of things to say or to talk about or to really help them learn those skills they really need. And it does keep it purposeful, intentional, and really psycho educational. Now, if you are thinking, wow, this sounds really great, and I could use some of these, I could use some help in my individual counseling sessions. Well, I do have on TPT or even in the perks, if you're a member of the perks, a lot of resources for individual counseling, and I have set up little curriculums for each one that has these weekly goals in it, that has data collection sheets for the teachers, that has worksheets that can help stimulate the conversations as well as basic talking points for your session. I will say there's a big difference between my individual counseling groups and curriculum than there is for my group counseling because the individual definitely allows for more conversation. Because in a group, sometimes you can't have these really in depth conversations with kiddos because there's more than one. And so you're going to be talking about topics, but the kids are going to be really more interacting with one another in the group versus in the individual counseling session where you really want that one, kiddo, to really pour it all out. So there is a little bit different structure, but there's still a lot of meat to the whole curriculum. So if you're interested, I'll drop some links in the show notes so that you can check it out. And like I said, if you're in perks, they're always all there in perks all the time for you to download. So, my friends, I hope that this was helpful. There's so many more individual counseling that I do other than just family changes or play skills. Those are just two examples that I wanted to give you, but you can do the same for anger or grief or I like to also do a lot of grit and executive functioning with kiddos. And some just need, they really need some directed help and school skills and self esteem and really social skills. So like I said, if you need any help, let me know. You can check out TPT and get a few more ideas from there. But this is a topic that I really love to talk about. So if you have questions or you have suggestions, I would really love to hear them. So just drop me a message. I always think the best way to reach me is carol@counselingsentials.org send me an email, but you can always get a hold of me on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials. So until next time, my friends, 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@counselingessentials.org forward 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.

Carol: Want to connect?

Carol: Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now. Bye.




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