The counselor interviewed became a school counselor because she loves children and feels a strong sense of purpose to give back to society by helping children. She works with children between the ages of about eight and twelve. The counselor started with a degree in educational psychology and chose to be a school counselor over other options such as a private counselor or family counselor. One of the main goals that the counselor described is careful listening. Listening is an important skill that allows children feel more comfortable with sharing their true feelings or problems. She also listed empathy as a critical skill towards the same end. When you empathize with children they are also far more likely to be more open and honest about the challenges they are experiencing.
The role of the counselor obviously depends on the individual perspective and professional identity that the counselor has developed. The professional identity process is dynamic and develops over time. One qualitative study focused on the development of this professional identity and found that conflict resolution was one of the most salient factors that influence the development of a professional identity (Brott & Myers, 2011). From the interview conducted, this seemed to fit the counselor's career development as well. She had learned many strategies through her background and her experience to help children feel more comfortable so that she could get as close as possible to whatever conflict they were experiencing in their lives.
Another role of school counseling that was identified in the literature was for the counselor to help students become self-regulator learners. Although this wasn't covered in the interview, self-regulating learning can empower students toward greater academic performances (Lapan, Kardash, & Turner, 2002). However, there are different levels of conflict that students face and focusing on learning strategies is often at a low priority than other more critical conflicts.
The counselor interviewed stated that they had a great deal of freedom to develop their own techniques in their work setting with a few exceptions. Furthermore, they saw their role as a mediator between the schools administration and the children's parents. There are also a set of school policies that govern the counselors role but these are not too constricting. The counselor stated that they faced issues being involved with counseling in Lebanon because in the Middle East the culture does not fully embrace the profession of counseling. For example, when parents are asked to be involved in a session they often respond by saying something to the effect of "that there kid is not crazy or sick and does not need counseling" which is a common response. However, some parents are more responsive and it is entirely dependent on the unique situation and the parents.
The counselor interview mainly uses play theory and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) however mentioned that play theory is generally more effective in making children feel more comfortable. Furthermore, in her experience the counselor stated that it generally took about the sittings before the child would open up to them. The efficacy of play therapy as a psychological intervention has been heavily debated in the literature however there is some evidence that suggest that it has positive effects for humanistic treatments which would support the counselor's experience (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005).
The counselor interviewed stated that she never would break her confidentiality agreement with students unless it was an emergency case. She instructs the children that anything said in a session is confidential. However, if something bad comes up in a session it is her responsibility to inform the schools administration and take some kind of action. In such a case the counselor will inform the student that she will have to break the confidentiality agreement. However, with children this age it is a rare occurrence that such a situation presents itself. In the case of abuse, the counselor would contact the parents and inform them of the abuse. This was a source of frustration with the counselor because there are not many options for child care services and as a result it is the decision of the parents to take action in most cases.
Group vs. Individual Counseling
The counselor stated that she typically performs individual counseling. In her experience, she has found that children are able to talk more freely about their problems when they are alone in session. Furthermore, she stated that children in the age ranges she deals with have a lot of energy and are pretty hyper. Therefore when more than one student is together they have the tendency to play and carry on. Another issue with group sessions at this age is that children might not respect the confidentiality of other students. Therefore, because of all these reasons, all of the sessions are generally one on one with the counselor and the students.
Bratton, S., Ray, D., Rhine, T., & Jones, L. (2005). The Efficacy of Play Therapy With Children: A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment Outcomes. Professional Psychology, 376-390.
Brott, P., & Myers, J. (2011, May). Development of Professional School Counselor Identity. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from Development: http://www.nice2cq.com/hasava/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/%D7%9E%D7%90%D7%9E%D7%A8-%D7%9E%D7%97%D7%A7%D7%A8-%D7%9C%D7%93%D7%95%D7%92%D7%9E%D7%90-%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%90%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%94-%D7%9E%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%92%D7%A0%D7%AA.pdf
Lapan, R., Kardash, C., & Turner, S. (2002). Empowering students to become self-regulated learners. Professional School Counseling, 257-265.
1. What is your educational background and what influenced you to become a school counselor?
Background is in educational psychology. She chose to become a school counselor instead of a private or family counselor because she loves kids and loves to help them. It's the satisfaction of giving back to society.
2. What do you see as the main role of the school counselor?
Main role is to help the students with their problems and listen to what they have to say. It's important to empathize with the student to try and get him close to you so he can open up to you.
3. What is the average age of the students you meet with?
Infant to Junior year in elementary school. (between the ages of 3 and 12 years)
4. What is the role of the school counselor in relation to teachers, parents, and administrators?
The role of the counselor is to abide by the school policies but is free to practice his own techniques. The rules are usually procedures a counselor must follow when reporting on a student or when meeting with a student's parents. The counselor is the mediator between the school's administration and the parents.
5. What types of problems do you face as a school counselor concerning students and parents?
There are always problems, especially in Lebanon. The culture plays a big role. In the Middle East, counseling and therapy are still practices that are not fully accepted yet. Whenever a parent is asked to be involved in a session he/she says that her kid is not crazy or sick and does not need counseling.
However, not all parents are like that, some are understanding and cooperative. It all depends on the person's background and culture and what society you live in.
6. Do you conduct group or individual counseling? Or both?
Conduct individual counseling because students are hyper as it is. It is hard to have a student talk about his problems with other students with him. It is better to have the students counseled individually. Another point is that you cannot trust students at this age to keep what is being said in these sessions in confidence. They might break their confidentiality agreement.
7. What kinds of techniques do you use as a school counselor?
Play theory (play games with the students to make them feel comfortable).
CBT (cognitive behavioral theory). Play theory is more effective.…