Celebrating Counseling Month: Tips & Strategies for Helping Students

April celebrates our wonderful counselors across the nation and the ongoing efforts made on their part to help students develop a skill set that will enable them to live their most happy and healthy life.

 

As an SLP in the schools, I've learned a variety of ways to help support these students when I can using some very simple and effective strategies. It's safe to say that many of these students do not show up to their speech language sessions without their anger, stress or sadness. After all, when you're working with humans, you're working with all of our beautiful complexities.

 

Below are a few strategies I use with all students, most notably with those who are at-risk:

  1. Develop a strong rapport: Trust is built on consistency, congruency, and consideration. Make sure you are displaying these at all times when working with students - they are watching. Some students might require more time to build trust due to hypervigilance and that's okay. Without trust, no progress will be made. Keep connection first and re-attune to them as needed.

  2. Be on the lookout for developing negative core beliefs: We all have them and our students are no different. These negative core beliefs develop through repetition and emotion and become more solidified as children become older, affecting everything they do. Young children do not have the cognitive capacity to understand the complexities of the world and make situations mean something about themselves or others (e.g., "I am bad," "I am not smart," "People ignore me," etc.). If I notice a child start to engage in negative self-talk, I will have them become detectives to find the opposing evidence in order to disprove their belief. The important thing is that they must come up with it themselves so that it has an emotion attached to it. The earlier these are targeted, the most likely they will be negated.

  3. Be vulnerable: Vulnerability is a serious strength and children love honesty. When working with students, I will oftentimes share silly and embarrassing stories about myself to help alleviate expectations, foster connection, and normalize being imperfect. 

  4. Develop self-acceptance and self-advocacy skills: Your role as an SLP is not to 'fix" children because they are not broken. Emphasize their existing skills and build on those to increase overall self-acceptance. Model the idea that it is okay to be dependent at times as well all are - this builds community. Teach students how to advocate for their needs so that they know they can and should be honored and accepted. I personally target this by having students complete a Speech Language Customer Satisfaction Survey Form in which they rate their experience and write in things they would like to do in sessions.

  5. Personal goals: Help students identify their personal goals, as well as breaking them down into smaller components, and using their resources to achieve them. This builds overall curiosity and empowerment by using their interests. Remember, all children do well when they CAN. So give them the tools and respect required to help build confidence, success, and an overall growth mindset.

 

Author: Griffin Parrott

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. The content is based on the author's personal experiences, research, and opinions. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified professional or expert before making any decisions or taking action based on the information provided in this blog.

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