The counselor is not the strategy. The counselor teaches the strategies.
by Allison Edwards, Author of 15-Minute Counseling Techniques That Work
In the fall of 2000, I began my career as a school counselor. I had gone to a very nice graduate school where I had learned very nice theories and developed fanciful ideas about what my job would be like and what kind of counselor I would become. I was excited and motivated but when I walked into my first job as the only counselor to a diverse school of over 600 students, I had no idea what to do. I knew what I thought about counseling but I didn’t have the strategies or techniques to actually help the kids who were flooding my office.
So I bought every book I could find on counseling techniques and pieced together a set of tools that would work with virtually any kid in any setting. It took over a year to get the tools organized and several years to figure out what tools would work with specific kids in specific settings. By the time I transitioned to private practice in 2008, I had a notebook of tools that I have been using ever since. I put some of those tools in my first book, Why Smart Kids Worry but that book was aimed at parents. Up until now, I had never shared this information with counselors.
A little over a year ago, I began giving an event talk titled, 15-Minute Counseling Techniques: What you Didn’t Learn in Grad School. I wanted to give counselors the very tools I had been missing early in my career. I shared how Square Breathing helps kids relax the mind and body and how All Tangled Up gives kids a concrete way to understand abstract emotions. I shared how making a remote control out of clay would help kids learn how to change negative thoughts. I also shared the words I began this article with: the counselor is not the strategy. The counselor teaches strategies.
As counselors, we are often asked to fix problems. We are sought out by teachers, parents (and even kids themselves) to sort out situations and make kids feel better. But that is not our primary job. Our primary job is to teach kids how to help themselves. We won’t always be there. We will change jobs, move away, be out sick, and more recently, have to see kids virtually for counseling sessions. But if we help kids grow the wings that will help them fly on their own, we won’t have to be there all the time.
My new book, 15-Minute Counseling Techniques that Work is for all the counselors out there who need support. This is for counselors who are overworked, overtired and serving an overwhelming number of children. But mostly, it’s for the kids who need help learning how to do it on their own. They might want someone to fix their problem at the moment but what they are really wanting is the confidence, self-esteem, and ability to handle whatever comes their way. We can offer that by lending a gentle hand, teaching an applicable tool, and helping them believe they can fly on their own.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support and all that you do for children!