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Monday Ideas for School Counselors

Weekly articles for school counselors with ideas on how to resolve typical school situations with students, teachers and parents using the solution focused approach.

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If It’s Not Working Going Right, Go Left

September 11, 20232 min read

Have you ever found yourself trying to assist a school client—be it a student, a parent, or a teacher—only to meet with little success? If you're like most of us, you've likely experienced that sense of helplessness, thinking, "There's nothing more I can do. I must wait for them to decide to change.

However, waiting indefinitely can be an unwise strategy, and time may not be on your side. Plus, whether you are a school counselor or teacher, helping a school client will help YOU!

Making a shift in your approach, perhaps even veering left, can be daunting. But here's the silver lining: You don't have to navigate this change alone.

Today, on this special Monday, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on a school client you've tried to support unsuccessfully. Then, ask yourself these vital questions:

  1. "On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 signifies minimal effort and 10 denotes putting forth maximum effort, where did you find yourself at the end of your efforts?"

  2. "On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 signifies the school client contributing very little to the effort, and 10 indicates their maximum effort, where were they at the conclusion?"

If you discover that your score exceeds theirs, it's a clear sign that it's time to consider going left. Then explore opportunities for collaboration, such as the following:

Lanaya, we've explored various approaches to help you make friends, but none have given you the desired results. Today, let's brainstorm together, seeking new ways for you to build meaningful friendships. Your well-being matters to me.

Michael, it appears challenging for you to get through recess without difficulties. Can we sit down and discuss other ways  that  you can have better recess experiences? My goal is to see you enjoy playtime every day.

Kenny, I asked you show respect to your classmates yesterday, but it didn't go as planned. I don't want to refer you again. I want you to be a part of our class. Can you share your ideas on how we can work together in this class so that both you and your peers can learn?

Going left may seem uncertain and unsettling, so don't be discouraged if you don't immediately receive clear answers to these questions. In fact, if your school client appears uncertain, avoid pressuring them. You may find just the suggestion of working together suppresses many problematic situations.

Above all, refrain from suggesting anything. Instead, enlist the school client's assistance to ensure that the responsibility for change rests with them. This approach will reduce your frustration and resentment while fostering openness leading to small victories.

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Dr Linda Metcalf

Linda Metcalf is the best-selling author of Counseling Toward Solutions and 10 other books. Linda is a former middle school teacher, all-level certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor supervisor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Texas. She is a Professor at Texas Wesleyan University.

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