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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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Joy Catching and Keeping 101

September 26, 20222 min read

As a new grandparent of a one-year-old, I have been overwhelmed by the joy that a new grandchild brings.

Watching the joy in my grandson’s eyes when he sees his mom and dad, puts a new block into the right hole, grabs at a bouncing balloon, or his dog’s tail, there is a joy that emerges into a priceless smile or laugh.

As a result, he does the same things again and again.

It makes me wonder how great it could be if somehow, we could help students experience that joy more often, as they grow from the tiniest humans to the bigger humans.

The solution focused approach is a joy catcher. When we talk with students, bypass problem details and ask what they want, their faces always change. And, once they get into thinking about what they need or want - instead of being told what they need or want - self-efficacy emerges, along with joy.  

So, this week, whether you are talking with a preschooler or a senior in high school... listen, bypass the problem details, and then BE A JOY CATCHER!

Here are some ideas to try:


“So, tell me, how do you wish things would be?”

“If I had a magic wand, or sprinkled pixie dust over you this morning, what would be better when you go back to class? What would you be doing that others might like?” (x5)

Follow up later in the day with “what’s better?”  

Middle School

“So, tell me, what are your best hopes/wishes for our time right now? How would you rather things be for yourself today?”

“Let’s say, for the rest of today and maybe tomorrow, that happens somehow. What might your friends (and teacher) see you doing that would tell them things were better?” (x5)

Follow up in a day or two with “what’s better?”

High School

“What are your best hopes for our conversation today?”
“Suppose a miracle happens just for the rest of this week, and your best hopes begin to happen. What might your (friends and/or teachers/parents) notice you doing that would tell us things were better for you?”

Follow up in a week with “what’s better?” 

And, for yourselves, dear friends, watch out this week when you experience a little joy. Notice what is going on, where you are, who you are with that helps joy to emerge.

Catch the joy.

Then, keep it with you by doing more of what’s working.

May the solution force be with you.

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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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