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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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To Praise or Be Amazed: What’s the Difference?

April 17, 20231 min read

I often talk about the “mindset” of the solution focused approach, which broadly covers not only questions, but reactions. One way I used the mindset as a school counselor and later, as a therapist, was to always pay attention to how I reacted when I met a student, parent, or teacher who wanted me to fix their problem. No matter what the dilemma was, I truly believed that inside the human in front of me was an expert. My job was then to ask questions that uncovered that expert and to bring that expertise into the conversation. 

One way to ensure that the student, parent, or teacher recognizes their expertise is to praise less and be amazed more! When we praise, we are the experts. Some students even become dependent on our praise. But when we are amazed and curious about even the smallest action, the student, parent, or teacher becomes the expert. You often see their mood shift too as we share our amazement. They become less anxious. They smile. It doesn’t matter whether the student is failing, the teacher is burned out, or the parent is upset; the self-efficacy that develops from being asked how they each accomplished something that worked is huge. 

Here are some examples of conversational differences between simply praising and simply being amazed.

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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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