Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Free List of Counseling Worksheets for Working With Challenging Students

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ahhhhh...Spring Break!  For the last couple of days,  I decided to actually enjoy my break and not do any "work."  So, my chihuahua Belle and I went on a You Tube music video spree for about three hours.  However, after the third hour,  I had had enough and started going through my For High School Counselor's Face Book feed.  Going through my posts, I noticed that many of the worksheets I had shared were getting a lot of likes.  In fact, I liked them as well and thought that many of them would have been helpful with many of my challenging students.  Therefore, I decided to break from my mindless music video binge and write a post about these handouts and how school counselors can use them with their challenging students.  


See even Belle is tired of watching videos...
Disclaimer: These handouts are not my creation and come from several different sources. I have categorized each worksheet under a specific topic, but I feel that many can be used for multiple purposes. 

Anxiety

If you are like me, you may have noticed that anxiety has increased among our students.  Trying to get students to self regulate their emotions is not always easy and school counselors seldom have time to effectively calm down one student.  What I like about these two activities is that they give the student individual space to work out those anxious feelings so that he or she can regain equilibrium.  

Simple Art Activity that Provides Stress Relief 

The goal of the activity is to help the student release pent up emotions until he or she feels in control. 

Materials needed for this activity:
colored pencils or markers
black pen
sturdy paper
music
a safe space for the student to draw
blind fold 

See the above link for directions on how to use this activity with your anxious students. 

The Movie in Your Head is Not Real

This worksheet allows students to compare their irrational fears to a horror movie. Students are directed to draw out their most disturbing fear as though it was a horror movie.  The student should put in as many details as possible and even give it a title. After completing this activity, the student is given series of observations to make about their fear.

Attendance Issues

This is a major issue for my district! We have an incredible attendance issue and few answers to solve this problem.  However, if a student can understand the importance of school attendance, then he or she has a higher probability of maintaining regular school attendance. 

Secondary School Attendance Plan

To this day, I have a difficult time working with students who are chronically absent.  If you have students with attendance concerns and you are not sure what to do, I suggest checking out Attendance Works.  Attendance Works has provided a free editable handout to help students create healthy school attendance goals.  Also, consider viewing the Attendance Works webinar on school attendance. 

Bullying

Okay, this is another huge issue in our district and one that requires knowledge and education by the school professional.  After following all the legal mandates when reporting bullying, it is important that we know how to support our students during a bullying episode.

Bullying Action Plan from Pacers

Pacers has provided a action plan that takes a student who has experienced, witnessed, or participated in bullying and breaks it down into actionable and realistic steps.  By the completing the plan, the student is encouraged to find realistic and healthy ways of working through this difficult situation.

Depression

Although we cannot diagnose a student with depression, we often notice changes in behavior that can include extreme sadness and isolation from others. According to psychobiologists, isolation has just as high of a mortality rate as smoking. 

Building a Support System

We know that students who are sad tend to isolate themselves which can be very dangerous.  One strategy when working with students, who may be in this situation, is to create a list of contacts who they can call when they are feeling alone.  This form will allow students to think of a broad list of people from adults to peers who may be sources of support.  

Drama

I don't know about you, but I detest drama and I don't have time built in my schedule to continually address it!!! If you work with a bunch of 9th graders then you really need some tools about how to teach them to kill the drama in their day-to-day lives.  


I love this illustration and have used it with my students, who engage in drama, to help them understand this unhealthy cycle.  This link will connect you to the explanation of the drama triangle, the role of each person in the drama, and tips on how to delete the drama.  



Emotions


Unfortunately, many of our students have unmanaged emotions that can get them into some serious trouble. Teaching a group of students how to manage emotions can be a productive use of our time. I want to share some fun ways you can help students learn to manage their emotions effectively by using the fortune telling game by Joel Shaul.

Exploring Upsetting Emotions Fortune Telling


I remember playing a game with my friends in which we would try to predict who we would marry, how many kids we would have, how many rooms would be in our homes, and the type of car we would drive. It was fun and it opened a variety of options whether positive or negative.  

Joel Shaul who manages the Autism Teaching Strategies Website has created a great strategy for using this simple game to work with students who have a difficult time managing their emotions.  Shaul suggests these directions for using the fortune telling game with students.

1. Ask the student to spell out the name of his/her mom, dad, best friend, dog, cat, or whatever you like. Have the student move the fortune teller for each letter.
2. This will take the student to either a "problem thought" or a "new thought."
3. Have the student open the petal.
4. Tell the student to pick, A, B, C, or D.
5. Have the student read what he or she picked.
6. If it is a problem thought, ask the student "When have you had a thought like this?" What kind of thoughts could help you when this happens?"
7. If it is a new thought, ask the student "When is a time you needed a thought like this in order to get over a problem?"

See an illustration of Shaul's free downloadable fortune teller activity.

Joel Shaul's fortune telling game
Low Self-Esteem

Another issue many of our students deal with on a daily basis is the feelings of low self worth.  In fact, I had a student for three years who came to see me weekly and never had one positive word to say about anything.  She always felt that life had dealt her a raw deal and that she could not do anything right.  I tried my best to encourage her, but even through my best efforts she never accepted my well intended affirmations. Now I see that her affirmations needed to come from within herself and not just from me.

Self Esteem Journal from Grow Therapy

This seven day journal can help students, who see life through a "negative" lens, look for the positives during their week.


Rage

I have had my share of students who came to my office in a rage.  I learned very early that you cannot reason with a kid who is in a rage and tell them to "calm down."  The sooner you can learn this the better!  So, what do you do when you have a kid in a full out fit of rage?  

Calm Down Kit for Older Kids


If you have ever had a teen to go into a temper tantrum or fit of rage, you know that it is useless to try to reason with them until they are able to calm themselves.  One key that I found that really worked with students was trying to find strategies to help them to self soothe before they went into a rage.  See this list for ideas of ways for students to self soothe.

An Emotional Emergency Kit

This is an additional resource for managing everyday mental health.

Self Harm

Self harming behaviors are prevalent in our students. Whether it includes cutting, burning, binge drinking, or unprotected sex, it is important to identify and get the students the help that they need. If you have students who self harm. it is important to provide them with strategies for self regulation.  Besides the resource below, check out how to make your own comfort kit for students.

Self Harm CBT Worksheets


This 81 page CBT workbook gives copious strategies for working with students who exhibit self harming behaviors.  The end result is that the student walks away with a toolkit of healthy activities that take the place of the self harming behaviors.


Social Skills

There is a misguided notion that students have acquired the social skills they need in society by the time they reach high school. With this misconception, it is important that we have teachable moments with students that include  teaching skills like knocking on the door before entering a room, saying "thank you", or waiting your turn to speak. Again, teaching social skills can be fun and Joel Shaul provides another great activity through the fortune telling game.

Social Skills Paper Fortune Teller

This is another great paper activity to explore different ways to handle social situations. In addition, the author suggests that this activity can be used with students who have Autism.

How to use the Paper Fortune Teller activity by Joel Shaul.

I hope this list of worksheets has been helpful to you!  As always, if you have some ideas, I would love to add your suggestions to this list. Feel free to email me at cynthia_morton@yahoo.com.










Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tips for the School Counselor When Working With a Negative Parent-Coworker

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Okay, can you believe it is the end of March?  I have been so busy with work and consulting that I did not realize until this evening that I had not posted on my blog.  Instead of coming up with a last minute post, I wanted to share an exciting opportunity that I was given last month to be a guest author on Confident Counselors blog!  

Several months ago, I contacted Confident Counselors about an idea for a post on working with difficult parents who just happen to be colleagues at work.  Fortunately, they liked my vision and decided to publish my post. So, I have decided to share this guest article with my audience and I hope you frequent the Confident Counselors blog!



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Making a Safe Place for Students Who Identify as Furries, Therians, and Otherkins

Sunday, February 25, 2018
Recently my daughter and I were having a conversation about "furries" as I was getting dressed for work (we have a lot of random conversations).  It had been several years since I had a student who actually dressed as an animal and it brought back memories of him sitting in my office crying because other students made fun of him.  In our conversation, my daughter was quick to point out that there are whole communities of people who self identify as animals, elves, vampires, dragons, and so on. As she was talking, it occurred to me that the majority of school counselors are unconsciously unaware of their existence in the school community. I shared with her that this was a great idea for a blog post and she rolled her eyes at me.  Undeterred by her negative reaction, I decided it would be helpful to write about these subcultures that are often hidden in our mainstream culture and schools.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on students who identify as "furries," "therians," or "otherkins."  This post is from my limited research and my expertise with working with students over the last two decades. I always welcome any comments or corrections.

The Animal Mystique

Since early times, human beings have had a fascination with both the animal and mythical worlds.  In fact, think of all the novels and movies about werewolves, vampires, elves, fairies that have become popular in our current culture.

The Twilight Series introduced teens to humans who could take other forms

To many, there is something fascinating about animal and mythical creatures. As a child, my mom shared with me that I wanted to be a dog. She told me one summer I actually loved playing in the dog house with our German Shepherd despite her warnings that I was going to get into trouble. Bullet was never judgmental, he was always kind, and he loved me no matter what I did to him. When my friends came around to my house, Bullet was very protective of me which frightened them (to be honest they probably should have been scared because some days I wanted to turn him out on them when we didn't get along). So, in a way, I can understand why some people would rather identify with animals as they are seen as symbols of power and safety from an unsafe world.


Now 30 years later, we have Delilah.  She is in time out for not being a good listener.
So now that we know an attraction to the animal and mystic realms is real, I want to share a little bit about these subcultures of students who truly identify as animal, elves, and fairies.  I believe in order to be a culturally informed school counselor, it is important to know the appropriate terminology of students who self identify as animals or other beings so you are prepared if they show up at your door. 

Furries, Therians, & Otherkins



According to Psychology Today, "furries" are "fans of media that features anthropomorphic animals" or, in other words, animals that talk, walk, and act like humans. Demographically, this group consists of white males with above average IQ in their teens and early 20s with an interest in computers, video games, and anime. Also, "furries" are seven times more likely to identify as transgender and five times more likely to identify as homosexual. In addition, Furscience found that many "furries" create a "fursona" they can identify with (fox, wolf, cat, etc.) and may wear very elaborate costumes and paraphernalia such as animal ears and tails. Many, who identify as "furries", feel safety in a social community that will not judge them for their unconventional beliefs. Taking it one step further is the "therians". "Therians" are a small subset of "furries" who believe they are spiritually connected to their animal and are trapped in their human body. On a different level there are "otherkins". Through the revolution of the internet in the early 1990's, a term was coined by self-identifying elf,  R’ykanadar Korra’ti, that identified individuals who thought of themselves as nonhuman. This new term was know as "otherkin." Like "therians", "otherkins" feel trapped in their human body and spiritually connect to other nonhumans like elves, dragons, vampires, and other mystical creatures.

According to Furscience,  for those who identify as "furries", "therians", or "otherkins", the research indicates that the majority of them have never shared their interests with family members, often feel socially isolated, and believe that society would mistreat them for their beliefs. In addition, many who seek counseling for depression or anxiety were driven away because of the therapist's focus on their beliefs rather than their mental health issues. Therefore, researchers suggest that membership in this culture is seen as part of maintaining their psychological well-being from an unsafe society.

Now that we have some minuscule understanding of what it means to self identify as a "furry", "therian", "otherkin", what can school counselors do to support these students?



Tips for School Counselors to Support Students Self Identifying as "Furries", "Therians", or "Otherkins"


1.  Make yourself available and visible to all students.  

As you would make yourself available to a student with an academic issue or a student who identifies as LGBTQ, making yourself known as a student advocate for all students is essential.  GLSEN offers a safe space kit that has stickers and posters that can be displayed in your office for students.  Since many "furries", "therians", and "otherkins" often identify as non-heterosexual, this may be a good way for them to know that you are open to seeing all students.

2.  Be supportive of students who share their differences.

Whether it is self-injurious behavior, coming out as LGBTQ, or identifying as a "furry" or "otherkin", being supportive of the person is paramount.  What does support look like for a student who tells you something very personal?


3. Teach others to be an ally for those who are targets of bullying.

The Anti-Defamation League has published a list of six simple steps to help students to be supportive of others who may be facing bullying behavior.


4. Don't focus on their identity, but on the problem they want to work on.

Often students refuse to come to the school counselor because they are afraid they will be judged or thought of as "crazy".  In fact, many sites where "furries" and "otherkins" visit often express the fear of being thought of as mentally ill and locked up.   As a school counselor, it is important that we make all students feel comfortable that they can talk to us and we are not going to "freak out" if they share something personal with us.  So if a student comes to you feeling anxious and expresses that they are an elf, it is important you do not focus on the "elf" disclosure.  Providing the student with strategies for anxiety will be more helpful than discussing why they believe they are a elf.  

5.  Consult with colleagues and other therapist who may have worked with students who identify as one of these sub groups.

I can't say enough about how important it is to consult with other colleagues and experts.  In fact, I regularly consult with others and make a common practice to reach out if I am not sure how to work with a particular student.

6.  If you feel uncomfortable, refer but pursue additional training and supervision.
 
The 2016 ASCA Ethical Standards indicate that school counselors should...

"Refrain from referring students based solely on the school counselor’s personal beliefs or values rooted in one’s religion, culture, ethnicity or personal worldview. School counselors maintain the highest respect for student diversity. School counselors should pursue additional training and supervision in areas where they are at risk of imposing their values on students, especially when the school counselor’s values are discriminatory in nature. School counselors do not impose their values on students and/or families when making referrals to outside resources for student and/or family support."

Before writing this article, I have to admit I was anxious about working with students who self identify as one of these sub cultures.  However, now I am reminded that they are students who deserve to be treated like anyone else which makes me feel more at ease.  I am not saying I am an expert (by no means), but educating ourselves can alleviate a lot of fear about the unknown when working with these students.  I hope this post may be helpful if you have a student who reveals that he/she self identifies as one of these groups.  






Thursday, February 15, 2018

National Peer Helpers Appreciation/Recognition Week: March 19-23, 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018


I don't know if you have noticed, but I have not written a post in over a month (sigh).  Unfortunately, my life has been inundated with grant writing, training, and conferences so I have fallen short on keeping up with my high school counseling blog.  

Feeling the need to keep my blog current, I decided to come up for air long enough to post an event that means a lot to me as a peer helper coordinator.  Each year, the National Association for Peer Program Professionals sponsors a National Peer Helping Week. Not sure about National Peer Helping Week?  No worries!! Consider joining the National Association of Peer Program Professionals for their free February webinar.  This month's webinar will prepare peer helping coordinators on how to promote and recognize their peer helping programs.  All participants will learn about National Peer Helping Week and how to use our free kit.



Date: February 26th
Time:  6:00 PM EST

National Peer Helper Week
March 19-23, 2018

2016 Peer Helper Ceremony

Celebrating my students at their school


Looking forward to writing regular informational posts soon!  

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Top School Counseling Blogs of 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

It is hard to believe that this is my fifth year anniversary for my blog!!!  Since its inception, my blog has been just a method for sharing my reflections, experiences, and thoughts with other high school counselors.  Maybe this will be the year for some expansion and graphic changes...who knows???  So to celebrate my anniversary, I decided to give a shout out to the other blogs that I regularly frequent and read.  I love each of these blogs for many different reasons, but they all have one thread in common...committed authors who love sharing with other school counselors.  I hope you will visit each blog and find some great resources, ideas, or even products to use in your practice.


My Top School Counseling Blogs for 2018


College Counselor Traci-I love Traci's creative posts, resources, and products.  Traci, a junior college counselor, has a gift for creating helpful resources and making exclusive products for school counselors.

Confident Counselor's Connection- Check out this monthly roundup of resources, products, best practices, articles, comic relief, blog posts, giveaways, and ideas in action . This blog is a labor of love by 20 counselor bloggers!!

Counselor's Corner-High School counselor Patrick O'Connor's blog contains great information for high school counselors and high school students. I am always impressed by his insightful posts!

Erin Luong's Reflection on Counselling, Education, Leadership, and Technology-Blog written by Alberta, Canadian school counsellor, Erin Luong.  Erin writes on a wide variety of subjects!

Franciene Sabens-School Counselor Space-Illinois High School Counselor of the Year who has a lot of great resources for professional school counselors! Franciene always has practical tips and information that can be employed in your practice.

The Middle School Counselor-Inspiring blog written by the New York School Counselor of the Year and former high school counselor, Carol Miller.  Although not a high school blog, Carol has a great blog with ideas that can be used with high school students.  In addition to her blog, Carol creates and sells school counseling t-shirts on her site (check them out!).

Susan Spellman Cann-School Counsellor Talk-Retired Canadian school counselor and psychologist who hosts a variety of chats (#ETMOOC &  #SCCrowd) and provides a lot of digital resources for professional school counselors.

The College Solution -Although this blog is not written by a high school counselor or educator, it is definitely worth your time to look at this site by Lynn O’Shaughnessy.  She is a former news reporter who writes about "all things college" from financial aid, party schools, standardized testing, and much more!

The Counseling Geek-Outstanding website created by California high school counselor and technology guru, Jeff Ream. The goal of the website is to help school counselors with their technology needs.  In addition to helping counselors with their technology needs, Jeff has set up the ASCA Scholarship fund. 

The Helpful School Counselor-Not only does Heather have well written posts, but she even offers staff development courses for school counselors.  Her latest course on Relational Aggression gives school counselors helpful information to promote social emotional learning among students.

School Counselor Central - Blog managed by Dean Pacchiana and Dr. Deborah Hardy which posts weekly ideas as lessons and activities.  In addition to the blog, SCC has a Facebook and Pinterest page!!

Although these are my favorites, there are many other great blogs for elementary and middle school counselors.  Check out other blog favorites from some of my counseling colleagues and authors.


Feedspot authors regularly update and feature many popular school counseling blogs on its site. Check out their post on the top 60 school counselor blogs!


Beside featuring only school counseling blogs, Barbara LoFrisco complied a list of her top 50 counseling sites.  There is a lot of diversity on this list!


Check out the Online Counseling Programs top school counseling blog list for 2017.


Professor Erin Mason features popular blogs written by professional school counselors from all levels.


Author Jeff Ream recently authored a post about his eight favorite blogs on his popular blog.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017





About a year ago,  I bought a new car which kind of forced me to purchase satellite radio (Hair Nation rocks!). The other day I got a wild hair (pardon the pun) and decided to explore some other stations.  As I was exploring, I came upon an old radio program that was on when I was a kid called Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown (for you younger school counselors, Ryan Seacrest has become the new Casey Kasem). It was so awesome to go back in time and listen to those forgotten hits that were popular when I was growing up. As I was driving, it occurred to me that it was time to share my countdown of the top ten posts of the year from For High School Counselor's Blog.

So, let's get started...



I have received a lot of response from this blog post...some disbelief and some just basic shock.  As a school counselor, it is important to  understand that drugs are a pervasive part of the culture of youth.  Although we may not be able to prevent all drug use, we certainly can be aware of the most dangerous trends that threaten to destroy the lives of our students. This post will be updated in 2018.






After taking a class in Trauma and the Brain from Georgia State University, I decided to write this post for school counselors.  Understanding the brain's role in trauma is super important and learning trauma informed practices can make a huge difference when working with your students.  

Trauma Informed Practices and Resources for School Counselors


































This post certainly resonated with many school counselors and has been featured on other school counseling blogs (thank you to those who shared!).  Self care is essential in our field and many of us still fail to take care of our mental or physical health.  Maybe you will find a tip or two that will be helpful to you in this post.

End of the Year Tips for the Overworked Counselor



After attending the Georgia School Counselor Conference in 2016, I decided to share the idea of creating a comfort kit for students who experience self-harm.  There are a lot of great ideas of how to put together your own kit in this post.

Comfort Kits for Students Who Self-Harm




Ever since I pinned this information in 2013, I have gotten many shares and likes from school counselors at different levels.  Each year, I like to include a revised list of my favorite websites, blogs, and resources which you can  also find on my blog.

173 High School Counseling Websites and Resources



As a school counselor, it is not always clear what we should do when we experience students who engage in non-suicidal self harm.  I decided to write this post after I attended a training session on self injury among adolescents.  




I discovered the power of coloring among teens as a school counselor several years ago and decided to share some resources that may be helpful to other high school counselors.  This post has been widely shared and liked by other professionals and parents.




We all know the movie called The Bucket List.  However, if you are unaware of this movie, here is the plot in one sentence. This movie chronicles the journey of two elderly gentlemen who decide to do the things they always wanted to do before they, well... "kick the bucket." Since the senior year is often stressful and hectic for our students, I decided to share of list of fun things we could share for them to do before they graduate.  




This is another post that I have received a lot of response from school counselors.  Unfortunately, as a school counselor, you may be asked to fix a student's hygiene issues. If you find yourself in this situation, I hope that some of these suggestions are helpful.




Many school counselors, like myself, love forms. Therefore, I decided to write a post that features over 1,000 forms.  In 2018, I may update this post and make it 2,000!!



Well, that is my top 10 list for 2017.  Next year, I hope to continue to write informative and helpful posts for my counseling colleagues.

  Until then, in the words of Casey Kasem...