Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful for LiveBinders!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My husband says that I am obsessed with finding resources to use with my students (he's right!).  I have a habit of looking for resources while I am riding in the car, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting in the lobby of the doctor's office...well, you get the picture.  When I found the tech tool, LiveBinders, I was thrilled!

It is that time of the year for being thankful and sharing with others. I would like to share all the High School Counseling LiveBinder resources that I have located. I hope you will find these resources helpful for you and your students. If you have not created your own High School Counseling LiveBinders Shelf,  please consider and then feel share it with me!

Cedar Falls High School Counseling Live Binder
ASCA Ready To Use Templates from Karl Liedtka
South Dakota School Counselor Association Weebly of Resources
Missouri School Counseling Association Livebinder
North Carolina School Counselor Resources Livebinder
Resources for School Counselors Livebinder by Andrea Burston
Apex High School Counselors Resources
UCT High School Counselors Livebinder
High School Counseling Resources Livebinder
K-12 Career Resources Livebinder
School Counselor Resources Livebinder
Cedar Rapids, Iowa School Counseling Livebinder
Counseling Web Tools Livebinder
Tacoma Washington School Counselor Resources Livebinder
Resources for School Counselor Livebinder by Erin Heyerdahl
Burlingame School Counselor Resource Livebinder
Career Development and Planning Resource Livebinder by Cindy Miller
Illinois School Counselor Association Collaborative Livebinder
School Counselor Resources Livebinder by Laura Barrow
School Counseling Resource Livebinder by Jessica McCarty
Career Counseling Resource Livebinder by Richard Hall
Susan Langford's School Counseling Livebinder
North Brunswick Township High School Guidance Livebinder
High School Counseling Application Livebinder
High School Counselor Resources Livebinder
PVHS School Counselor Senior Class Livebinder

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hire Me! 74 Free College, Career, & Military Resources For School Counselors

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Free Resources!
ACT v. SAT handout-free handout for students who are confused about which test to take.
American Indian College Scholarship Fund-Minority scholarship.
America Careers-Free career resource.
ASVAB-Military and career resource.
Black Higher Education Resources-Minority scholarships and information.
Big Future College Calendar-Resource from College Board.
Braintrack-College/Career search.
Bureau of Labor Statistics-look for the up and coming jobs of the future.
Cappex-great source of handouts, colleges, scholarships, and high school counselor management site.
Careers-Career Resources for students.
Career Key-Free resource and assessment to help career resources.
Career One Stop -Explore careers, salaries, and skill readiness.
College Career Life Planning Guide for School Counselors
Collegexpress-Private Colleges and Universities.
College Fairs -City list
College View-Equipping counselors to help their students with their college search.
College Wise-Resources for High School Counselors-list of resources for high school counselors to help their students in their college planning.
College Net-College finder for students.
Common Application-Application for high school students to apply to college.
Construct My Future
Counselors College Toolkit-Free resources for high school counselors to assist the college search.
Counselor Resources-Resources from South Carolina.
Debt Free Scholar-Free E-Book.
Early Decision and Early Action-Description for students.
E-Campus Tours-Free campus tours.
FAFSA-official site for the FAFSA.
FastWeb Scholarship Search-Free scholarship search site.
Federal Student Aid at a Glance-Parent/Student Handout
Finaid-college aid, military aid, financial aid calculators, and more.
First in the Family-site for first time college students.
Gates Millennium Scholarship-Minority scholarship program.
Go College-Free college site for students.
Going to College Resources-Find your state and find career resources, financial aid, and college planning guides.
Guide for the College Bound Student-Resource from Newport News, VA
Guide to College and Careers Blog-Barbara Cooke
GPA Conversion Tool-learn how to compute your gpa.
Immigrant Scholarship Guide-Minority scholarships.
Making High School Count-High School presentations and information.
Mapping Your Future/Going to College Freshman Guide
Mapping Your Future.org Going to College/ Sophomore Guide
Mapping Your Future Going to College/Junior Guide
Mapping Your Future Going to College Guide/Senior Guide
March 2 Success-Free test prep.
Military Websites-Website with military information of all branches.
Military Career Guide
Mind Tools
My Future-Comprehensive career toolbox.
My Major-College major information.
My Road from College Board-College and career planner.
National Association for College Admission Counseling-Great free resources for school counselors.
National Office of School Counselor Advocacy-Great resource for school counselors.
Next Step Magazine-Great information for students searching for college information.
Number2-Free test prep for students.
O'Net-career resources and exploration.
Paying for College-Online module for high school students.
Peterson's College Resources
Preparing to Become a College Athlete Presentation-Information for high school athletes.
Princeton Review Test Prep for Students-Free test prep for students.
PSAT Results Explained by College Board-Free presentation explaining the PSAT.
Ready, Set, College-
Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs in the US-Explanation of financial aid and scholarships in the US.
Scholarship Experts-Scholarship Search Site.
School Soup-Scholarship Search Site.
Study Guide Zone-SAT study guide.
Student Aid-A description of different types of financial aid by the US Government.
Student Athlete Handout
Super College-Find scholarships to pay for college.
Technical and Trade Schools by State
Two Year Colleges in the United States
U Can Go To College High School Counselor Resources-Great resource for handouts, power points, interest surveys, financial aid, and college planning lists for all students.
United Negro College Fund
Videos-Helpful career videos like "how to tie a tie", "handshakes", and "how to dress for an interview".
Western Association for College Admissions Counseling High School Counselor Toolkit
XAP-Counselor student tracker.
Zinch-College scholarships and resources for students.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No Name Calling Week - January 21-24, 2014

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In 2004, GLSEN created No Name Calling Week to support educators' efforts in combating bullying, name calling, and bias in schools. NNCW was based on the characters in the popular book called The Misfits. The book focuses on a group of characters who decide to change their school by running for student council on a "no name-calling platform". If your school decides to the organize a NNCW campaign, you can register your school on the GLSEN-No Name Calling Week  website.

Because there is a strong correlation between bullying behavior, poor academic performance, and high absenteeism, schools need effective methods of increasing empathy and ally behavior between students (GLSEN). Teaching empathy and upstanding behaviors has been proven to save time on disciplinary issues like fighting, classroom disruptions, guidance interventions, and off task behavior which often disrupt classroom instructional time. Since the majority of bullying incidents often occur in the hallways, the cafeteria, on the bus ramp, or in the locker room, most go unreported. Since school staff cannot always stop every incident of bullying, implementing a No Name Calling Week campaign can change the climate of the school, improve student attitudes, and increase instructional time in class!

Before embarking in the NNCW campaign, observe students' language and attitudes regarding differences and how these behaviors are addressed by school staff. Next, gather additional student data by distributing the NNCW Student Bullying Survey to students.  One great way to distribute the survey is through math class as a data lesson! Once you examine the attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of your school, set your goals and objectives for NNCW.

Some goals GLSEN has identified include:

  1. Incidents of name-calling will decrease by ______%.
  2. Students will engage in up-stander behavior by ______% of all name-calling incidents.
  3. All staff and students will use a standard vocabulary and apply a shared sense of expectations in this school.

Objectives identified by GLSEN include:

  1. Students will identify ways that words can be used to hurt or help others.
  2. Students will identify the difference between hurtful and helpful words.
  3. Students will apply "safe" strategies in incidents of name-calling and bullying.
NNCW gives some very simple activities your school can conduct to get out the No Name-Calling message to students and staff.  

  • Have students create and display expressive artwork.
  • Have teachers teach lessons based around no name-calling.
  • Ask teachers to implement a no name-calling policy in the classroom.                                                                       Classroom Activity on Creating a Respectful Classroom           
  • Ask your librarian to display books that deal with bullying and name-calling.
  • Ask coaches and PE teachers to teach sportsmanship like behavior on teams and in the physical education class.
  • Have student leaders order and wear No Name-Calling promotional items from the NNCW.
  • Share information with parents of what to do if their student is being bullied. 
  • Teach staff members how to intervene in bullying situations by using On-the-spot Bullying Intervention. See this excellent video from Conflict Resolution Education in Teacher Education.

  • Teach students how to be safe in bullying situations

Check out these additional resources!

NNCW Activities
NNCW Planning Guide
Anti - Defamation League Video

Learning About Labels HS Lesson Plan

We're All Different, But Alike HS Lesson Plan
Shirts of Empowerment
Be an Upstander-The Bully Project
The Bully Project-Creating a Caring School Community Handbook
Stomp Out Bullying-How to Be an Upstander
Anti-Bully Peer Facilitator Guide
Upstander Strategies
Anti-Bullying Websites
Resolution of Respect Poster

Feel free to share any ideas you may be implementing in your school!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Youth Mental Health First Aid & The Professional School Counselor

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Have you ever been intimidated when working with a student diagnosed with a mental health disorder?  I am not going to lie...I HAVE!  My biggest fear, when working with these students, is that they may be unpredictable and dangerous.  Take for instance, the infamous stories of celebrities like Amanda Bynes and Brittney Spears. Here are two beautiful, popular, and rich young women who became the laughing stock of Hollywood for their explosive behavior.  Bynes went on a drug binge, wore outlandish outfits, called out other celebrities on tweeter, and set a fire in her parent's driveway before she was sent for an evaluation.  Spears went on a partying binge sans underwear with her pals, shaved her head, and took an umbrella to an automobile before her family sent her in for a mental health facility.

Top 5 Celebrities With Mental Health Disorders

Unfortunately, because of the bad behavior of many celebrities with mental health disorders, many students face a lot of discrimination, bullying, and stigma. To conquer my fears and help me gain a better understanding of working with students who have a mental health disorder, I decided to take the Youth Mental Health First Aid course.  

Youth Mental Health Statistics

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) reports that four million youth in the United States suffer from a serious mental health disorder that impacts their ability to function in school; however, sadly only 20% of these youths are ever identified and receive mental services. Untreated, mental health disorders in youths can result in:

Suicide-suicide is the third leading cause of death in youths.
School failure-a large number of students with undiagnosed mental health disorders drop out of school.
Criminal involvement-juvenile facilities and prisons have become the new mental health facilities.
Over utilization of healthcare services- like emergency rooms.

NAMI found that early identification and intervention can minimize the long-term disability of mental health disorders.  


What is Mental Health First Aid?

Just as CPR training helps laypersons with no clinical training save lives, Mental Health First Aid helps laypersons assist someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis (i.e. suicide). Mental Health First Aid was created by Professor Anthony Jorm and Nurse Betty Kitchener in Australia. To date, 19 countries teach Mental Health First Aid including the United States.  The program includes an eight hour interactive session that introduces participants to risk factors, warning signs of mental health problems, understanding of their impact, and overview of mental health treatments.

During the training, the risk factors and warning signs of several mental health disorders are presented. These disorders include: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis, ADHD, eating disorders, substance abuse, and self injury. One of the goals of the Mental Health First Aid training is to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders in communities and schools within the United States. One of the practical takeaways of the course is that participants receive a five step action plan that includes: 

  • Skills
  • Resources and knowledge a professional would need to access the situation
  • Interventions
  • How to help individual connect with a mental health clinician in the area

Youth Mental Health First Aid

This new course is designed to work with adolescents between the ages of 12-18 and introduces the participants to the unique risks and warning signs of those who work with adolescents. In addition, the course helps build understanding of the importance of early intervention and teaches participants how to work with youth experiencing a mental health crisis. Not only is this course appropriate for those who work with youth, but the course is also appropriate for older adolescents (ages 16 or older) as to encourage peer to peer interaction. 

What Do You Do When a Student is Going Through a Mental Health Crisis?

One strategy you learn in the course is a Mental Health First Aid strategy called ALGEE. In this action plan, the adult or peer:
  • Accesses for risk or harm
  • Listens non-judgmentally
  • Gives reassurance and information
  • Encourages appropriate professional help
  • Encourages self-help (exercise, deep breathing, etc).

Example of an activity from the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

One of the highlights of my training was the exercise of speaking to a student who has disillusions.  First of all, one should never try to talk the student out of his disillusions, but try to bring him or her back to reality by moving on to subjects that brings the student to the here and now.  Second, students can suffer from different types of disillusions (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.). For students who suffer from auditory disillusions, they may have a difficult time concentrating on a conversation because of voices they hear constantly.  To understand this concept, try this exercise. 

In a group of three, choose of one these roles: the delusional student, the school counselor, or the "voice." In order to be the "voice", take a piece of paper, roll it up, and whisper in the student's ear.  Truly, this is a powerful exercise as the student will have a hard time concentrating and answering the school counselor. Try it for yourself!

Practical Uses for School Counselors from YMHFA:

  • School Counselors can apply to take the five day course to teach the eight hour Mental Health First Aid course to school staff and community members who work with youth.

  • School Counselors who coordinate peer helping programs can train peer helpers in Mental Health First Aid.

  • School Counselors can apply their knowledge of Mental Health First Aid to create school action plans for students who have a mental health disorder.

  • School Counselors can educate parents and staff regarding misconceptions about adolescents with mental health disorders.
  • Promote Mental Health Awareness month and activities at your school.

Feb. 24-March 1, 2014

  • School Counselors can become more secure and confident in working with students who have a mental health disorder.

If you would like to take the eight hour course and/or become a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, visit the MHFA website.

Here are some great resources regarding mental health:
Active Minds
The Jed Foundation
Anxiety Disorders of America
Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance
Child Mind Institute

Interesting Articles:
Comfort Food: No One Brings Dinner When Your Daughter is an Addict
Kylie Jenner Comes Under Fire for Using the Word Bipolar

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Professional School Counselor To The Rescue!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Mission

As a high school counselor, there are often times when I work with teens who are out of control or having a meltdown. Incidents like fighting, receiving bad news, ending a relationship, receiving too much stimulation, or arguing with a staff member can cause students to lose their ability to think rationally and resort to using their reptilian brain. In addition, their nervous systems respond to trauma or crisis situations by going into hyper-alert. These responses may have worked well in earlier environments to minimize emotional damage, but this behavior does not work in the present school environment.  When a meltdown (loss of the capacity to function normally or act in a rational manner) occurs, students often do not have the ability to talk about their feelings or describe the incident that set them into orbit.  Add mental illness, extreme trauma, autism, or substance abuse to the equation and the situation escalates quickly. In fact, even though you may be there to help the student, he or she may be disconnected mentally and emotionally to this fact.

My Story

It is quiet in the office and bell is scheduled to ring within the hour for dismissal. I am typing an email and a scream disrupts the quiet office. Quickly, I jump up from my desk and run to our lobby area where I see a teacher following one of our special needs freshmen. Truly, she looks like a caged animal pacing back and forth with spectators watching her every move.  Suddenly, the assistant principal bursts into the room and begins to reprimand her loudly while the teacher tries to calm her. With all this attention, she runs behind the couch, backs up against the bookcase, and wildly tries to find a place to escape. Now, everyone moves toward her and she looks even more threatened. As she is screaming, I run between the student and the staff members.  "Hey, let's move her into another room away from everyone so she can calm down." The student's eyes are wide and glassy as I walk her into a quiet room away from the others.  As the student sits in a chair, I hear her panting wildly for air. "Look at me sweetie...no one is going to bother you right now."  "Now, watch me."

At this point, I begin to show her how to take in deep breaths and blow them out of her mouth.  She seemed confused by my request so I asked her to pretend to blow out a candle.  Finally, she gets it!  "You are doing a great job!" "Just keep looking at me and concentrate on the candle."  For five minutes, the student was able to calm herself and regulate her emotions without an incident. When she calmed down, the student was finally able to articulate what happened to make her so upset.

Deep Breathing Exercises for Teens

Professional School Counselors Must Be Ready!

Counselors Must Change Roles Quickly!

As a school counselor, you may, at any time, be called upon to "calm" a student who may be out of control in a classroom or sobbing in a restroom.  Unfortunately, when I started as a school counselor, I did not have a tool box of techniques to use with emotionally unstable students.  Over time, I have found there are some techniques that I can use to help regulate and calm students who are using aggression to feel in control in their world.  My goal is to teach them how to regulate their own emotions, but when I do not know the student or have very little contact with him or her, I must rely on these tools.

De-escalation Super Tools for School Counselors:

Counselor Super Powers!

1.  Remove the student from an audience.  Removing the student from others, prevents the desire for the student to "save face"and continue to act-out.

2.  Model Calm Behavior-if you become upset, the student's extreme behaviors will only escalate.

3. Use eye contact and communicate with the student in a firm, but gentle voice.

4. Get the student to a safe space where he or she can have space to move about.

5. Talk to the student through deep breathing exercises (this really works!).  Ask the student to inhale through the nose for a count of four and exhale through the mouth for a count of eight.

6.  Allow the student to move.  Sometimes I take the student for a walk outside or allow the student to move around a room.

7.  Give the student a lolly pop to suck.  The sucking response is a natural way to promote calmness.

8. Prepare a calming place for students-this can include having lamps for dim lighting rather than harsh lights, big pillows, a rocking chair, blankets, stuffed animals, squishy balls, sand art, puzzles, play dough, and calming sounds (sounds for the ocean, forest sounds, etc).

9. Work on building a relationship with the student-one of the most powerful tools I have found as an educator is building meaningful relationships with students. Spending time getting to know the student and learning his or her patterns of behavior or emotional triggers can help you educate others about intervening early before the student goes into crisis.

Emotional Triggers

10. Use verbal de-escalation- give the person your undivided attention, be non-judgmental, focus on the student's feelings (not just the facts), allow silence, and clarify feelings.

11. Help the student develop needed life skills to face adverse situations and to bounce back stronger.  This fulfills the old Chinese proverb that you have heard since you were a small child and I believe to be powerful when working with students. Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." 

When students lack adequate life skills, they often resort to the negative coping skills that have worked for them in the past.  Nan Henderson is a social worker who has worked with children, adolescents, and adults in the area of resiliency over the last twenty years. On her website, Ms. Anderson spoke about a time a teen ended up in an adolescent treatment center after being caught at school for using drugs. The teen shared that she felt lost in school, but found a group, behind the gym smoking weed, who accepted her. The student had instant acceptance and her problems magically went away for a little while. In the absence of relationships and problem solving skills, students often turn to the only options they know. Anderson believes that all humans need skills on how to successfully cope with challenges in each stage of their lives.

Check out Nan Anderson's Resiliency Wheel for working with students in crisis situations.

12. Set limits and boundaries with students in crisis to protect the students, yourself, and others.
Protect yourself and others

Self Regulation Tips
Relaxation Tips for Students

Following a student's emotional outburst, Dr.  Mitch Abblett suggests following up with the staff who work with the student after the episode.
Meet with your colleagues

1. As soon as possible, meet with the staff for about 15 minutes to debrief their reactions and conduct a chain analysis or timeline of the episode.  Dr. Abblett says that the debriefing is not a time to point fingers, but serves as a time to uncover the missed aspects around the crisis.

2. Include the student and the parents in the loop.  Following the event, school staff should not merely report facts, but connect the student with his or her family. Helping the family to feel like part of the solution is important.

3. Help the student to repair relationships with staff.  It is important to let the student know that he or she is important and so his or her relationships.

4. Talk about and acknowledge compassion fatigue when working with students who are consistently in trauma. It is important to identify burnout behaviors among staff members and know how to address these behaviors. Compassion fatigue is highly associated with helping professionals and can cause them to make poor decisions when working with students.

The Helping Professionals' Kryptonite (Compassion Fatigue)

Compassion Fatigue
Some signs of compassion fatigue include:

Mental or physical fatigue
Free floating anger
Chronic tardiness

Here is an assessment staff members can take to assess the possibility of compassion fatigue.
Compassion Fatigue Self Assessment

If staff members recognize they may have CF, here are some self care strategies they can employ:

  • Eat well and exercise
  • Get adequate rest
  • Increase social or professional support
  • Focus on current tasks
  • Practice emotional distancing
  • Use cognitive self talk
From Dr. Rosine Doughterty, Associate Professor, Argosy University

I encourage you as a professional school counselor, to seek out additional training in this area because, in reality, we are not superheroes.  I would love to hear your experiences in working with emotional students!!

Compassion Fatigue Video Resources

Resources for Working with Students

Helping Developmentally Traumatized Children by Mitch Abblett
Kim's Counselor Corner-Worksheets
Psychological First Aid Worksheets
Things I Need You To Know--A Poem

Interested in Training

Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Training
Psychological First Aid
Psychological First Aid for Schools
Traumatology Institute Trainings
The Upside Down Organization

Great Blogs

Traumatology Institute Blog
Resiliency Blog