Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ASCA Conference Live Streaming: Don't Miss the Conference Even if You Can't Be There!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This is my first ASCA conference and I am really excited to meet all the counselors who have inspired me over the last two years.  Unfortunately, many counselors cannot attend the ASCA conference for various reasons (i.e. economic, transportation, life issues, etc.) so ASCA has made it possible for non attendees to live stream certain conference sessions. In fact, ASCA will allow non attendees to access the recordings even when the conference is over!!  

Here are the two options:

$199-View all three and a half days of conference sessions.

$99-View one day of conference sessions.

Conference Schedule for Live Streaming

Sunday, June 29
9 a.m.–4 p.m.
RAMP CAMP Pre-conference Workshop
All Practice Levels
Intermediate, Advanced
0.6 CEUs/6 Contact Hours
Make the ASCA Annual Conference your summer camp by attending RAMP CAMP, where you’ll learn the ins and outs of applying for the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) award. Your camp counselors will help you scout out tips and suggestions about how to approach the process and how to submit your RAMP application through the online submission portal. Take your school counseling program to the next level by attending RAMP CAMP.
Tammi Mackeben, Coordinator of Guidance and Counseling, Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas; Karen Griffith, Ph.D., School Counselor (retired), Lilburn, Ga.

5-6:30 p.m.
Opening Keynote
Pat WilliamsBuilding Champions of Character

0.15 CEUs/1.5 Contact Hours
In this perceptive and practical speech, Pat Williams shares the key steps needed to go from dreaming to achieving – and how you can help your students turn into the champions they're meant to be. He'll share his blueprint for working and living a life full of passion, energy, imagination and creativity and give you tips on how to infuse students with the desire to be their best, while staying true to their values and integrity. (Note: The keynote is only available live; not as part of the archived webstream after the conference.)

Monday, June 30

9–10:15 a.m.
Brand and Market Your School Counseling Program
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.125 CEUs/1.25 Contact Hours
You have a solid program, but is it lacking a hook? Regardless of how great your program is, you still need to sell it to stakeholders. By thoroughly analyzing trends in the school, it is possible to develop a succinct and memorable phrase, word, graphic or gimmick addressing a clear need of your students or community that can easily be remembered and associated with your school counseling services. Learn to develop branding and marketing strategies for your program. Discover how to get started and what free and efficient tools can help. Address options for communicating your brand to stakeholders.
Jeremy Goldman, School Counseling Department Chair, Pikesville High School, Baltimore, Md.; Jeffrey Ream, School Counselor, North Tahoe High School, North Tahoe, Calif.

11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Prevent Bullying by Saying Hi
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.125 CEUs/1.25 Contact Hours
The BIONIC Prevent Bullying by Just Saying Hi program empowers bystanders to create a more caring climate in their school. Enhance your current bully prevention efforts by equipping your entire campus with the tools and desire to look out for each other and create a better school. Learn about the BIONIC Team program for new students, sick and hospitalized students, students and staff who lose loved ones and other schools/communities experiencing tragedy. Examine the steps to add the Prevent Bullying by Just Saying Hi program to your current bully prevention program, and get resources to implement the program at your school.
Sandy Austin, School Counselor, Green Mountain High School, Lakewood, Colo.

1:30–4:30 p.m.
Implications of Recent Court Rulings
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.3 CEUs/3 Contact Hours
Legal entanglements are considerably lessened when school counselors practice within the standard of care as established by courts. Discuss recent court rulings involving bullying, educational records, case notes, child abuse, social media, sexually active students, suicide and academic advising. Gain confidence in your ability to avoid legal entanglements. Increase your knowledge of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors, federal and state laws and court rulings. Learn about a decision-making model to help you adhere to legal practice.
Carolyn Stone, Ed.D., Professor, University of North Florida

Tuesday, July 1

10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m. 

10:45 a.m.–12 p.m.
The School Counselor as a Leader for Improving School Climate
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.125 CEUs/1.25 Contact Hours
When it comes to fostering a positive school climate, no one person can do it alone. Learn steps to foster teamwork, collaboration and effective communication among school staff. Address the relationship between staff culture and student achievement/engagement. Walk away with resources and manipulatives you can adapt for your school.
Jennifer Curry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University; Christopher Belser, School Counselor, Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter School, Baton Rouge, La.; Emeric Imre Csazar, Ph.D., Assessment Specialist and Instructor, Louisiana State University

1:30–4:30 p.m.
Data-Driven Decision Making and Evidence-Based Programming
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.3 CEUs/3 Contact Hours
Are you thinking about applying for Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) status? Learn practical strategies for achieving RAMP through data-driven decision making, creating program goals, identifying and implementing evidence-based interventions and creating an infrastructure for school counseling program evaluation. Examine the RAMP rubric and evaluation process. Practice applying the data-driven decision-making process, choosing and organizing evidence-based interventions and evaluating your program. Discover how to develop a school counseling program beliefs statement, mission statement and vision statement. Learn to connect program beliefs, mission and vision with the school counseling program goals, evidence-based interventions and program evaluation.
Brett Zyromski, Ph.D., School Counseling Program Director, Northern Kentucky University
Wednesday, July 2

9–10:15 a.m.
When Social Networking Comes to School
All Practice Levels
All Experience Levels
0.125 CEUs/1.25 Contact Hours
#SocialMedia. Our students are part of the digital generation. It is our responsibility to not only understand online safety but also understand how social media affects our schools. Address social media concerns for students and the profession. Gain skills and tools to use when addressing social media influences with students. Learn about your personal digital thumbprint and be able to identify at least one way to improve it. Walk away with resources for online safety and at least one intervention to implement at your school.
Barb Wilson, Ph.D., School Counselor, Hall County School System, Gainesville, Ga.

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Closing Keynote
Rosalind Wiseman, Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends & the New Rules of Boy World
0.15 CEUs/1.5 Contact Hours
Rosalind Wiseman gives insights into what matters most to boys – their friendships, girls and their relationships with adults. Discover what's really going on between boys and girls and why they can be so reluctant to ask adults for help. Learn how boys' and girls' social group dynamics influence their interactions and get step-by-step advice on how to teach young people to treat each other with dignity. Wiseman provides a roadmap for educators, parents and communities to reach boys and help them grow into the best sons, brothers, friends, students, athletes and boyfriends they can be. (Note: The keynote is only available live; not as part of the archived webstream after the conference.)

Future ASCA Conference dates and cities:
June 28–July 1, 2015
Phoenix, Ariz.
July 9–12, 2016
New Orleans, La.
July 8–11, 2017
Denver, Colo.
July 14–17, 2018
Los Angeles, Calif.
June 29–July 2, 2019
Boston, Mass.
June 27–30, 2020
Seattle, Wash.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Secrets of the Dark Web: Educating Teens

Friday, June 20, 2014

 In the 1980's,  the rise of instantaneous communication was born via the internet.  Personally, I love the internet!  l love to see pictures of my friends on face book, browse pinterest, research information, and even buy music for my I-Pod.  The internet has revolutionized our culture and economic commerce in the last 25 years.  Today, I can get on the internet and find a new pair of shoes for the upcoming ASCA Conference.  When I type in the term shoes, in whichever browser I decide to use, countless sites of shoes appear.  What is amazing is that Google only searches a small percentage of what is actually on the web. In essence, it is like casting your net in the ocean and only catching the marine life near the surface.  This is called the "internet within the internet".

The Internet Within the Internet

Beyond our friends Google, Yahoo, Webcraweler, and Bing,  is a host of browsers that can take you into the next layer of the internet known as the "Deep Web."  In the Deep Web, loads of accessible information exists that traditional websites cannot bring to the surface, but can be accessed by anyone.  For instance, if I wanted to get to the Deep Web, I could download a Deep Web  browser and send one query instead of searching multiple search engines. This is great for researchers who need to find articles or information and cannot find them on the surface web broswers like Goolge. There are a lot of positives to using the deep web:

1.  It's Free!
2.  Easy to access
3.  Huge databases can be searched with just one query.
4.  Greater results of searches can be accessed.

 Now, before you get all excited about all the uncapped information out there, you must realize for every well meaning idea there is often a draw back.  If you decide to go to the deep web and cast your net, you may see things that are disturbing.  A part of the deep web is the dark underside of the web called, um, well the dark web.

The Dark Web

The Dark Web or Dot Onion is a place on the internet that may no longer be available (i.e. the address has become old) or "gone dark"(a place where illegal activity is happening).  If a student decided to download one of the Deep Web browsers (i.e. Tor), he or she could become totally anonymous on the internet.  Why?  The reason is that Tor connects with millions of computers confusing his or her location.  Let's say someone wanted to use Tor to go to a website that sells drugs; he or she can do it without any detection.  Also, if a adult wanted to buy a child as a sex slave he could access websites through Tor.  The Dark Web gives adults and teens access to buy guns, drugs, prostitutes, pornography, contract killers, stolen credit card numbers, stolen pay pal accounts, and stolen gold through a currency called bitcoins (1 bitcoin is $9 US dollars). Bitcoin is an anonymous account that teens use to purchase video games and now drugs on the Dark Web. Bitcoin accounts are actually funded by parents thinking that it is used for legal means.

The Dark Web

In the article, Accessing the Deep Web, the author gives web surfers the keys of how to find disturbing information and images, illegal activity, and even online storage for their illegal images.  One site called Gram, prides itself on being the "dark" Google allowing people to sell illegal ads, rate illegal websites, and creating other illegal Google-like applications.  Just imagine websites where hit men advertise for their services and child porn ads are as common as a Walmart ad!

What Does This Mean for Students?

As tech savvy as our students are today,  it will not be hard for them to find this underworld.  How can they find this secret portal?  Just download the Tor browser, go to popular sites (i.e. Gram), buy your merchandise in bitcoins, and have the merchandise sent to your PO box or home address.   Today, the ease of getting access to drugs, guns, and other illegal items is just one click away.  This is really a terrifying fact for me as a parent and school counselor!!  Until recently, the dark web was well hidden.  However our guileless youth are advertising their illegal deals on social media which has brought attention to this hidden world.

What Can School Counselors Do?

At this point, there is not a Dark Web tool kit for school counselors; however, we can educate our staff, parents, and students about this underground world.

Some tips:

1.  Bring in experts to talk about the dark web for your staff and parents.
2.  Send home information about how parents can protect their children online.
3.  Write to your representative about protections for children against dark web predators.
4.  Use peers to  educate peers regarding the dangers of the dark web and give presentations to younger students.
5. Organize "A Beware of the Dark" campaign for your school.  This campaign can emphasize the dangers of giving out personal information on the web; raise awareness about the anonymity of the Dark Web; give tips on how to protect oneself from cyber-stalkers, identity theft, and child traffickers; and raise awareness of police surveillance of the Dark Web and the possibility of arrest when visiting Dark Web websites (even if it is by accident).

I hope this post was informational and can be useful in your practice.  Look for my upcoming "Beware of the Dark" kit on Teachers Pay Teachers.   I do not know about you, but my eyes have been opened to a world I never knew existed!

Additional Resources:

Deep Web v. Dark Web: Defending Children
Going Dark, the Internet Behind the Internet
Diving Into the Deep Web: What Is it and Who Can Access It?
Netsmartz Resources
Educator's Online Guide to Internet Safety
Safe Surfing Kids Lesson Plans
Halt Online Abuse

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The School Counselor's Role in Educating Students About Recreational Drug Use

Sunday, June 15, 2014

History of Recreational Drug Use

In 1987, the Swiss government made a bold and unheard of decision to allow illegal drug use in one of its most popular parks called the Platzspitz.  The Platzspitz was a beautiful park that has existed in Zurich since the Middle Ages, however, it had been overrun by heroin addicts in the late 1980s. To curtail the drug problem from spreading outside of the park, the government decided to outlaw its police force from entering the park to arrest drug users and dealers. On any given day, there were over 20,000 drug users in the park and the park's beauty was littered with vomit, human feces, bloody cotton balls, used needles, and other types of filth.  From 1987-1992, the Platzspitz became known to the world as Needle Park. The majority of the inhabitants of the park were not residents of Switzerland, but traveled to Zurich to legally feed their addiction. Finally fed up with increased crime, drug related deaths, prostitution, and the drug tourism, the city government closed the park to drug users.  Today, the Platzspitz is back to its natural state of beauty and a friendly place for families to visit.

Needle Park, Zurich Switzerland

Coffee Shop in Amsterdam

Recreational Drug Use in Europe

Another country that has not legalized drug, but is tolerant of the use of "soft drugs" is Holland. Since 1976, causal marijuana use has held both a illegal and legal status in Dutch society (the supply side is legal while the production side is illegal). In addition, Holland has a reputation of being the key entry point of drugs for the continent of Europe.  Currently, Dutch coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis (acquired by shadowy means) that must meet certain government regulations.  Here are the requirements that coffee shops must meet in order to sell their cannabis:
1. Coffee shops are not allowed to sell more than 5 grams/day to any individual.
2. Coffee shops are limited to what level of potency they can sell.
3. Coffee shops cannot sell to minors under the age of 18.
4. Coffee shops must check the IDs of all customers to make sure they meet residency requirements (Dutch citizen).
5. Coffee shops may not sell alcoholic beverages to reduce criminal behavior.

The Dutch society has been split over the idea of marijuana legalization due to the negative impact of drug tourism.  Another key to keeping the novelty of pot use down in Holland is the prohibition of advertising and glamorizing its use to adolscents.

Dutch Drug Policy
CBS News-Inside Holland's Half Baked Pot Policy

Recreational Drug Use in the United States

Many countries are changing their policies about marijuana use; particularly the US.  Recently, the states of Washington and Colorado have made the recreational use of marijuana legal.  Among all the hype about the economic stimulus and benefits of decriminalization, there has been little conversation around the impact on
the students in these states. Both the mayor of Denver and the governor of Colorado know there will be problems in their state.  In an interview in The Liberty Voice, Governor Hickenlooper urged states considering legalization not to overlook the unintended consequences of legalizing something that is really not good for the human body.

Unintended Consequences of Legalization:

1.  Increased marijuana use by young people.
The use of marijuana by teens has been on the rise since the mid-2000s. The rise in use is reflective of  the changing perceptions and values in our culture.  Many young people today see marijuana as a "safe drug" due to the legalization of marijuana and the conversations around the benefits of marijuana for medical use.

High School Marijuana Trends

The following info graphics show the increased use of marijuana by teens since legalization in Colorado.

Early Initiation of Substance Use) “When initiation of substance use occurs in preadolescence or early in adolescence, the risk of addiction is magnified.8 CASA’s analysis of national data finds that individuals‡ who first used any addictive substance before age 15 are six and a half times as likely to have a substance use disorder as those who did not use any addictive substance until age 21 or older (28.1 percent vs. 4.3 percent).”
"Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, June 2011), p. 38
- See more at:

Marijuana Use in Denver Compared to the United States

2. Today's Marijuana Is More Potent
 Shelia Polk points out the increased addictive nature of today's marijuana.  Many conversations have been around the potency of marijuana based on 1970s potency levels; however, today's THC levels have increased from 3% to 15%. This increase in potency has a negative impact on the developing brain in terms memory, judgment, and clarity of thought. High potency marijuana (i.e. Connie Chung) has been found to contribute to ADD, aggression, depression, and anxiety in children.

Science Daily
 Marijuana's Addictive Potential

3. Early use of marijuana in adolescence can lead to higher addiction levels and lower IQ levels
 Marijuana use has been found to decrease IQ rates by eight points.  Also, if marijuana use begins at an earlier age, there is a greater risk that the child will become addicted faster.

Adolescent Pot Use Leaves Lasting Mental Deficits; Developing Brain Susceptible to Lasting Damage from Exposure to Marijuana

4. Marijuana use can lead to increased traffic accidents and death in adolescence
 A review of nine studies that looked at the relationship between marijuana use and driving impairment found that within three hours after consuming marijuana an auto crash that results in serious injury or death doubles.  In addition, researchers found that marijuana can be detected in the blood during a month of abstinence.  See the Dutch educational video below on how marijuana impacts the body.

Cannabis Use Doubles Chances of Vehicle Crash, Review Finds Researchers 
New Study Shows Cannabis Effects On Driving Skills
Cannabis Impact on the Body

How Can Educators Protect Children if  Recreational Marijuana is Legalized in Your State?
(Marijuana Potency) "Although marijuana grown in the United States was once considered inferior because of a low concentration of THC, advancements in plant selection and cultivation have resulted in higher THC-containing domestic marijuana. In 1974, the average THC content of illicit marijuana was less than one percent. Today most commercial grade marijuana from Mexico/Columbia and domestic outdoor cultivated marijuana has an average THC content of about 4 to 6 percent. Between 1998 and 2002, NIDA-sponsored Marijuana Potency Monitoring System (MPMP) analyzed 4,603 domestic samples. Of those samples, 379 tested over 15 percent THC, 69 samples tested between 20 and 25 percent THC and four samples tested over 25 percent THC."
Lyman, Michael "Practical Drug Enforcement, Third Edition" CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL: 2007), p. 74.
- See more at:
(Marijuana Potency) "Although marijuana grown in the United States was once considered inferior because of a low concentration of THC, advancements in plant selection and cultivation have resulted in higher THC-containing domestic marijuana. In 1974, the average THC content of illicit marijuana was less than one percent. Today most commercial grade marijuana from Mexico/Columbia and domestic outdoor cultivated marijuana has an average THC content of about 4 to 6 percent. Between 1998 and 2002, NIDA-sponsored Marijuana Potency Monitoring System (MPMP) analyzed 4,603 domestic samples. Of those samples, 379 tested over 15 percent THC, 69 samples tested between 20 and 25 percent THC and four samples tested over 25 percent THC."
Lyman, Michael "Practical Drug Enforcement, Third Edition" CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL: 2007), p. 74.
- See more at:
  • Educators should support the No Product Placements sponsorships, point-of-purchase marketing, or depictions in entertainment venues. The American Academy of Pediatrics is adamant that the exposure of adolescents and children to drinking and smoking in television programs and movies should be greatly reduced.  Researchers found that  exposure is a key factor in persuading teenagers to start smoking, start drinking, and to binge drink.  Look at the statistics:
          Exposure in media may account for up to half of young teenagers initiating tobacco use.

          In 2009 more than half of PG-13 rated films contained tobacco use.

         Adolescents can see alcohol use every 14 minutes on MTV.

         Thirty-eight of the 40 highest grossing movies contain alcohol use.

          Drinking is frequently depicted as normal behavior for teenagers. 
  • Like tobacco and alcohol, organizations like SADD, Teens in the Driver's Seat, NOYS, and MADD should help support bills regarding No Drugged Driving-a ban on driving with marijuana in the systems of drivers or passengers. 
  • School districts should ban No Drugged Employees or Students (people coming to work or school with marijuana in their systems). Each state is concerned about the effectiveness of its schools in educating students. By allowing high students and teachers to come to school will greatly diminish the education of our students by causing increased absenteeism, increased safety concerns, and lowered productivity. In a meta analysis of 48 studies, cannabis use was found to be associated with lower grades, higher absenteeism, memory loss, and school drop out. In addition, heavy cannabis users reported college completion, lower salaries, decreased satisfaction in their personal and social lives, and more work related accidents.
          How Does Marijuana Use Affect School-Work-Social Life

  • States should continue to apply Smoke-Free Laws at government properties, like schools. Marijuana use should be banned where tobacco smoking is banned. 
See the complete list of the 12 provisions and their rationales 12 Provisions to Protect Children if Marijuana is Legalized 

As a school counselor, we have a tremendous role to play in educating students, parents, and staff members about the reality of recreational marijuana use by our students and the long range consequences. Staying out of the political and economic debates, we can impact the attitudes and perceptions of the next generation of students by providing research based drug education.  I often think of the success of tobacco education and how those educational campaigns have made a huge impact on the perceptions and behaviors of teens when choosing to smoke or to not smoke.  Although I cannot predict that recreational marijuana will become legal in your state, I believe the issue will be up for vote in more states in 2016. As school counselors, we must be educated about cannabis use and have an elevator speech regarding our stance no matter what the trend of public opinion. 

Here is an example of an elevator speech about substance use:

To help you in educating students, consider instituting these organizations or groups in your school.

Students Against Destructive Decisions  

 Teens in the Driver's Seat

Peer Education and Peer Helping

Narconon Peer Leadership Training and Free Resources

 Other Resources for School Counselors on Recreational Drug Use:

The School Counselor's Role With Students At-Risk for Substance Abuse
Drug and Alcohol Resources from San Diego Unified Schools
Preventing Substance Abuse: A Guide for School Counselors
NIDA Teen Drug Facts
Marijuana Legalization
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Monitoring the Future
CDC-Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs Blog

Thursday, June 12, 2014

American Red Cross Trauma Training for School Counselors

Thursday, June 12, 2014

As a school counselor do you feel comfortable assisting students and their families in the area of trauma or in a school/community disaster? To be honest, I certainly feel vulnerable in this area and I am always looking for trauma training.  One possible training for school counselors in this area is offered by the American Red Cross.  According to the American Counseling Association, this training will be offered at their next conference in Orlando (March, 2015). In addition to this training, ACA offers a list of trauma fact sheets for counselors created by the ACA Traumatology Interest Network.

See the information regarding this training: 
Red Cross Trauma/Disaster Training for School Counselors

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cult of Personality: Phenomenon of Slender Man

Friday, June 6, 2014

Note: This post was inspired by a tweet from Dr. Michelle Borba.

One day I was walking through our library when a staff member stopped me. She said she was so glad to see me because she was really concerned about a student.  As she was talking about the student, I remembered my colleague had referred the student for mental health services the year before.  Why the concern?  Well, the student was trying to check out books about serial killers (like the child clown entertainer John Wayne Gacy) and the student was boldly announcing the fascination on how they became serial killers.  The staff member was concerned because the student had been banned from checking out books about killers by the parent. I thanked the staff member for the update and reported this information to my colleague. My colleague shared that the parent knew about the student's fascination and unsuccessfully tried to prevent the access of information about them at school, the public library, and book stores. Although the parent was relentless, the student was able to access information, drawings, pictures, and resources via the internet.  There is a lot of concern for this student and everyone is fearful for this students' future. 

John Wayne Gacy, Famous Killer
There has always been a attraction for the macabre with adolescents.  As kids, we were strangely drawn into horror stories, but terrified at the same time.  In my own life, I have been drawn into playing games to conjure "ghosts".  For instance, one childhood game I played with my friend was Bloody Mary.  You may remember the turn off the light in the bathroom, light a candle, say her name three times as you spin around and BOOM she appears in the mirror.  This urban legend developed from stories integrating evil women over time (Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth Bathory aka "Lady Dracula", and the witch, Mary Worth to name a few).  My friends and I swore we would always see her and then we would run out of the bathroom screaming with our hearts pounding!

Another fascination for teens is scary in particular that terrified me was "The Exorcist".  I hated it, but I was often allured to the story by my fascination for the unknown. I found myself going to the library and reading the reading the novel, looking up information about movie facts, etc.  At a sleep over, I finally watched it for the first time and the nightmares started.  When I tried to sleep, the face of the young girl would be looking at me from the edge of my bed or I convinced myself the bed was shaking.  Not to mention the name of her imaginary friend (Captain Howdy) lingered in my head and haunted me when I tried to sleep. Side note: Captain Howdy
Capt. Howdy...I hate this guy!!!
is so popular in our culture that he has his own font, songs about him, a band name after him and his own website...C-R-E-E-P-Y!!  As a teen, I knew the difference between real and fantasy; however, fantasy created sleepless nights and phobias that I had to extinguish as an adult. 

He is definitely not a peer helper!
The world of fantasy and reality is still at war in our culture.  The national news broke a tragic story about the stabbing of a 12 year old Wisconsin girl who was stabbed by her friends to please an imaginary character called "Slender Man".  Unfortunately, that is not the first time I had heard about Slender Man.  When my son was 16, he mentioned the name of this fictional character to me in passing.  "Hey mom, do you know about Slender Man?"  Clueless, I starred at him blankly and changed the subject. Well, who is Slender Man?  Websites say that he is an urban legend created about five years ago on the internet and has become an international horror figure! He is a tall, faceless, slender man in a suit who goes after children in the woods...a parents' nightmare.

Apparently, the girls were surfing the web when they came upon the site Creepypasta.  Creepypasta is a website that describes items like creepy chain letters, eerie found photographs, and other urban legends. After the incident, Creepypasta and Slender Man have become the center of controversy in the news causing panic in parents of tweens and teens.  Immediately, parents began asking their kids about Slender Man, checking their browser histories, looking in their rooms for evidence, and the list goes on and on. 

News Story About Slender Man Stabbing

Do you have students in your school who have a difficult time distinguishing fact from fiction or reality from fantasy?  The lives of parents (including myself) are busy and they often become oblivious to the online lives of their adolescents.  So, it often falls on the school to educate parents and that is why our job as school counselors is so important!   We have the opportunity to educate parents, students, and community members about the dangers of unsupervised online activities and the impact on our communities. 

Here is a list of helpful resources and tips that we employ in school:
  1. Provide education to parents and staff. One website that I really find helpful for students and parents is Common Sense Media. The website provides lesson plans, videos, resources, rating scales for movies and games, and lots more! 
  2. Employ peer education programs that use peer to peer education.  One strategy that my peer educators teach and role play is empathy.  Here is a lesson on empathy from Teaching Tolerance.
  3. Educate staff and parents about the teen brain and how it develops.  I am really in this teen brain is simply amazing to me!  The teen brain  is an amazing organ which can impacted by the environment, substances, and nutrition.  
  4. Increase your knowledge about mental health.  Here is an interesting article on Cannabis Use and Psychosis in Non-Psychotic Teens.
  5. Increase your skill set!  I am attending a training on assessing youth suicide and I plan to attend additional trainings in assessing potential youth violence. Here are two websites that you may find some helpful resources about threat assessments. 

The Teen Brain

I hope you can find some helpful  information in this post and that isn't too creepy.  However, life is often unpredictable and that is what makes our job even more important and powerful as school counselors!!  YAY US!!!!

Additional Resources
Threat Assessments for Youth
ASCA Ethical Considerations for Threat Assessments
Fairfax County Virginia Resources and Worksheets for Staff and Parents
Assessing Violent Students

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

School Counselors: Not Just Nice People with Degrees

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ahhhhh summer!  A time to relax, rejuvenate, and prepare for the next school year.  Hopefully you are doing some activities this summer that will recharge your batteries (I am going to ASCA14!).  As you prepare for next year, consider creating documents and brochures that explain your role as a counselor and your ethical responsibilities to your clients.

E-T-H-I-C-S...the word makes me roll my eyes.  I have been to so many ethic workshops in my career that I feel that I could recite the content word for word.  However, there are those workshops that make your heart skip a beat and cause you to reevaluate your procedures.  Recently, I attended our school's end of the year professional development workshop which featured five hours of ethics.  In this workshop, the focus was on client information, the ethical role of the school counselor, and guidelines for case notes.  In this post, I would like to share some information with novice and seasoned school counselors so that you can make sure that you stay out of trouble!

Client Information

The way we communicate in today's society is primarily by email.  In schools, we can receive an email that has a thread a mile long and contains information about a student that could be potentially harming to the student.

Tip: When you communicate by email, be careful not to use students' names or even initials. My suggestion is to use the term "student" or make a comment that you would like to talk about this student in person. Anytime your name is attached to an email, you become part of potential legality. It is important to note that when you respond in an email that you use professional language because emails can be subpoenaed for court. 

 Here is an example of an inappropriate email from a school counselor.  I hate to admit that I have replied to teachers with too much information.

Here is a more appropriate response to the teacher's email by the school counselor.

Ethical Role of the School Counselor

At the beginning of the year, it is important that you spell out your role as the school counselor, explicitly state your credentials, identify your professional memberships, name the services you provide, expose the limits of your confidentiality, and your office hours.

Tip: My suggestion is to type up a letter to your clients (parents, students, and staff) and include it in your school handbook.

Here is an example of a school counseling introductory letter.

In addition to your letter, print out a copy of your ethical codes and so you can have immediate access to them.  Remember your counselor's ethical codes trump educational codes. Also, you should create an elevator speech for what you do you and how you accomplish these goals.

Guidelines for Case Notes

There are two types of case notes: sole possession notes and counseling case notes.  What is the difference?

  • Sole possession notes: these are personal notes that you never reveal or share with anyone that you have them. not acknowledge or show them to anyone!
  • Case notes: notes that serve as a memory aid and include observations and your professional opinion (do not use labels or diagnoses). 
Remley & Herlihy (2014) give guidelines for keeping case notes for school counselors.  
  1. Do not hesitate to keep notes if they help you remember specific situations.
  2. It is considered unusual if counselors do not have case notes.
  3. Always write notes as if they will be shared with your client, the newspaper, radio, or television.
  4. Separate your notes into objective and subjective categories.
  5. In the objective section, record precisely what was said, what you said, and what you observed. Do not draw any conclusions or enter speculations (you can put these items under observations). For example write down verbatim what occurred in a bullying, abuse, or attempted suicide situation. 
  6. In the subjective section, record any thoughts that you may need for the future (impressions of the client, reminders of your present thought, or plans for the next session).
  7. Keep your case notes locked!
  8. Keep notes on projects, counseling accreditation standards, and agency procedures according to those standards.
  9. Regularly destroy your case notes by shredding them.
  10. Keep your case notes as long as you think you will need them.
  11. When destroying your notes, do not include notes in which you have documented steps you have taken to protect yourself in the event your are accused of wrongdoing.
  12. Never, destroy case notes after you receive a subpoena or if you think you might be receiving a subpoena in the future. 
Tip: It is important to remember that all educational records belong to the parents or guardians according to FERPA and they have the final say of what happens to those notes.  One other tip, always write down when you conduct a consultation and who you consulted on a case...this is very important!

So today, we have learned that ethics is our friend and gives school counselors a rationale for why we do what we do (not that we just heard this from someone and it worked for them... aka -- WA-LA).

Why Ethics:

1. Helps school counselors to stay out of legal trouble (I like this one the best!).

2. Enhances your obligations and responsibilities to students.
3. Heightens your sense of awareness when sending email, discussing confidential information, etc.
4.Represents your counseling profession...remember, you do not get a day off!
5. Helps us to perform a standard of care to avoid negligence.

I hope this post reminds you about potential issues in school counseling and how to avoid them!!


ASCA School Counselor Ethics
NBCC Code of Ethics
ACA Code of Ethics

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pining for Pinterest: 124 Pages of Resources!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Whew, after a week I have finally narrowed down my list of 124 counseling and non-counseling pinterest pages that I regularly follow.  Although I follow 931 pages (I know I am obsessed!), these are the pages that pop up the most on my home page with helpful resources. Since it is summer, check out the pages below and I am sure you will find loads of resources for the new school year.  

Oh, by the way, I am always looking for new pages to follow so feel free to message me any pages that you like!!

Happy Pinning!

Counseling Pinterest Pages

APTED of San Francisco
Eating disorders
Trauma and PTSD
Ashley Ann
Team building activities
Audrey "Ohmygoh"
Counseling resources
Dr. Judy Belmont
Psychotherapy, psychology, and wellness blogs
Lynn Beverly
Counselor "stuff"
Margaret Bloomer
Role of the school counselor
Kelly Boerckel
College/Career counseling
Roslyn Breyfogle
Counseling forms
Stacy Browning
Professional Development
Andrea Burston
School counselor printables
Susan Spellman Cann
School counselors on Twitter
Carly Collins
Therapeutic videos
Cheree Cardwell
High school counseling ideas
Samantha Chambers
Counseling toolbox
Jennifer Cobb
Counseling activities, lessons, and information
The Counseling Geek
Blogging, resources, and technology information
Anna Coyne
High school counseling resources
Lorie D
High school counseling
Bud Dee
You Tube counseling videos
Megan Eickhoff
Counseling resources
Erica Ann
Counseling office organization
K-12 school counseling worksheets
Jennifer Filer
Ideas for the counselor's office
Stephanie Fredericka
Helping students with anxiety
Jamie Friedland
Social-Emotional Learning
Candace Gadomski
School counseling "things"
Justina Gorman
School counseling resources for elementary, middle, and high school
Kathy Golden
Jennifer Gray
Counseling tools
Ang Hamiliton
School counseling posters
Julie de Azevedo Hanks
Therapy blogs
Marilyn Heinrichs
Anger resources
Beth Helman
School counselors and teachers
Bridgett Helms
3,500 counseling resources
The Helpful Counselor
School counselor collaboration station
Brittany Hemann
School counseling
Vicki Hessler
Adolescent brain development
Jennifer Hollis
School counselor information and resources
Laura Crisp Ketchie
Eating Disorders
Jewelee Kranning
School counseling
Amber Kuntz
Office ideas, forms, websites, and more...
Lisa Landy
Heather Lider
Alexis Liley
Counseling office ideas
Sara Loker
School counseling
Bethany D. Lopez
School counseling program ideas
Sara Madrigal
Pins regarding bullying, ADHD, autism, eating disorders, social skills, and lots more
Erin Mason
Blogging, technology, and lots of great resources
Megan McCleary
Red Ribbon Week Ideas
Salomeh Mohajer
Trauma and abuse
Carol Miller
Middle school counseling
Jodi Mills
School counseling resources
Melissa Mooney
School counseling blogs
Tammy Morrison
School counseling resources
Tammie Mueller
Middle school counseling and transition to high school
Linda Nightingale
Blogs and counseling websites
Christa Oberthier
Lots of information regarding personality, problem solving, addiction, etc.
Kim Padilla
School counseling information
Jeanne Perry
Resiliency and prevention
Margo Petroll
Conflict resolution
Pam Puls
School shooting resources
Ruth Ralston
Counseling posters, resources, supplies, and other neat things
Elissa Ray
Over 1,800 school counseling pins
Meghann Redd
School Counseling
Tonia Romancheck
High School counseling
Sarah Roper
School counseling resources
Autumn Manley Rowe
Julia Royal
College/financial aid planning
Lisa Savinon
School counseling
School Counselor Central
Tools for activities (counseling)
School Counselor Collaboration Station
Growing site for resources and collaboration
Danielle Schultz
Madeline Sells
School counseling
Vicki Simester
Counseling articles
Danielle Simpson
High school counseling
Leslie Simpson
Counseling bulletin boards
Katie Shafer
Crisis counseling
Deanna Parks Shuler
Solution Focused Counseling
Lanese Slagle
Counseling resources including ideas for bulletin boards
Tennessee School Counselors
High school resources
Tennessee School Counselors
Margie Shepheard
Counseling books, videos, icebreakers, and strategies for working with students in grades K-8
School counseling technology
Maggy Simonetti
High school and college resources
Julia Taylor
Body image
Trista Thompson
High school counseling resources
Cathy Thompson-Poston
School counseling resources
Ann Tilman
Blogging resources
Mallory Timberlake
High School Counseling
Tosha Todd
Career counseling
Alina Traveller
Getting down to business (counseling & blogging)
Cecilia Valencia
Almost 1,000 counseling resource pins
Hennie Verhoef
Multiple pins regarding therapy in the areas of resilience, conflict, emotions, etc. 
Michele Vincent
Counseling forms and printables
Jenny Vowell
Concentration on middle/high school counseling
Cynthia Wagenhauser
Teen therapy resources
Susan Washa
Group counseling
Jennifer Ann Wendland
School counseling resources
Christie Widger
Counseling humor
Sarah Woods
Almost 2,000 counseling resources, forms, and ideas
Hayley Young
Bullying resources

Technology Pinterest Pages

Donna Baumbach
Twitter tools
Beth CP
Technology and apps for therapists and counselors
Laura Candler
Technology in education
Med Kharback
Free technology for educators
Carol Miller
Technology in counseling
Russ Sabella
Technology and resources for school counselors
Shelly Terrell
Video storytelling
Susan Wilbanks
Counseling technology

Non School Counseling Pinterest Pages

Bully Definitions-Solutions
Bullying resources
Natalie Cannatella
Myers-Briggs Personality Test
Crisis Connection
Sexual assault resources
Developmental Resources
Webinars, training information, and other resources
Free Powerpoint Templates
Power point resources
High School Herd
Exclusively for high school educators
Laska Counseling
Self care resources
Peer helping
Suicide prevention, bullying prevention, and crisis resources
Private Practice From the Inside Out
Social Justice
Safe Schools Network
Anti-bullying/Gay-Straight resources
School Counselor Network
Counseling products we love
Stomp Out Bullying
Bullying resources
Teaching Tolerance
Teen Self Injury Treatment
Self Injury
Dr. Kay Trotter
Teen counseling