Free List of Counseling Worksheets for Working With Challenging Students

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. 


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
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. 


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.


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.  


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.  


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.


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