BC Counsellor - Winter 2013 - (Page 7)
If we didn’t already know it, we all learned in our first counselling course that our
connections with clients and students are crucial to our helping them. If we were lucky, we also learned, early on, that counsellors’ bridges to each other are central to our effectiveness and to our personal balance. So when it came time to choose a theme for our fall conference, Connect ’12, it was natural to focus on both kinds of bonds. At Connect ’12, our two keynote speakers reflected this double theme. Stuart Shanker spoke on the need for counsellors and others to give kids the close, painstaking attention that is needed to help them self-regulate; and Sandra Mathison dealt with the need for counsellors to stick together and learn from each other, in advocating for our students and in asserting our professional role. Why is it important for counsellors to keep connected to each other and how can we do so? Here are just a few of the established causes of school counsellor stress: the paperwork (and computer-work) burden, ambiguity and confusion in our role, elimination of community supports, time-consuming meetings, lack of informed and constructive supervision, increasing student-counsellor ratios, isolation at work, the need to keep troubling material confidential, and the wave of emotional and mental troubles that seems to be overcoming our young people. The previous paragraph derives largely from a study by a budding not-so-young UBC researcher. It’s from my own MA thesis on high school counsellor burnout. My quantitative research confirmed counsellors’ lived experience: that social support, including that of peers, is essential to combatting the job-related stress that leads to burnout. Two counsellors meet on the street. “How am I?” one asks. “Fine,” replies the other. “How am I?” An old joke, but it reminds us of our natural desire to meet and to share our perspectives with peers. When listening to our clients, our ears are tuned – like those of loyal guard dogs – to higher wavelengths. We hear and notice crucial things that other school professionals may not. This can accentuate the isolation we feel, as we sometimes are led to question our own instincts. Did I really hear the child say that? Did I respond the right way? Debriefing such situations with a fellow counsellor can be of immeasurable help. Consorting with fellow counsellors can help you relax and trust in yourself and your judgment, so you can do what you believe in doing and resist the latest fads and “experts.” Remember Mark Twain’s definition of an expert: an ordinary fellow from another town. Why not consider forming a counsellors’ local specialist association (LSA)? It’s easy to do. The meetings need not be formal; they can be held anywhere and anytime – sometimes during school hours, often after the final bell or over a meal. The important thing is to share our professional experiences with people who can understand them. A professional book club – with forays into non-counselling books – can be a great way to keep current in the literature and to form relationships while avoiding the stiffness of case meetings. Tired of going to workshops? Give one yourself. Counsellors – naturally modest people, usually have much to offer. People will show their appreciation. Counsellors are not all alike. We vary just as widely as our clients do. But despite our clear differences in method, style and personality, we are part of a grand family where we can feel understood. At Connect ’12 it was a personal treat for me to breathe an empathic air for the two days: to feel understood professionally in a way that is rare for me outside the company of counselling colleagues. During and after our engaging fall conference, it occurred to me that almost everything our BCSCA executive has done in 2012 is somehow related to connections and relationships – though we never explicitly discussed this focus. Our Twitter account and Facebook page are aimed at reaching out to our techsavvy colleagues. Our listserve is designed to connect school counsellors – and other
PRESIDENT continued on page 9
BC Counsellor | Winter 2013 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com 7
During and after
our engaging fall conference, it occurred to me that almost everything our BCSCA executive has done in 2012 is somehow related to connections and relationships.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Winter 2013
Book Review: Frog or Prince?
The Fine Print
Self Regulation: An Interview with Stuart Shanker
BCSCA Conference Workshop Review
Connect ’12 in Photos
Index to Advertisers
BC Counsellor - Winter 2013