Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Guidance" counselors?

Last week one of my teachers reminded us that if he knew a student was cutting him or herself (or doing a variety of other things) he was legally required to report them to a higher authority. He expressed his contradicting feelings on this issue, and the class erupted in an extremely emotional conversation over the rule. Many different opinions were expressed.

In general, people understood the reasoning behind the rule. Teacher's are not necessarily trained in dealing with issues like cutting, especially if they are life threatening to the student.

However, many students were extremely opposed to the idea of forcing someone into therapy, or sending them to the guidance counselor against their will. One girl complained that the guidance counselors help you so they don't get sued, but don't really care about you. I have heard from other students in many different schools that going to the guidance counselor of their school is something to be avoided at all costs. A guidance counselors is often seen as another dean, someone out to get you.

If that's the way students are feeling about the person meant to support them, something must be changed.

I do not believe that the role of guidance counclers should be diminished. Having a trained and trustworthy adult on your side is important for every high school student. However, many guidance counselors around the city are not giving a true sense of support and understanding totheir students.

One of the biggest problems is that guidance counselors in many schools do not know their students on a personal level. If there were more guidance counselors per school in charge of less students, a better relationship would be formed. Students should not be sent to complete strangers to confide in. I also believe in the idea of a small group advisory period each week, led by the counselors. Additionally, one and one meetings should be arranged at some point so every student can meet their guidance counselor. Hopefully, guidance can be seperated from the idea of discipline.

I know there are some really great guidance counselors out there, and I respect their effort and their important role in students lives. However, many need to become more involved with their students and really provide a place for students to come.


Louis said...

I am curious about the number of Spark Counselors in the city- in my experience they are thus far a myth.
For those of you who don't know, "SPARK empowers adolescents through information about drugs and alcohol, counselor/peer empathy, sharing experience, and coping together with pain and guilt. It empowers adolescents through individual and group participation to overcome isolation and alienation and to develop self-awareness and a sense of belonging. It also empowers adolescents through positive role models and constructive values." The "myth" of these supposedly great counselors, though the paragraph above sounds a little kitschy, is that they are actually trained to deal with problems AND that they have actual confidentiality obligations to the kids- which typical counselors don't. just a interesting note on the type of training out there that does seem to being implemented.

Toni Bruno said...

Yeah, I've never actually heard of that. If it actually works, it sounds very good. One of the biggest problems is that the only people students like to go to in confidence are not actually trained to deal with their problems. So that would be a good solution.

Louis said...

I just noticed this teen-written article about rates of the issues we discussed in this post and the comments:

the lack of knowledge and attempts to solve/treat is scary