I practice solution focused brief counseling, which is exactly what it sounds like! I help children identify their personal goals, discover their strengths, and shift attention away from problems and towards solutions. My counseling strategies, while not the same as therapy, do incorporate some core principles, tools and techniques from person-centered, choice theory, and cognitive behavioral approaches, depending on the unique needs of each student. Children benefit from working in small groups. This provides an opportunity to observe social awareness, emotional regulation, and executive functioning (and consequently design activities to strengthen those skills). Group counseling is an effective way for kids to build social skills while also being part of a counseling relationship. Groups are generally formed by age and area of focus. Common groups include: Social/Emotional Intelligence, Restorative Practices, Healthy Friendships, and Executive Functions. 

 

 

Social/Emotional Intelligence

Social Thinking Groups.  These groups are designed for young children that need practice outside of the larger classroom to fine tune their social skills. They include:

 

  • Social skills. We use fun games and activities to learn and practice social skills such as active listening, taking turns, being kind, and handling frustration. We talk about pro-social skills such as those found in "Superflex and the Thinkables."

  • Social Learning. We build on the social skills with more kid-friendly games and lessons designed to help kids collaborate, share space, and work compassionately with others. 

 

  • Emotional regulation. Our school practices the “Zones of Regulation.” In group, we have opportunities to identify feelings and how they affect our behaviors. Kids love the “Kimochis” that help expand emotional vocabulary. 

  • Problem Solving. Through role play and group discussion we build up skills on how to solve our own problems and make successful choices in and out of the classroom. We learn to develop flexible thinking in lots of challenging situations. ​

Emotional Intelligence. For older students, promoting awareness of the benefit of emotional intelligence can help strengthen the following skills:

  • Self-awareness. Accurately identifying emotions and the behaviors they trigger.

 

  • Self-management. We cover skills such as impulse control, goal-setting and perseverance.

 

  • Social awareness. Understanding and respecting the perspective of others.

 

  • Relationship skills. How to build healthy peer relationships.

 

  • Responsible decision making. Using our mistakes as learning opportunities; focusing on the consequences of our actions and how we can make choices that lead to our goals.

 

  • Mindset for success. We work to develop a growth mindset – where we learn that it is our effort and enjoyment in any endeavor that contributes to our success.

 

Healthy Friendships. I believe it is important to empower kids to build positive relationships with their peers. Through games, role playing and group discussion, six key concepts are addressed:

 

  • Recognizing personal strengths and areas for growth in building healthy friendships

 

  • Making connections with others and learning the art of conversation

 

  • Developing pro-social skills across a variety of situations

 

  • Assessing the importance of up-standers in a bullying situation

 

  • Understanding how to resolve conflict in a way that is respectful to all parties involved

 

  • Handling peer pressure effectively

 

Executive Functions

Pivotal to life success, I believe that executive functions can be enhanced through small group work. Executive functions refer to the brain processes needed to sustain problem-solving toward a goal. Executive functions are organized into three domains: working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility. Highly developed executive functions are positively correlated with academic success, maintenance of healthy relationships, and overall well-being.

 

Young people that struggle with executive functions have difficulty recognizing and carrying out personal, social and academic goals. One area of skills training that can help in this area is organization training:

 

  • Daily, weekly, and monthly planning

  • Short and long term goal development

  • Note taking strategies

  • Reminder systems

  • Memory and mnemonic devices

  • Developing a growth mindset

  • Time management and prioritization of tasks

  • Metacognitive strategies

 

Restorative Practices

 

When there is conflict (whether it is a balance of power such as when friends fight, or imbalance of power such as a bullying situation), we can facilitate restorative dialogues to empower students to solve problems and build solutions collaboratively. ​