Counseling is not always a cake walk. It can feel overwhelming to fit everyone into your schedule, organize and run groups, and analyze data all while balancing a potentially new role. leaving you feeling burnt-out and unappreciated. Here are some practical solutions to make your counseling life easier.

Practical solutions to make your counseling life easier: starting a new counseling position mid-school year

Recently, I had a counselor ask me how to prep for a new position that's starting this week / mid-school year. It's not uncommon to start at the beginning of second semester or anytime throughout the school year. However, you may feel like you are being thrown upstream without a paddle, and since the other faculty members received their introduction and training back in the fall, they may forget that you are new and assume you are up to speed on everything. Don't fret, I've got you covered.

Here are my top 4 tips for starting a new counseling position mid-year:

  1. Leave the office! (Show face on campus and get to know as many people as you can.)

  2. Shadow teachers (You can observe teaching styles, learn classroom management strategies to use in your class lessons, and learn the teachers' names/faces. Plus it shows you respect their profession and are making an effort to learn as much as you can!)

  3. Prep your Meet the Counselor Lesson and Needs Assessment (You'll want to introduce your role to students and find out what support the school needs asap.)

  4. Join New Counselor Bootcamp! I have a free video series for interns, recent grads, and new counselors. Sign up here.

Practical solutions to make your counseling life easier: 2 secrets to streamline your schedule

1. Establish a Crisis Response Team Protocol

A Crisis Response Team consists of people who can help when a student is in crisis. Each person is assigned a designated part of the day when they are "on call" to help a student in crisis. This relieves you of always being the go-to person.

Potential team members could be the School Psychologist, Instructional Coach, Behavior Specialist, and the Principal.

google calendar

2. Put everything on the calendar

I'm not just talking about groups, lessons, and individual sessions, but schedule when you're going to check your emails, eat your lunch, and plan your lessons. And don't forget to give yourself a 10 minute buffer in-between kiddos to process, reflect, take notes, prep, or take a bathroom break!

Read more about streamlining your schedule here.

Practical solutions to make your counseling life easier: how to organize your small groups

Create a caseload spreadsheet

This lists all of the individual and small group students you see so you can keep track of everyone. You'll have information like who their teacher is, their area of need, parent contact, etc in one simple spreadsheet. Snag your template here.

Use folders

I love a good folder system! Have one group folder where you will keep your group rules, student sign-in sheets, and any discussion cards or group games. Then give each group member a folder. Inside they'll keep all of their worksheets, activities, crafts, and journals. At the conclusion of the group they can take home their folder to show parents what they've been working on in counseling. (Hello, advocating for your position by clarifying your role!)

counseling folders

Know your strengths and style

f you like to batch print and prep at the beginning of the semester then you can print all of your group materials and organize them into binders by session. If you're like me and a little more last minute, then make sure everything is organized in a Google Drive folder so you can quickly access and print the materials needed the morning of your session.

Getting organized allows you to spend less time planning and prepping small groups and more time counseling kiddos!

Practical solutions to make your counseling life easier: how to get started with data

Before you check out because it sounds too hard...stay with me. Data is the ultimate double whammy! Not only does it allow you to identify program deficits so you can help more students, but it advocates for your role!

These 2 data tools can help you easily track student progress.

  1. Behavior Surveys: Send these surveys to parents and teachers to collect baseline data on student behaviors. Then resend them to see if your interventions are working. These are the ones I created and use.

  2. Self-Assessments: Give students a pre and post self-assessment to see where they need support. You can then focus your sessions on these areas. Check out my self-assessments here.

Looking for data templates to get started? This bundle is a game-changer.

For more game changing counseling strategies check out the School Counseling Simplified podcast. Click here to listen.

I hope you feel relieved and ready to tackle what’s next for your counseling program. You’ve got this!


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