- Be flexible!!!! I have a weekly schedule of all of my lessons, groups, meetings and individual kiddos that I need to see. No matter how much I try to stick to my schedule, things inevitably come up. Therefore I try to be very flexible with my scheduling and often needing to reschedule things.
- Have the ability to switch gears quickly. There are many times that you will go from a child melting down, to teaching a lesson, to sitting in a Children's Division investigation, to drying a Kindergartner's tears. My best advice to this is to take a few deep breaths and keeping going. if you have a minute to take a break (even if you lock yourself in the restroom), take it!
- Have a sense of humor. The life of a counselor can often be very challenging and demanding. No matter the situation, find something to laugh about (even if you are laughing at yourself). Laughter is truly the best medicine and can help you stay emotionally available when you are needed.
- Be organized. I cannot stress this one enough! Find what works for you when organizing your room, supplies, notes, thoughts, lessons, files, etc. It took me a few years to really get the organization thing down but I am always tweaking to make it better.
- Remain open to suggestions and new ideas. No matter how long you have been in counseling there are always new and different ways of doing things.
- Stay on top of new ideas. Join chats, Facebook groups, and follow blogs. We can learn so much by helping and teaching others.
- Be a team player. There is no way I would be able to do my job well without the AMAZING people I work with. Working with kids is a collaborative effort! I have always loved the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." However in a school it should be, "It takes a village to educate a child." No one is alone in the process of teaching our students.
- Find people you can turn to. Many elementary schools only have one counselor per building. I could see how someone could feel very isolated and alone in a school. It is vital to find people in your school who can support you and can be a shoulder for you. Find a another counselor or group of counselors you can meet up with every once and awhile to support each other.
- Take care of yourself! Whatever it is that helps you unwind...do it! Whether it is a bubble bath, dinner out with friends, a massage, or exercise, make sure you have something that you can do to keep your mental health strong.
I truly feel that I have the best job in the world! Just like most jobs, counseling has its ups and downs. However, I would not trade it! If you are thinking about a career in counseling, you will not find a job that is more challenging and rewarding (with the exception of teaching).
What advice would you give to a new counselor? I would love to hear your ideas (and may steal some for myself).