The role of a teacher usually involves very public and social endeavours, but as a new teacher I often found myself feeling isolated from colleagues when it came down to dealing with students who were displaying emotional or behavioural difficulties. It can be a vulnerable and intimidating experience to seek help from fellow teachers when one is new to the profession due to a fear of being viewed as inexperienced or incompetent. Several years of teaching later I realized that all teachers face these types of challenges with students despite their years of experience, but often the feelings of isolation and the hesitation to seek help remain. Writing now from the perspective of a school counsellor, I believe that with the increased demands on teachers and counsellors it is more important than ever to find ways to collaborate and consult on difficult issues in order to build capacity, extend resources, and to break down barriers that have lead to isolation.
Farouk (2004) posited a model of group consultation that involves teachers providing emotional and professional support to one another with the school psychologist playing a facilitative role. As with any group work, there are issues that must be addressed prior to assembling the group. Farouk suggested establishing support for the group at a management level and then seeking membership in the group by giving a description to teachers that outlines the group’s purpose, function and practical implications. During the first meeting of the group roles need to be defined, the process explained, and issues of ethical considerations and confidentiality discussed. As the school psychologist/counsellor, your role in the initial meetings is to keep the group on task, balance the input, and to model the type of process and discussion questions needed to keep the group moving in a problem-solving direction (Farouk, 2004).
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA