Tag Archives: School Counsellor

The Importance of Understanding Context

Posted by: Lori Walls on July 8, 2011 2:27 pm

Part of being a graduate student is the task of trying to secure funding for research by writing and applying for grants. A result of the grant application process is developing a thick skin when reading the feedback rejection letters. In response to one of my recent grant applications I received comments indicating that during a period of my undergraduate studies (almost 20 years ago) I had let some of my marks slip. This resulted in the grant reviewers deeming my academic achievements as a spotty performance.  After my initial outrage I desperately wanted a chance to explain the context in which the slipping had occurred. Realizing that it was futile to explain I started to think about the influence of context on the academic and social success of the students that I currently work with and how enhancing my understanding of these factors may translate into different and more adaptive interventions.

In a recent study conducted by Dominguez, Viteiello, Fuccillo, et al. (2011) the additive and interactive effects of children’s context-specific problem behaviours and classroom quality dimensions were examined to determine their influence on  children’s approaches to learning. In this study teachers rated the problem behaviours and approaches to learning of 275 preschool children selected from an urban sample in the United States. Independent assessors conducted classroom observations to evaluate classroom quality. This study is of particular interest as it allowed “children’s needs to be addressed in a contextually and developmentally appropriate manner with the goal of promoting more successful engagement in learning opportunities” (p.177). 

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Reflective Practice: An Essential Part of Developing Cultural Competency

Posted by: Lori Walls on June 22, 2011 2:10 pm

 Most school counsellor’s approach their jobs with the goal of wanting to helping students achieve their best in academics, adaptive functioning, and social competencies. It is my belief that to do this requires the school counsellor to commit to a regime of reflective practice which can be a difficult task. I recall the first time that I encountered a culture competency model of counselling and was asked to identify my biases to my fellow classmates. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t have any biases and that I would be willing to work with any student on any issue. Upon further questioning and reflection I realized that having biases is unavoidable and that one of the most important aspects of being a counsellor is to acknowledge and exam our world views to develop an understanding of how those views shape our practice perspectives and influence our interactions with students. Sue and Sue (2002) described culturally competent counsellors as having an awareness of their own assumptions, values, and beliefs, having knowledge about the worldviews of others, as well as possessing the skill necessary to use therapeutic modalities and interventions that are most appropriate for the individual client. Schools are a microcosm that reflects the ever changing and growing diversity in today’s society and as such it is more important than ever that counsellors commit to deepening our understanding of ourselves and the impact our views have on our interactions and interventions with students.

As this week marks the beginning of PRIDE week in Toronto and the topic of this blog is about developing competency when working with diverse populations, I started thinking about the importance of the school counsellor in helping to create and maintain the school as a safe and supportive place for all students.  The following link is to a guide created by Wells and Tsutsumi (2005) titled, Creating Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools for LGBTQ Students.  I found the guide useful in helping to understand the needs of LGBTQ students.  The guide offers information, strategies and ethical guidelines to help school counsellors develop supports, services, and interventions for LGBTQ students.


Sue, D., & Sue, D. (2002). Counselling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. NY: John Wiley & Sons.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Self-Injury: The Role of the School Counsellor

Posted by: Lori Walls on June 10, 2011 2:15 pm

I recently conducted a series of interviews for a research project where a number of the participants were adolescents. While speaking with the youth it was hard not to notice how many of these individuals presented with major scarring up and down their arms from what I assume, were repeated engagements in self-harming behaviours. This observation was the impetus for investigating the role of the school counsellor in the prevention and intervention of self-harming behaviours.  In the literature, self-harming behaviour is most often referred to as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and is defined as the intentional destruction of body tissue that is not culturally sanctioned and is without conscious suicide intent. The most common forms of NSSI are reported as self-cutting, scratching, burning and hitting. North American prevalence rates for NSSI in the adolescent population range from 15-28% with the age of onset ranging between 13-15 years (Heath, Baxter, Toste, & McLouth, 2010).

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

A Multicultural Tale of Mistrust

Posted by: Guest on March 29, 2011 1:39 pm

“And you will not put the mental illness on my son…” said the woman with a heavy African accent and an angry voice. That was a message left over the weekend on my work phone. A few weeks into my new job as a multicultural liaison for an agency in greater Vancouver, this was what I encountered on a Monday morning, as I arrived at my office. The woman was a recent refugee from Africa. She came with her baby and a boy in Grade 3 – my client.   This boy was having a lot of trouble in school; he would not stay in class, but wander around the patio sometimes leaving school grounds, often showing aggression towards other students during recess. Various staff had attempted to make contact with him but he would withdraw, hiding under tables and hugging himself as he rocked back and fourth.

I had a meeting on Friday with the school counsellor, teacher, school liaison, my client’s mother and grandmother, and  the mother had agreed that her son would start seeing me.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA