I have been a counsellor in elementary, middle and high school for 15 years now. Over those years I have dealt with a lot of students who truly needed my help. They come in with their hearts on their sleeves looking for ways to heal a wound that most people do not even see. I am glad to help these students not because it is my job but because it is what I love to do. It feels good to know that I have helped another person who may have otherwise suffered the pain of family chaos, abuse, neglect, anxiety, depression, etc.
Some students will see me for a few days until the problem lessens (issue with friends, anxiety over a test) and others will see me for longer periods of time (major family issues, personal difficulties). Sometimes you can get an idea of how often or how long you will see a student based on the issue and how they are able to cope. Some students are very resilient and learn how to pick up the pieces and move on quickly. Others need more time to work through issues, or perhaps they have no other means of support and I become the only person who they are comfortable talking to. I am here for all of my students, whether the problem is big or small.
I have some students who come to me and it really seems that they are in need of my services. They come to me with a variety of issues, often friend or family related and do not seem to know how to deal with even the smallest of issues. A sort of learned helplessness has set in and it is sometimes down to me to work with them to build resilience, strength and confidence. Again, this is something I love to do and consider it an important part of my job. To help someone build confidence is vital to my role as a guidance/school counsellor.
There is however, one aspect of my job that is often very frustrating. Students who create issues that do not exist just to come to the guidance office and get out of class. I have had students exaggerate family problems, create friendship issues and start drama within the school, just as an excuse to get out of class. The problem is that it is my responsibility to make sure there really is or is not an issue that needs to be addressed. To simply deny them access to my services sets a bad example for me and destroys my ability to build trust and rapport with them. I am sure I am not the only counsellor who has seen clients/students who truly are only there to waste time. The question is, how do we turn down services without negatively affecting any future counselling relationship you may have with that person?
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA