Wednesday of National School Counseling Week is “I love…” day! I wanted to do a quick blog post about why I love being a school counselor, and it occurred to me that I should start with how I decided to become a school counselor! Believe it or not, I wasn’t dreaming of being a school counselor when I was in elementary school! I’m hoping to change that for a few students along the way.
When I started college, I had med school on the brain. I had always had med school on the brain, actually. I knew I didn’t want to major in biology or chemistry (you’d think this would have given me an idea that maybe I wouldn’t end up in med school, haha!), so I chose Health and Exercise Science as my major. During the summer after my first year, I attended summer school to take 2 classes so that I could graduate a whole year early. That’s right high schoolers: take those AP classes! During the summer, I wrote a research proposal to study the effects of exercise on daily stress levels. What I learned was that stress is really the root of all chronic health issues! I was so intrigued by this that I declared a double major in Psychology. I also did an internship in which I taught health principles to individuals in the community. Talking to them, I realized there was so much more involved in a healthy lifestyle that just food and exercise choices. Many of these people were working multiple jobs, caring for elderly family members, or going to school at night – they had a lot on their plates, and all of these factors were affecting their overall physical, emotional, and mental health.
Fast forward to my junior/senior year of college, and I was fully engrossed in my psychology courses. I was particularly struck by a class I took on theories of personality and another on principles behavior modification. I applied for an internship at a local women and children’s domestic violence shelter. In this internship, I met women and children who had experienced so much trauma in their lives that simple daily functioning just was not something they could execute. After my first day at this internship, I applied for graduate school in clinical mental health counseling.
I began graduate school a total of 10 days after I graduated from undergrad. You could say I was eager 😉 I loved every.single.second. of my graduate program. When I began my clinical internship, I was working in a free mental health clinic in rural Virginia. I was interacting with clients who were living below the poverty line and were without health insurance. My clinical supervisor suggested that I reach out to one of the local school counselors to propose a small group counseling program for children who were experiencing some level of homelessness. This was absolutely the most meaningful experience I had in my clinical internship. Every time I was in the school meeting with these children, I was elated. I felt so fulfilled. I was learning from these children, and I honestly felt like I was making a difference.
I decided to apply for another graduate program in school counseling. That’s right; I was enrolled in 2 graduate programs at.the.same.time. It sounds daunting, but when you’re doing work that energizes you, it’s not really work at all.
So there you have it – my roundabout way at arriving in the field of school counseling. I’ll get back to the original point of this longer-than-intended post. I love being a school counselor for so many reasons, some of which are:
- Early intervention really changes the world. You can actually see the course of a child’s life being changed as they interact with the school counseling program.
- Meeting individually with a student and learning about his or her life really changes me for the better. Everything students choose to share is a little piece of them that I always hold with me.
- Small groups are so.much.fun. Watching students interact with each other, take leadership roles, and teach each other is an amazing picture of a microcosm of society in its best form!
- It really is a marvelous experience to see students change for the better. Students want to grow. They want to learn, and they want to be the best versions of themselves. It’s amazing to be a part of that growth.
- Students remind me that it’s okay to laugh at myself. I don’t know at what point adults start taking everything so seriously, but let’s get back that child-like sense of humor!
- Last but not least, kid hugs are the best 🙂