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School Counselors and Child Life Coaches Work Better Together to Support Child Mental Health

National School Counseling Week – 2022

 

In recognition of U.S. National School Counseling Week (February 7-11), and their theme of “Better Together”, we wanted to share some of the ways that school counselors and child life coaches have worked “better together” to support children in the past year.

This page explains how school counselors and WISDOM Coaches are working together and shares four success stories from WISDOM Coaches.

 

 

Demand for Children Mental Health Support
Continues to Increase 

 

As the pandemic continues to evolve and linger, the feedback we’re hearing is that the demand for mental health support for children continues to increase.

As Cindy Young, a school counselor and certified WISDOM Coach in South Carolina observed, “With the current pandemic, I have seen an increase in anxiety and depression. Many children are worried about getting sick or losing loved ones. The pandemic has also heightened anxiety in children who were already struggling.”

This is in line with two significant announcements late last year in the U.S. In December 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General released a rare Surgeon General’s Advisory warning that “the challenges today’s generation of young people face are unprecedented…” and that “Ensuring healthy children and families will take an all-of-society effort”.

This followed an October 2021 statement by three U.S. pediatric organizations declaring children’s mental health a national crisis and calling for strategies to meet these challenges.

So let’s look at how school counselors and certified child life coaches are part of the all-of-society effort, working better together to help kids and families meet these challenges.

School Counselors and Child Life Coaches are Helping Kids

While School Counselors are a familiar resource for parents who are seeking support for their children, child life coaches are an effective resource that many parents – and school counselors – are not aware of!

Child life coaches help kids develop mindset skills that support mental fitness and protect child mental health.

They teach kids how to use the power of their minds to:

  • Create strong self-esteem
  • Build self-confidence
  • Make good decisions
  • Build resilience
  • And so much more
Teach kids to build neural pathways

Kids Build Strong Neural Pathways so They Feel Confident Learning Something New

How School Counselors and WISDOM Coaching Work Better Together

Adventures in Wisdom has certified hundreds of WISDOM Coaches, in over 30 countries, to teach mindset skills to kids using stories, activities and a proven STORY coaching process.

  • School Counselors are referring parents to WISDOM Coaches:

    To provide additional support to kids. In these cases, the WISDOM Coach is part of the child’s team.

  • School Counselors are also becoming WISDOM Coaches themselves:

So that they can add the coaching stories, activities and language to their school counseling tool kit. Some school counselors extend their work with kids after school, during the summer and school holidays, by having their own life coaching for kids business.

Meet four WISDOM Coaches who are school counselors or are working as part of a child’s team:

  • Cindy Young – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach® in South Carolina

  • Pamela Olsen – Teacher and WISDOM Coach® in Florida who teams with her school counselor and does extracurricular programs for her school

  • Dixie-Ann Harris – WISDOM Coach® in Louisiana who shares about being part of a student’s team and the results that child experienced

  • Rute Teixeira – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach® in Portugal

Cindy Young – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach®
South Carolina

WISDOM Coach Cindy Young

 Cindy Young – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach

Cindy Young has worked with children for over 15 years, has been a school counselor for 3 years, and a certified WISDOM Coach® since 2021.  She works with kids aged 5-12 in a public school in South Carolina.

She says, “Working with kids is my passion because mentally healthy kids become mentally healthy adults!”

She adds, “I like to incorporate the MindPower skills when working with my students. Teaching them about ‘power shifting’ to move past disappointments has been very beneficial and is the skill I teach most. Kids seem to like the terminology used to help identify what they are feeling. For instance, ‘the grungies’ helps them to identify and articulate any negative feelings.”*

Cindy usually works with kids one-to-one, but has done small group work as well.  With the pandemic, she has seen that working with a child one-to-one is the greater need.

“I use bits and pieces of the (Adventures in Wisdom) skill books at this time. I usually tie it in with the goals that I’m working on with the child.

“I think school counselors can benefit from being a WISDOM Coach because it gives you a different outlet and helpful tools to continue helping children become their absolute best!”

Pamela Olsen – Teacher and WISDOM Coach®
Florida

WISDOM Coach Pamela Olson life coach for kids

 Pamela Olsen – Teacher and WISDOM Coach

Pamela Olsen is a teacher at a private Christian school in Florida and she has been a certified WISDOM Coach® since 2019.

Pamela’s relationship with the school counselor is that she is an additional resource who can help extend the support that students have access to. She’s part of a child’s team!

Pamela also supports students in her school by running two after school programs where she teaches mindset skills to kids.

When her first program was offered as an extracurricular option, it filled within hours on the first day it was open.

“The first program I ran was MindPower. It was so well-received that I’m now doing a longer program that teaches all 27 mindset skills.”

Because Pamela has these child life coaching skills, all of her students can benefit, even if they’re not in the after school program or working with the school counselor.  Pamela knows how to help if she sees a child getting down on themselves, hesitating to try something new, making bad decisions or not being respectful.

“The magical thing about this program is seeing the students eyes sparkle when they realize they can be in their power and know it’s going to be awesome.”

Child Life Coach teaches kids to be resilient

WISDOM Coach Pamela uses art projects to reinforce kids’ understanding of the mindset skills of Resilience and Managing Mistakes

Dixie-Ann Harris – WISDOM Coach®
Louisiana

WISDOM Coach Dixie-Ann Harris

 Dixie-Ann Harris – WISDOM Coach

Dixie-Ann Harris has been a WISDOM Coach® since 2017.  She collaborated with a school counselor to help a 7-year-old girl in 2021.  The child’s mother had heard about Dixie-Ann’s work and asked if she would be willing to speak to her school counselor and perhaps step in to support her work outside of school hours, in her home setting.

The family had not been seeing much progress after three months of counseling, and the child’s anxiety was steadily rising in social settings.  The child was described as “shy” and “anxious” and had begun to have frequent tantrums with her parents.

The counselor had not been able to penetrate the girl’s shyness during her school sessions and thus couldn’t get her to cooperate and “open up”.

Dixie-Ann and the girl met at the child’s home first, to build familiarity. They played and painted for their initial visit.

The subsequent coaching sessions took place at a community park. Dixie-Ann worked with the girl for six weeks, two sessions per week. During that time, Dixie-Ann had weekly contact with the counselor and the parent by phone, to make sure everyone was on the same page.

The girl learned these mindset skills with Dixie-Ann:

  • Creating possibilities
  • Power Shifting for empowerment
  • Creating soaring self esteem
  • Creating self-confidence
  • Choosing self-talk
  • Self-coaching for daily mastery
  • Using the power visualization
  • Using affirmations
  • Overcoming fears
  • Managing change
The result?  Dixie-Ann says, “If I hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with ‘Christie’ before our work together, I may not have recognized her six weeks later. From a shy girl who spent her time coloring at a social event, while other kids ran from one activity to another, to an enthusiastic child who could self coach (and coach her mom). Her shift to empowerment was beautiful to experience!”

“Her shyness and lack of confidence was leading her to underperform in the classroom, which was the reason the counselor was called in. By the end of the six weeks of coaching, her sessions with the counselor were no longer needed.  She had learned to delicately step out of her comfort zone. Her teacher’s feedback was,  ‘Although Christie isn’t raising her hand to answer questions in the classroom, she no longer cries or goes into hysterics when she’s called on to give a response.’ This was major progress for her.

Rute Teixeira – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach®
Portugal

WISDOM Coach Rute Teixeira

 Rute Teixeira – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach

Rute Teixeira has been a School Counselor for two years and a WISDOM Coach® since 2017.  She teaches at a public school in Portugal, where she works with kids 6-10 years old.

When we asked Rute what changes she’s seen in the challenges and issues that kids have faced in the past year, she said she’s seen, “Increased anxiety, decrease in healthy peer connection, increase in bullying and emotional dysregulation.”

Rute uses the Adventures in Wisdom stories to help kids learn mindset skills and then helps kids practice the skills through art, music, short films, etc.  She says that what kids love most is that “they love the fact that they can relate to the events and characters in the stories and they particularly love the fables.”

The effectiveness of stories for teaching mindset skills is not surprising because brain science tells us that when we hear a story, multiple areas of the brain are stimulated, so humans are more likely to remember stories and their lessons than they are to remember facts and figures, which only activate one area of the brain.

As New York Times best selling author and America’s #1 Success Coach, Jack Canfield says, “Stories really Velcro the message to the brain.”

Rute adds that there is a benefit for the coach who is working with the child as well. She says, “The curriculum provides a structure to teach and train the kids on these subjects (mindset skills), and it also aids our own (the coach’s) personal training and transformation.”

In addition to working with children in her role as a school counselor, Rute also coaches children outside of school, which extends her impact on kids and extends her livelihood.

She even coaches adults. She adds, “I also coach adults occasionally and the stories actually provide a baseline for certain topics. I follow an identical structure and adapt to the client’s context.”

How You Can Help School Counselors and Child Life Coaches Work Better Together to Help Kids

  • If you’re a school counselor who wants to learn more about adding story-based mindset skills and life coaching for kids to your tool box, you learn more about Child Life Coach Certification and see a 1-page overview about life coaching for kids. 

  • If you’re a school counselor who would like to find a WISDOM Coach® to team up with, you can search the WISDOM Coach directory or complete the Connect with a Coach form and submit a query for coaches to respond to. (Most WISDOM Coaches work online, so working remotely together is a possibility). 

About Adventures in Wisdom

Adventures in Wisdom has trained coaches since 2013 and has Certified WISDOM Coaches in over 30 countries who are working with children both in person and online.  Most of our coaches have backgrounds in life coaching (for adults), education, or counseling/therapy/social work.

To learn more about working with a children’s coach or becoming a life coach.

More about American School Counselors Association’s National School Counseling Week

Check out their webinars for the week: