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

Demand for mental health support for children continues to increase, and often parents turn to school counselors for help – if there is one!

Let’s look at how certified child life coaches are helping school counselors 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 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

  • Maggie Hayes – Former High School Counselor and now WISDOM Coach® in Florida

  • 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

Lisa O’Loughlin – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach®

WISDOM Coach Lisa O'Loughlin

 Lisa O’Loughlin – School Counselor and WISDOM Coach

As an elementary school counselor in Virginia, Lisa O’Loughlin has over 30 years of experience working with students. But nothing prepared her, or her peers, for the mental health and social development challenges that the post-COVID world has had on students.

As she sought a way to help her students develop strategies to manage their minds and emotions, she discovered the Adventures in Wisdom Life Coaching for Kids Curriculum that uses coaching stories and activities to teach 27 mindset skills to kids.

She got certified as a WISDOM Coach® and the results have been phenomenal:

  • She’s helping kids develop skills to understand their minds and emotions, so they are happier and better behaved at school
  • She’s created a side business that lets her work with kids in a more relaxed way while creating extra income
  • She sees an incredible opportunity for herself after retirement, where she can continue working with children in this positive way
  • She is on her own personal development journey – stretching outside of her comfort zone and even flying on an airplane by herself for the first time!

Click here to read Lisa’s full interview and see her on video.

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!”

Maggie Hayes – Former High School Counselor, now WISDOM Coach®

WISDOM Coach Maggie Hayes

Maggie Hayes – Former High School Counselor and now WISDOM Coach

Maggie Hayes worked as a high school counselor in New York City and Savannah, Georgia, before moving to Florida with her young family. She got certified as a child life coach so that she could continue supporting kids while being with her young family as well. 

Maggie shares her story here:

As a former school counselor, transitioning into becoming certified as a life coach for kids feels like a dream opportunity for me.

Sometimes we forget how challenging it can be to be a kid! Kids are learning who they are and where they fit into this world; learning how to navigate friendships, new feelings, and new responsibilities.

We’ve made strides in social-emotional learning in recent years, but often the focus in school is on academic success.

However, there are so many different factors at play which will impact and determine academic success- social relationships, emotional health, individual circumstances- to name a few.

As educators, oftentimes we can’t devote as much time to social emotional learning as we would like, or truthfully, as much is necessary. Not to mention that kids are often taught the value in being successful, without much emphasis on how to be successful!

As school counselors, part of our role is to support a child’s academic success by helping them navigate some of the “hows”, but with caseloads of 300-500 students, it can be challenging to say the least.

I left school counseling in 2021. The biggest driving factor behind my resignation was my own child who had just turned one, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, my husband and I were considering an out-of-state move.

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of education, and we will be learning and seeing the effects of these ramifications for a long time. Our kids need additional support now more than ever. Schools are forced to focus on addressing the academic regressions created by the pandemic. We need to look at the whole child in order to best support their success.

I see becoming a WISDOM coach®, especially at this moment in time, as a unique opportunity to provide students with the tools they need to to reach their full potential.

Pamela Olsen – Teacher and WISDOM Coach®

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®

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.

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.