Written by Lea Lovell, School Counselor, Yoga Teacher + Counseling Curriculum Coordinator
I am a school counselor at two Catholic schools in Northeast Iowa. Aquin Catholic is a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Cascade, Iowa. St. Francis Xavier is a kindergarten through sixth grade school in Dyersville, Iowa.
As a school counselor, I wear many hats. I work with students individually and in groups, teach classes at all grade levels, communicate with parents, teachers, and administration, and much more!
I have always been a lover of yoga and all things mindfulness. I connect to it and see the astounding effects it has on me personally in my life, those around me who practice it and the students I teach.
I became involved with Challenge to Change when I took my 95 hour kids yoga teacher training. During that I learned, among many things, to speak my truth and to ask for what I want (thank you to C2C’s CEO, Molly, for those invaluable lessons!). Because of those lessons, I am now the author of the complete elementary school counseling curriculum for Challenge to Change.
I believe, and countless studies have shown us, that mindfulness is at the core of healthy growth. Therefore, I incorporate mindfulness strategies into every aspect of my school counseling career. Finding the pause in life and learning strategies to deal with our thoughts and feelings has proven to be an indispensable life skill for humankind.
I love all parts of my job as a school counselor, but I would be lying if I said that providing students with one on one sessions isn’t my favorite! I compiled a list of my favorite tools that have proven to be crucial to my role time and time again. These tools incorporate mindfulness in different ways and help support the skills I learned during my education. Plus, they ensure that I continue to grow in every one on one session!
5 Tools that Every School Counselor Needs
1. Breath Deck
As a school counselor I find myself often referencing the breath deck. Breath is such an important part of emotional regulation. My students find the breaths helpful and simple to use in a moment of need.
The breath deck provides various options for balancing their emotions. Each card is color-coded into four categories so you can easily indicate the desired outcome of each breath practice.
For example, a child feeling anxious about a test will find calm with a blue card, such as finger tracing. Once the child is calm, they might try an orange card, such as magnet breath, to boost their focus and concentration
It is always exciting to hear how often students use their breaths to independently self-regulate!
2. Emotions Chart
An emotions chart displays a variety of emotions color-coded by category and intensity. It can be utilized for students to try to find the word they are looking for to describe an emotion they are having a hard time describing. Simultaneously it helps students build their emotional literacy and even begin to think of why they may be feeling the emotion opposed to a different emotion.
You can get a FREE emotions chart included in C2C’s emotions activity bundle.
3. Cognitive Distortion Visual
I find it very helpful to keep a visual that lists the cognitive distortions that can be addressed through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This proves to be helpful for both me, the counselor, and the student.
As a student talks, we can both look at the visual and address any distortion in thinking that may arise and work through changing the thought.
4. Emotions Card Deck
An emotions card deck features a variety of emotions with the name of the emotion and a graphic to match the emotion. I often use an emotion chart to check in with students to see what emotions they have been feeling lately and why. This is a great way to encourage students to open a discussion about their emotions and what internally or externally may be influencing them to feel a certain way.
5. Therapeutic Tools
Never underestimate the calming power of play dough or a sand tray!
I keep a variety of therapeutic tools in my office:
Crayons and coloring pages
I find the tools help in building rapport with students. In times of emotional overload it gives them sensory input to help bring them to an emotional state that is conducive to therapeutic conversation. Sometimes all students need at the moment is to self regulate with the choice of a tool in a safe, quiet environment.
I hope that you'll join me for my FREE upcoming webinar, Tips and Tricks for Incorporating Mindfulness into the School Counseling Setting.
In it, you'll be guided through a number of emotional regulation techniques. Plus, I'll answer any questions you may have about the new counseling curriculum.
This webinar will leave you feeling empowered to integrate many new techniques into your own unique school setting.
See you there!