Our learners at JBCN are exposed to various forms of learning and interaction. As they attend to, experience, learn and acquire such a wide variation of activities, they face several stressors and hence these young minds require a School Counsellor who can imbibe several roles. These roles vary from being a third umpire while two friends try to rattle off issues between them, a mother to provide warmth and support during failures or disappointments, a supportive friend who listens, understands and defends, a mentor/guide to suggest effective solutions and a stern father who helps them define black from white.
While their minds are developing and forming impressions, it is vital to work on stressors that (if left unattended) may lead to long standing emotional and behavioural difficulties. Child counselling provides children with an environment where they can explore their difficulties through child-friendly and therapeutic approaches. It mainly follows the below mentioned process:
Facilitate self-expression The process of finding an answer begins by understanding the question first. Counseling therapy helps children fully express their wants, worries and fears. Through colours, puppets, games, clay and pretend play rapport is been built. This helps to understand the child’s inner world i.e. how loved he/she feels and how he/she relates to the people around.
Identifying behaviour patterns and its origin Behaviour may be learnt or innate but a pattern is often formed on the basis of how it is reinforced. For example, a child who is very energetic - if his/her energy is channelized constructively they learn to manage the excess energy. However, if left unattended, dealing with his/her behaviour may turn into a huge challenge. In simple terms, this phase of Counselling involves a comprehensive study of what occurs before an inappropriate behaviour (i.e. trigger/antecedent), nature of inappropriate behaviour and what happens after such a behaviour occurs (i.e. response/consequence). Recognizing these behaviour patterns is a core step of child counselling and helps a great deal in remedying behavioral difficulties.
Modifying the child’s behaviour Floods can be prevented by building a dam/effective drainage system or fire can be prevented with the use of smoke detectors. Similarly, Counseling comes handy to prevent inappropriate behaviour patterns from developing into personality disorders. It also prevents emotional disturbances to reach an aggressive/depressive state of mind.
During this process, learners are helped to identify and accept faulty behaviour/emotional patterns and alternative patterns are suggested as well as practiced.
A flavourful, rich, dense, moist chocolate cake can be made only when all the ingredients are mixed proportionately. Similarly, Counseling process fails if it is confined only to the Counsellor’s office. As mentioned in my previous article “Raising kids is like making Bhelpuri”, Counseling is most successful only when all the significant individuals (parents, teachers, peers and Counselor) in the child’s life work in coherence.
Unfortunately….. Most people think: ‘Going to therapy means you are weak, flawed or crazy’. The truth is: ‘Majority of people seeking therapy are ordinary, everyday people dealing with ordinary, everyday problems.
Dealing with defeat in a game, quarrels among peers, speaking in front of the class, fearing an exam, inability to block distractions while studying, time management, decision making skills, communication and social skills, poor body image are few examples of common issues which bring people to therapy. It is important to note that all the above are life skills and mostly children are expected to learn them vicariously. While they attempt to adapt to these skills within their classroom, some of them may need an extended support. Counseling thereby helps them learn these skills first hand. It is either provided within the classroom or during one on one sessions (depending upon the need). It does not involve making decisions for the child or imposing beliefs on them. It mainly helps them develop a positive attitude to life by recognizing their strengths.
Dalai Lama rightly said, “It is vital that when educating our children’s brains, we do not neglect to educate their hearts” . Thus, Counselling helps in accentuating a learner's full potential by setting aside all the obstacles that may hold them back.
This article is contributed by our school Councellor, Ms Sheetal Rachlera