I remember learning that the counselor’s room should be a safe space for students. Within schools, counselors are symbols of acceptance, tolerance, peace, and understanding. Counselors are who kids can come to get the help they need. Sometimes, though, the kids don’t see it that way. There can be different reasons for this: cultural views towards counseling/help-seeking; negative experiences with other counselors in the past; perceptions about what counseling is in that particular school; or strict instructions to keep family business within the family. Sometimes, they just don’t trust you. Sometimes, they just don’t trust me. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.
This counselor was describing an incident in which an emotionally distraught student was brought to her office. By “emotionally distraught,” I mean out-of-control behaviors that included tearing posters off of walls. A very similar incident happened my first year as a counselor. It’s a very helpless feeling, and the best you can do is keep that student safe until that emotional flood subsides. After that, lots of follow-up with caregivers and school staff, including a plan that addresses the specific needs of that student.
In some cases, I don’t think the preconceived notions of “seeing the counselor” come into play as much as there is an emotional state of that student overriding their cognitive abilities to maintain control of their behaviors. It can be during those times that trust is built.
Crisis intervention is an important part of what we do. It’s important to remember our ability to promote healing during those challenging times.