The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development’s Annual Counsellors’ Week was observed from 2-6 December 2013. The purpose of the yearly event is to create awareness on the services offered by this branch of the Ministry of Education’s Student Support Services Unit.
One of the activities planned for the week was a panel discussion where guidance counselors had the opportunity to answer questions and talk about the significance of counseling in general, but more specifically in schools.
Ms. Gloria Thomas, counselor responsible for District Three, outlined the crucial role that counseling plays in the life of a student.
“Counseling is very important for students in our education system. What we have realized, although the school provides some of the academic needs for the students, the social and the personal and also the career needs are not met. With counseling we address those deficiencies,” Ms. Thomas said.
“We have students who are lost, and when we say ‘lost’ we mean that they just come to school because they are sent. Through counseling, we help students to find their way; we help them to be able to find a purpose and reason to be in school.”
Apart from seeing students and working with parents, the counselors also work along with the principals and the teachers to ensure that all aspects of the student’s daily life are addressed.
“We also do consultations with the principals; we discuss cases that we think need special attention. Maybe a child may need lunch, or a child may need some sort of material support,” Ms. Thomas said. “We also do staff training, staff development. We will pull staff together at times to give them tips and techniques as to how to handle students that are difficult in their behavior and things of that nature.”
Mrs. Shelliann Mason-Lewis, Guidance Counselor at the GBSS, mentioned one of the counseling techniques used at her school that has proven to be successful.
“At GBSS we started a club called the peer counselors club because we find it effective. Young people tend to follow other young people so if we train a group of young persons who are strong in the areas of resolving conflict and anger management then they would be able to share that with their fellow peers as well,” Mrs. Mason-Lewis said.
While counsellors are mostly successful, there are always instances where a counsellor is not able to get through to the counsellee.
In instances such as these, Mrs. Mason-Lewis said, the counsellor is obligated to report the information shared to the appropriate authorities.