School Counselors and Silver Bullets
Earlier this week, I had the awesome opprotunity to keynote for the Wisconsin School Counselors Association. It. Was. Awesome! How could it not be? A gathering of over 1000 professionals, all with the heart to help our next generations!
In addition to the keynote, there was also a breakout session where the school counselors and I could have a more intimate discussion. A few counselors relayed tales of tragedy and loss from their own schools. One in particular told a story of three students from her school who all played hockey. While heading for practice one day, they were involved in a horrific motor vehicle accident. One of the three hockey players was killed.
A counselor posed a question to me, asking how she could help the surviving students, specifically the two who were also in the wreck.
A.D.D. story: Something you should know about school counselors: each has a Master’s Degree in their specific field of counseling. I.E., the folks in my audience are far, far more equipped to know the ins and outs of grief and recovering from traumatic events. Sure, I have my experiences, but those are not necessarily applicable to every student in every situation. There are certainly some common elements that survivors who then thrive have utilized to get through their own adverse situations. I did. Most survivors I know have, too. What, then, can I offer from my experiences that may help these counselors help their students? I’m not sure there is a silver bullet that will all make it better. Scratch that. There is no magic cure.
However, the way we help all our fellow human beings is at the heart of the I’m Here Movement:
That is, we start with human presence. We actively listen and observe our fellow human beings to learn how we can help. It may not feel as though we can help. After all, there is nothing any counselor (nor other human being) can do to erase the horrors and trauma these students (and teachers and staff and community) are going through. So, we come back to what is the best thing we can do for one another: simply be present. We make ourselves available, we put down our phones, we look up from the screen, we take a breath and we intentionally become as present as possible. Then, as the old Quaker proverb states, we proceed as the way opens.