School Counseling by Heart

 School Counseling by Heart is an expression of my gratitude for all the school counselors who make such a difference in the lives of their students, colleagues, and communities every day, and for the spirit of generosity that exists within our profession. Here I offer you some of my techniques, lessons, materials, insights, experiences, humor, and struggles. I hope they will give you some inspiration, some support, some nods of recognition, and some smiles.

What things do we choose to learn by heart? A lovely old poem, a favorite song, a particular phrase from a treasured love letter – things that draw us in, that  help us define who we are, that resonate in our heads and allow us to make meaning in our lives. For some of us, school counseling is one of these things.

To learn something by heart doesn’t come easily – you have to read or listen to it many times, recite it over and over to yourself, squeeze your eyes shut, say a few lines, stumble, peek quickly at the text, then finish in a rush of relief. And that may be just the first stanza or verse. Only after a lot of hard work and repetition do you have the flow, and the sense of accomplishment that comes when something that was once so challenging becomes a little bit more like second nature.

This does not mean the process becomes automatic.  Having memorized the words is only the beginning – of looking deeper, of finding greater meaning, of discovering something new. Sometimes you come up short, freeze, and find that you have forgotten a bit, so you go back, start from the beginning, and let the rhythm guide you, the rhyme scheme or melody cue you.

Experience helps, but regardless of how long you have been a school counselor, no matter how many lessons, techniques, and tools you have to draw upon, the work remains challenging, exciting, sometimes frustrating, and often life-changing.

School counseling involves “heart” in all its meanings — courage, strength, commitment, center, and the pulse that nourishes our students and our schools.  And love. Love for the kids with whom we work, love for the work that is sometimes so hard, love for ourselves,  and for each other.  Thank you, school counselors, for all you do, every day, for your students, coworkers, and communities.  And thank you for all you give back to me and the rest of our school counseling colleagues all over the world.  You are the heart.

♥ Rebecca Lallier

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