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Needs Assessment Resources

My main goal when I started decorating my office was to be a place where students felt comfortable and engaged. I wanted to hang motivational quotes and posters around the room to help the students think positive thoughts. I also like using visuals in counseling, so I bought some dry erase boards. I use these with students to discuss their goals, positives and negatives about a situation, and visuals to discuss other issues. I also have stress balls to help students feel less tense when they are worked up, a box of tissues to help them get their emotions out, and candy, because everyone loves candy!! 

Who is your Support system?
This is a nice visual to use when students are struggling with relationships. This visual reminds students who they can turn to when they are in times of need. I also ask the students who might not be in their circle during this difficult time. 

Time Management Table

This table gives students a visual of the tasks they have to complete. You can alter this table with your students-short term (daily, weekly) or long term (monthly, yearly). This visual will help the student categorize the importance and urgency of each task. 

Helping a Student with Organization

I have worked with many students on developing good organizational skills. Being organized is a key component for success in school and in life. By working with the student and showing the different strategies will help them become more organized. The first strategy I use with the students is creating a "to do" list of homework in their binder. That way when the student checks off their assignments they will feel a sense of accomplishment. Another strategy I use with the students is to prioritize. It is important to order the assignments in which they should be done, so the student does not become overwhelmed. Setting up a schedule is also very important. Often times homework is always put aside and then you fall behind. By having a set time to complete your homework allows the student to manage their time wisely. 

Using Post-It Notes
In counseling often times a student is referred to you by a teacher or a parent. When you meet with the student they may seem reluctant to talk about how he/she is feeling. A good strategy to use when this happens is to show the student a list of different feelings and emotions. After reading through the list of feelings I then ask the student to write any of the emotions they are feeling on the post-it notes. After the student makes the list I then ask the student to decide which feeling he/she wants to talk about first. After the student explains why they are feeling that way, they write on the post-it note a brief sentence on why they are feeling that way. After going through all of the emotions, this allows us to prioritize the feelings and work on the one that is affecting the student the most. 

Using a Protective Shield 
When dealing with a student who has a low self-esteem because of what other people say I often introduce him/her to the protective shield. I have the student talk about the positive qualities they have so when someone says something negative about them they can use their protective shield. By talking about the protective shield and thinking positive thoughts in our session allows the student to use this strategy in real life situations and will allow the negative thoughts of others to not affect the way you feel about him/herself. 

Journal
Often times I ask a student I am working with to journal. In one of the sessions we make a journal using computer paper, and we discuss the types of things he/she should discuss depending on their issues. This is a good resource to use throughout counseling because it is a great way to reflect on the student progress.

Magic Wand
I often use the magic wand questions when working with students: "What if a magic wand was waved over you tonight as you sleep and this problem is gone, what would be different about you in the morning?" By asking a student this question they are able to reflect on what their goal really is and then we are able to work towards that goal.

Goal Charts
During my internship I worked with different issues such as not completing homework, getting off task, being disrespectful, etc. I would work with the student weekly dealing with the behavior, but would also work with the teacher to set up some type of reward for the student. It is important to give the student positive praise when they are trying to work through the issue they are dealing with. By working with the student he/she would pick a reward that they would really enjoy. Some students picked extra time with a certain teacher, being a helper, reading to a classroom, and/or computer time. At first you set a obtainable goal so the student feels successful. Then, as the student keeps reaching their reward you can try weekly or monthly depending on the circumstance. I have found the goal charts to be very successful and it allows the students to work towards a reward. 

Self-Esteem
When working with a student who has low self-esteem I ask them to tell me five things that they like about himself/herself. I have the student write those five things inside the body. Then I ask the student to write five things they dislike about himself/herself, and write them outside of the body. That way we have a visual that we can work on weekly. This also makes it easier to pinpoint one area of the student's dislikes/likes, and concentrate on one each week. 

Family Changes
Many changes can happen in a family throughout the child's life: divorce, death, step-families, new baby, etc. There are many situations that can be hard on the children as well. I am able to work through the child's issues by working with them in various ways- letter writing, working through the changes and learning how to express their emotions are a few ways that I can help. 

Jenga
Jenga can be used in many different sessions. You can have each student ask a question as they pull out a block. Or you can write a question on each block. For example, if you have a self-esteem group, you can write:

  • Tell the person to your left what your favorite thing about them is.
  • What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  • What are you best at?
  • What is the person to your right best at?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you value in a friendship?

Broken Heart
Some of the topics I use this with is divorce, death and broken relationships. I first tell the student that he/she has a broken heart because of the situation they are dealing with. Although we can't change what happened our goal is for you to not have a broken heart. I ask the student to rip the heart into six pieces and then write reasons why they are upset on each piece. I then ask the student to tape the pieces back together and explain the heart. This activity works great because it allows us to pick a broken piece to concentrate on each week. 

Play-doh
This activity works well when dealing with issues that the student can't control. I give the student a container of play-doh and ask them to create anything they want for one minute. After that minute is up, I then ask the student to change what they just made into something else. Then I hand that student a rock and ask them to create something with the rock. After they realize they can't, I tell them that some things in life we can control situations, some times in life we can change situations, and some times in life we can't control situations. But, we do have the power to change and control our emotions. This works really well when working with students about controlling anger, bullying, or problems they are dealing with at home. 

Balloons
Balloons can be used in many ways. Balloons can be used to make stress balls to help students calm down. Balloons can also be used to work through the death of a loved one by having a balloon release. We spend time talking about their feelings, the stages of grief and the memories of the loved one. On the last session, I allow the student to write a letter and attach it to the balloon to release it. This also gives a closure to the sessions.