Growing up isn’t always easy. Life is increasingly complex and fast-paced, and our children often need support to help them adjust to life’s changes and challenges.
Between the ages of 5 and 11, the most common difficulties that students encounter include:
- attachment issues (e.g., separation anxiety);
- grief and loss issues;
- adjustment to change (e.g., a new school or parental separation and divorce);
- peer issues and social anxiety;
- behavioural challenges; and
- difficulties with organization, planning, and managing stress.
A counsellor is available at the Junior School on a part-time basis to promote healthy, positive adjustment and resilience for students as they navigate school and family life in their early years. We focus on maximizing students' success in all areas of life by building coping mechanisms, developing character, promoting overall wellness, and equipping them with the skills and strategies to manage their emotions effectively.
Working closely as part of a team with other Junior School teachers, the counsellor’s role is to support, nurture and enhance the social-emotional growth and development of students, working with them individually and in small groups. The counsellor also visits classrooms to hold discussions on topics such as managing emotions, healthy relationships, decision-making, self-discipline or sexual health.
Usually student needs are identified by teachers, in which case parents are consulted, and counselling proceeds with parental involvement and consent. When necessary, we can make referrals to professionals in the community.
SMUS school counsellors provide confidential counselling to our students – individually or in small groups. The primary focus of our counsellors is to help our students develop skills and strategies to deal effectively with life challenges that can sometimes interfere with their success. Counselling staff work with students on issues such as life balance, well-being, conflict resolution, and stress management.
When a situation demands it, counsellors will extend the counselling process to include faculty, boarding parents, medical staff and parents. If more extensive therapeutic intervention is required, our counsellors will make referrals to certified professionals in the community.
At the Middle School, our counsellor plays an important role in our students' lives and provides invaluable support for their growth and learning. The counsellor:
- provides individual and group support for students in order to enhance their growth, development, social and emotional skills;
- works with teachers to help students learn specific skills such as communication, problem-solving and building friendships; and
- is available to provide educational opportunities and support for parents.
The Middle School counsellor is available during most school hours. Students can set up an appointment if they have anything they’d like to discuss in a private setting.
Many factors can affect students’ well-being and their ability to keep up with their academic responsibilities. Our counsellors offer students the support and resources necessary for them to achieve academic, personal, and social well-being.
The Senior School and boarding community each have their own dedicated counsellors. Our main objective is to ensure our students have every opportunity to be successful in school. Counselling is confidential unless we believe the student is at risk. Our counsellors will also work with parents, but as students get older and more independent, they become our primary focus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the procedure for a student or parent interested in counselling?
Students can visit their counsellor anytime. Parents are also welcome to make an appointment with a counsellor to discuss their children. Teachers, support staff, medical staff, the chaplain or administrators may also refer students to the counselling office.
Can students attend counselling sessions within their timetable?
For students in Senior School, appointment times for counselling do not conflict with classes and responsibilities unless there is an urgent need for the student. For example, the counsellor will see students in their spares, during lunch break, after school, or, if necessary, during non-academic class time.
How often can students receive counselling?
Frequency of appointments depends on the need of the student, as well as their obligations and time commitments. A student with a high need may pop in to see a counsellor almost daily until they are feeling better and some students will see a counsellor once a week throughout the year. Others may pop in to see a counsellor once or twice and then not need a visit again in their whole time at SMUS.
Is counselling ever mandatory?
At the Senior School, counselling is not usually mandatory. However, if a student's mental health or decision-making interferes with their school performance (academic, personal, or social), an administrator may ask the student to see either the school counsellor or a registered clinical counsellor or psychologist off campus. The main objective is for the students to get the support needed to enable them to meet with success at school (for example, help building self-confidence or making good decisions). Recommendations are made with that in mind.