Nobel Coaching & Tutoring: A Referable, Complementary Resource

As all licensed school counselors are aware, The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) developed an extremely valuable tool called The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (3) that identifies how a school counselor can be most effective in the school. Not only does it define what a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program looks like, it also suggests a suitable student-to-school-counselor ratio, and helps counselors determine appropriate activities and how best to allocate their time.

To briefly depict the “ideal” school counselor scenario: All school counselors will have a ratio of maximum 250 students to each school counselor, will be able to use at least 80% of their time providing direct or indirect services, and will only engage in designated “appropriate” activities.

There is a small percentage of school counselors in the nation who are fortunate enough to work in this ideal scenario, which means they are probably more likely to be able to prove their effectiveness by addressing all of the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student (2) through evidence-based practices. These same school counselors are probably able to engage in professional development activities to ensure they are up to date with the best practices and latest research so they meet all the ASCA School Counselor Competencies (4) on which many school counselors are now being evaluated through state legislation.

Many school counselors are inspired by this scenario that ASCA has laid out so perfectly and will add to their list of responsibilities to advocate more and more for their role, hopefully with some success. Many other school counselors are shrugging their shoulders in despair because they know they will never ever be free of inputting student schedules or planning the administration of state testing or daily supervising students during lunch.  This discouragement is not necessarily because they are not advocating or because their administration doesn’t know they would be more effective without those extra roles or additional students, but because resources are scarce and all their colleagues are also stretched and pulling more weight than they would like as well.

Many educators may be even more worried because resources are likely to be stretched further based upon the decreased funding by the federal government as proposed in the President’s FY 2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Education (5). Regardless of whether the long-term effects are positive or negative, there will be additional fiscal pressure put on schools until states and local communities are able to find ways to replace the money, which will probably be done through property-owning taxpayers. Using property taxes to fund vital, but not necessarily mandated resources, like school counseling services, has been considered unconstitutional by many, since property taxes in many urban or rural communities are much lower than in affluent suburban communities.

School counselors are creative and tenacious, though!  Even when their student-to-counselor ratio is 500 or 650 or 800 or 1200 to 1, they are still making a difference in the lives of so many students. They use their organizational and time-management skills to allocate their services to impact as many students as possible, while being responsive to those students most in need. They discuss options with their administration and colleagues to support students, families, and staff members as comprehensively as possible. They address barriers to learning and work cooperatively with other student services personnel within the school. They notice when more intensive support is needed and refer students and families to outside resources to address potential mental health and/or learning needs.

School counselors are very aware of student needs, but sometimes they are unable to meet them fully, usually through no fault of their own. They literally cannot do all the work that is on their plate in many instances. When the additional responsibilities, i.e. test administration, scheduling, coordinating student study teams, lunch/recess duty, etc., are not going to be lifted from their plates anytime soon, they have to be extra creative. Oddly enough, many school counselors may start hyper-focusing on one main responsibility or on a limited number of students in their caseloads.

As mentioned before, ASCA has identified a fairly comprehensive list of “Inappropriate Activities for School Counselors” that many school counselors use to advocate for their role to administrators, usually with an attempt to stop assisting with discipline or enforcing dress codes or covering lunch duty. However, many school counselors find it difficult to not engage in long-term counseling in schools to address mental health conditions, either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Fortunately, ASCA has also developed the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors (1), where there are many detailed examples of how school counselors can support students while making the most ethical decisions, including an entire section on Appropriate Referrals and Advocacy – A.6.a-e.

ASCA FRAMEWORK EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Inappropriate Activities for School Counselors:

“providing therapy or long-term counseling in schools to address psychological disorders”

ASCA ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS

A.6. Appropriate Referrals and Advocacy
b. Provide a list of resources for outside agencies and resources in their community to student(s) and parents/guardians when students need or request additional support. School counselors provide multiple referral options or the district’s vetted list and are careful not to indicate an endorsement or preference for one counselor or practice. School counselors encourage parents to interview outside professionals to make a personal decision regarding the best source of assistance for their student.

ASCA ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS

c. Connect students with services provided through the local school district and community agencies and remain aware of state laws and local district policies related to students with special needs, including limits to confidentiality and notification to authorities as appropriate.

ASCA ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS

d. Develop a plan for the transitioning of primary counseling services with minimal interruption of services. Students retain the right for the referred services to be done in coordination with the school counselor or to discontinue counseling services with the school counselor while maintaining an appropriate relationship that may include providing other school support services.

Often the school counselor is only trying to help even when they know that the school setting is rarely the best therapeutic location and even when they know they are not licensed and/or hired for this relationship with students. Sometimes the school counselor does not have a trustworthy or local resource to refer students and families too, or the family finds it difficult to follow through with the referral due to busy schedules and inconvenient appointment times. This makes it difficult for school counselors to just watch a student suffer without the support they need.  Refraining from long-term counseling in school is even more difficult when the students’ teachers continue to ask for assistance because the students may be at risk for failure, dropping out, not graduating, decreased chance of college acceptance, or suspension/expulsion from school, due to insufficient executive functioning skills, lack of motivation or confidence, or other issues.

School counselors can and should work with these students by providing organizational tools, developing skills for resilience, engaging in goal-setting, addressing chronic truancy, and working on short-term, solution-focused problem-solving to remove barriers to accessing their education. School counselors cannot and should not meet with every student individually to work on underlying reasons why they are not finding success or optimizing their life weekly for ongoing counseling.

Nobel Coaching & Tutoring is available as a referable resource for those school counselors who know their students need additional support from a trustworthy agency. Nobel Coaching & Tutoring is convenient for those families who are busy and active. Nobel Coaching & Tutoring is accessible globally for any type of community. Nobel Coaching & Tutoring is here to support school counselors in their mission, expand their circle of influence, open the door for students to obtain the extra support they need, and assist parents who want to help their children.  Nobel Coaching & Tutoring is the bridge between school counseling and more traditional therapeutic interventions.

Not only does Nobel Coaching & Tutoring perfectly complement the work of school counselors, Nobel Coaching & Tutoring thinks very similarly to school counselors: They know that social-emotional learning is equally as important as building math, reading, and content skills. The students work with a Coach who is specifically trained to help address issues in motivation and focus. Students are also matched with Tutors who are experts in closing gaps in understanding in all subject areas. Another belief that Nobel Coaching & Tutoring shares with school counselors is that parents and families also need guidance in figuring out how to help their kids, so the Coaches also work with caregivers to ensure the student is really getting the comprehensive support they need. All of the services are offered online through Skype and other virtual applications at the convenience of students and families.

Many school counselors may be hesitant because this resource is new and different. However, most school counselors understand that the culture of social-emotional wellness and assistance is evolving to become more aligned with 21st Century technology and lifestyles. They know one of their main goals is to reduce the stigma of seeking support. Furthermore, most, if not all, school counselors know how much kids enjoy seeing themselves on their screens, too!

If you are a school counselor, school psychologist, school administrator, school teacher, or parent or guardian, Nobel Coaching & Tutoring wants to hear from you. Their goal is to complement what is being done in the school already by supporting students and their families outside of school. School Counselors and Nobel Coaching & Tutoring have similar missions and can become a great collaborative team helping all students achieve success and reach their potential!

by Renee Stack

Citation Sources:

  1. ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors.
  2. ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student.
  3. ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs.
  4. ASCA School Counselor Competencies.
  5. FACT SHEET: President Trump’s FY 2018 Budget. A New Foundation for American Greatness. Prioritizing Students, Empowering Parents.
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Family Night At The Movies – Talking With Your Teen About Inside Out And The Purpose Of Sadness

In our series, Family Night at the Movies, we recommend movies for viewing and later discussion whose message may be helpful for teenagers and their parents.
In one of our previous articles, you can read more about movies as valuable tools in addressing the emotional and social needs of teens.

Our latest choice is Inside Out, the acclaimed Pixar animation movie of 2015 directed by Pete Docter, which deals with the emotions, specifically sadness:

The film is set inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, with the main characters actually being her primary emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, who argue and compete with one another. The conflict between Joy and Sadness forms the basis of the action.

Warning: spoilers!

When her father’s new job requires that the family moved to San Francisco, Riley’s emotions are thrown into turmoil. She has torn away from her familiar, harmonious Midwestern life and forced to adjust to a new environment. In this classically stressful situation, we watch the battle of her emotions as they try to navigate these new challenges in her life.

Taking into account that the complexity of psychological processes is impossible to fully explore in a movie, Inside Out nevertheless effectively illustrates how our emotions work and how they connect to happenings in the outside world and to our cognitive processes.

Various lessons can be taken from this movie, among them that all emotions are equally important and the danger of the imperative to stay positive all the time. We have addressed these in a previous article, Come to the dark side, we have emotions. Here, we address an important third lesson – the purpose of sadness.

Purpose of Sadness – Adaptation of Loss

Emotions are specific reactions to happenings that are important to us and the purpose of each is an adaptation to the change, reconnection with important others, and ultimately the ability to move on with our lives. We are sad when we anticipate or experience the loss of someone or something valuable to us, so the particular purpose of sadness is a psychological adjustment to loss.
At the beginning of the movie, Joy, Riley’s dominant emotion, introduces the other emotions. She explains why each of them is important to Riley and points out that they all work as a team. However, when she comes to Sadness, Joy just skips it, admitting that she doesn’t really understand its purpose. So, in the face of this stressful situation, Joy prevents Sadness from acting and does not allow Riley to be sad, although that is clearly her most natural emotional reaction. She is losing her old way of life and being forced to adjust to a new one. She misses her old house, her friends, her hockey team, and also her father, who is more frequently absent because of his new job. She is struggling to adapt.

When we allow ourselves to experience certain emotions, many processes in both our mind and body work in concert to prepare us for action. The work of sadness differs in that when we are sad we feel listless and to all appearances become passive. Yet our mind is working actively to try to process the loss and reorganize our inner world in order to adapt to the new reality.

Purpose of Sadness – Relief and Connection

Another important function of sadness is its specific bodily expression. When we experience sadness without repression and let it flow freely through our body, we manifest specific facial expressions and body posture and will cry or sob.

Crying is a natural healing process. When we cry we are relieving tension and pain from our body as if the tears were melting the pain and alleviating our sadness. The release is complete with deep crying that involves sobbing since our distress is expressed through our voice and a different pattern of breathing. After a while, breathing is deeper, the body is relieved of tension and we feel much better. Reassure your children of any age; give them permission, let them know it’s okay to cry.

The specific body language associated with sadness has its social dimension, too. It is obvious to others that we are sad and they may show compassion. This is what, in the end, Joy finally recognized and came to understood to be the purpose of Sadness.

When Joy allowed Sadness to act and Riley finally expressed her sadness, her parents hugged and comforted her. In her distress, Riley’s image of “family” had collapsed and almost caused her to run away. Now the family was once again a team, reunited and reconnected.

Danger of Repressing Sadness

Sadness or any other emotion can be repressed when it is perceived as less valuable. “Being sad is for weaklings. I must be strong.” Our system of values is mainly formed through family and wider cultural influences.
Today we are witnessing a global trend which values “positive thinking”; a sort of industry of happiness to keep us smiling, optimistic, shiny and happy, which is not in accordance with our psychological makeup. Under certain circumstances, it is natural to feel fear, sadness, or anger. Every repression, denial, or compulsion to feel differently than we actually feel, leads to imbalance.

This is exactly what we learn in the movie. Since Joy doesn’t understand the purpose of Sadness and is afraid Sadness will spoil Riley’s happy life and infect her joyful memories, she multitasks in order to keep each new experience positive or funny at all costs.

The pressure to stay positive is even stronger when her mother praises Riley for staying so cheerful despite everything, implying that if both of them just keep smiling it will ease the pressure Riley’s father is going through. We’ll see later in the movie the consequences of this attitude. It is a reminder also for us parents to be careful with the messages we’re sending to our kids. You never know what kind of battle is going on in their heads and how they will interpret our words.

“Don’t feel” or “Don’t feel (certain emotion)” are frequent injunctions that repeat in the back of the minds of depressive or anxious clients going to therapy. The authors of Redecision Therapy, Goulding and Goulding, observed that when sadness is repressed, repression of joy and other pleasant emotions follows. As a consequence, a person is unable to emotionally bond with others.

That is why it is important to reassure your child of any age that feeling sad is okay. How do you do that? By understanding, allowing, and encouraging your child to feel and express sadness (and all other emotions), so cleansing can take place and the child can move forward. It is especially important to discuss later what happened and what made her/him so sad.

With teenagers, you can engage in even deeper conversations and we hope that some of the information in this article will help.

Ask your teens what they’ve learned from the movie. Did they ever feel as Riley did? What is the purpose of sadness, in their opinion? Can they identify their dominant emotion and the one they’re tending to neglect? For more about particular questions and how to lead a conversation after the movie, read here.

by Milena Ćuk,
Life Coach and Integrative Art Therapist-in-training

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WHY DO THE ARTS MATTER?

Things children and parents alike can learn from art

Enjoying art for art’s sake is a noble goal we should all aim for, as it unquestionably enriches our lives. But in a world where time spent on art can be viewed as time better spent on something “more useful”, it can’t hurt to remind ourselves what art actually does for us. Most parents and children invest their every waking moment in learning more, on extracurricular activities, and improving their chances of getting into the school they want. Meanwhile, art pursuits often get left behind even though they, too, can promote the skills necessary for academic and life success. This article reminds us of the ways the Arts enhance our learning and enrich our lives.

The Arts make us more creative

It is impossible to overstate the benefits the Arts bring to our creativity and divergent thinking [8]. As we express ourselves through various art forms or observe the art of others, we come to understand that being creative isn’t exclusively confined to the world of art itself. Rather, it enables us to see the larger world through different eyes and teaches us how to be creative and innovative in many fields not necessarily having anything to do with the Arts themselves [3].

Enjoying the Arts “makes us smarter”

Art, like science, is a broad term with many interpretations, but most art can teach us something about aesthetic perception and taste [1]. This isn’t where the magic ends, though. How many times have you heard that you need to read a lot in order to be well spoken or be a good writer? Literature is art and enhances our vocabulary and language skills [4].

However, it is not only literature and reading that can improve our skills and widen our knowledge. When children draw, paint, or play with clay, they are not only creating their own art, but they’re learning about the world and at the same time developing their cognitive skills by going through the oh-so-hard decision process of which color to choose, planning how their drawing will look, tweaking and experimenting. In other words, art gives children a chance to make decisions and learn from them [6].

The Arts teach us how to be human

While nothing can really prepare us for a living except actually living and learning along the way, the Arts offer us an invaluable window into the human experience and can teach us how it is to live on this planet for different people from different places. It also shows us our similarities and differences and helps us empathize with others. For instance, Maya Angelou’s autobiographical “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, though written in 1969 and relates events that happened in the ‘30s and ‘40s, still manages to teach us a great deal about racism and how to overcome it, and gives us a different perspective on coming of age as an African-American girl in the United States back then. Similarly, paintings can show us a lot about how some people live and what is important to them, and also help us understand the way they perceive reality.

This insight into the lives of different people helps with our social skills, but there are other ways the Arts can nurture these skills. Many artistic endeavors, such as different types of dramatic performance or large-format paintings, can be created by groups or with one partner, thus teaching the participants how to be cooperative, helping, and caring and how to share with others [5].

The Arts help us master our emotions and feel better about ourselves.

Expressing and regulating our emotions is essential to our everyday life, but a lot of us experience difficulties with one or both of these. Art is there to help when things are too complicated to verbalize. This is often the case for children, so it is especially beneficial for them to have access to art and to feel free to draw things the way they
want. It can be instructive to give a child a piece of paper when they are upset or unusually quiet since many things can be revealed through their art. There is usually some meaning behind a child exaggerating something in a drawing, not paying attention to something else at all [3] or simply using dark colors.

Art is also used in therapy to help people with a wide range of problems and has been shown to have beneficial effects on emotion regulation [2] and attitude, and in improving self-image [7].

Additionally, specific activities like drama and dance can be great confidence builders [5] and help with stage fright. Just participating in the realm of art teaches us perseverance and focus, as art requires practice and a high level of concentration [9].

Nurturing your child in his/her artistic endeavors and also enjoying participating in the Arts yourself, mindful of their benefits or even just for their own sake, is definitely worth your time. Not only will they enrich your lives, but they will make your child and you better human beings in every way possible.

REFERENCES:

  1. Arslan, A. A. (2014). A Study into the Effects of Art Education on Children at the Socialisation Process. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 4114-4118. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.900
  2. Brown, E. D., & Sax, K. L. (2013). Arts enrichment and preschool emotions for low-income children at risk. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(2), 337-346. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.08.002
  3. Extension (August 31, 2015). Creative Art Helps Children Develop across Many Domains.
  4. Klein, O., Biedinger, N., & Becker, B. (2014). The effect of reading aloud daily—Differential effects of reading to native-born German and Turkish-origin immigrant children. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 38, 43-56. doi:10.1016/j.rssm.2014.06.001
  5. National Endowment for the Arts (2015). The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation.
  6. PennState Extension (February 6, 2014). Art – An opportunity to develop children’s skills.
  7. Schweizer, C., Knorth, E. J., & Spreen, M. (2014). Art therapy with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A review of clinical case descriptions on ‘what works’. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(5), 577-593. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.10.009
  8. Sowden, P. T., Clements, L., Redlich, C., & Lewis, C. (2015). Improvisation facilitates divergent thinking and creativity: Realizing a benefit of primary school arts education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(2), 128-138. doi:10.1037/aca0000018
  9. Strauss, V. (January 22, 2013). Top 10 skills children can learn from the arts.

By Anja Anđelković

ON BEING A NOBEL NOMAD

by Dunja Stojkovic

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anaïs Nin

When I first decided to spend three months traveling through Mexico, I was met with different reactions. Apart from my family being deadly worried about my chosen destination, most of my friends were excited and above all wondered how I could leave my work for three whole months. The nicest thing about it was that I wouldn’t have to.

I am a psychologist working as a Coach for Nobel Coaching & Tutoring. Areas of online professions are constantly expanding and although programming, translation, web design, etc., constitute what you might consider typical freelance jobs, a growing need for an easily accessible professional who can help you deal with many life issues has led to Coaching finding its place in the online work market. The two greatest advantages of working with an online Coach are, as I mentioned, accessibility and reliability. In order to create and maintain a good relationship with a client, which is the basis for success, one of the most important things is always honoring the schedule. This means that you must do your very best to make sure you are there for the session on time and with no external interfering factors such as, for example, a bad internet connection.

Having that in mind, working while traveling is not as simple as it might seem and this is something I learned from experience.

Distant places have always attracted me. There is something very special about submerging oneself in an absolutely foreign culture with a different language, different customs, and traditions, ways of interacting, etc. And Latin America especially attracted my attention. I had been thinking of ways to be able to visit this very special place for a long time and, as it often happens when we sincerely and with all our hearts wish for something, circumstances aligned perfectly to make it possible for me to do so. I had some good friends in Guadalajara and I decided to make it my Mexican home base. I rented a room in a house with four Mexican roommates, having first made sure it had a good internet connection. This is the only plan I made. I knew I wanted to travel the country, but so many places captured my attention that I decided I would just let myself go with the flow. I also decided that I would, for the first time in my life, travel alone. I had been warned many times that Mexico is not the perfect place to pursue such an adventure. However, from the very first moment I set foot in the country, I instinctively felt comfortable and secure by myself.

My path led me to the most magical places I could have imagined. I walked through beautiful canyons in Chihuahua, camped in an indigenous village learning how to make corn tortillas, spent a night in the middle of a desert, stared at the clearest sky my eyes have ever seen, heard stories and met people whom I will never, ever forget.

I must admit that, even though I tried to keep everything under control during this three-month adventure, my work did suffer slightly. Sometimes, places that claimed to have a good internet connection actually didn’t have one. Then there were many occasions when a bus that was supposed to arrive at a certain time arrived two hours later, broke down along the way, etc. From time to time, this would interfere with my sessions, and after a while, I realized some changes had to be made. In my case, this means that the next time I decide to explore distant places, I will stay put during the working week, and move and travel during weekends.

Looking back on the whole experience, my conclusion is that yes, you can definitely work while traveling. However, a bit more attention needs to be paid to logistics. This doesn’t mean that you need to take away all the spontaneity from your journey, but it does mean that you need to take more time and move from one place to the other at a somewhat slower pace, which can actually have its advantages. So, if you have a job that doesn’t constrict you to one place, organize yourself and don’t miss out on the chance to travel. Just be careful. Once you do it, you’ll probably never completely stop.