National School Counseling Week highlights work of counselors, provides them support

MARYLAND, – This week marks National School Counseling Week, highlighting the impact counselors have on students’ success and providing them tools to build a future.

“It’s a week for the school to appreciate the school counselors but it’s also a week for the school counselors to appreciate their schools and the difference we’re making each day,” Somerset Intermediate School Counselor Erica Hensley said.

“You have children who could use the extra support and services of someone in mental health or behavioral health and that helps them do better in school if they have all the things they need to be successful,” CEO of Easter Shore Psychological Service’s  Dr. Kathy Seifert said.

According to the American School Counseling Association, counselors spend at least 80% of their time working directly or indirectly with students.

Local Child Psychologist Dr. Kathy Seifert wants to remind Delmarva school counselors that as they assess others, they can’t forget to assess themselves.

“This can be a very rewarding job but sometimes difficult job because you see a lot of tragedy and sadness,” Dr. Seifert said. “So it’s important for us to remember to take care of ourselves also because if we’re healthy then we’re more able to help someone else who may need a little extra support.”

Somerset County School officials say that support for counselors comes in the form of training and letting counselors know that they aren’t alone. “We want them to know that it’s ok to do your self-care, be aware of how you’re feeling, and how that impacts what we do every day for others,” Director of Students Services Tracey Cottman said.

Erica Hensley is now in her fourth year of counseling. As the pandemic isn’t making the job any easier, she says seeing the impact she has on students, whether big or small, makes it all worth it.

“We can’t always swoop in and fix their problem, but we can sit with them through their problem and just be there with them while they’re dealing with whatever concern or issue they might be dealing with,” Hensley said. “I think it’s just those little moments and the small victories that really add up. They justify that I’m doing what I feel like I was meant to do.”

All week, Somerset County Public Schools is showering their counselors with gifts from the central office along with certificates of appreciation. I’m told no words or gifts can match what they do on a daily basis.

Somerset County Public Schools says trainings such as the Employee Assistance Programs help support staff when needed.  School officials also say the need for mental health and counseling services has spiked due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: Education, Local News, Maryland