March into Wellness: Teachers Need Guidance Counselors Too

“This student doesn’t need xyz; they genuinely need counseling and therapy.” 

How many times in our work as educators have we thought or shared out loud something along these lines. It is often both an extension of empathy to the students we serve and a recognition of our own limitations as a professional. Sometimes, the guidance students need must come from someone better trained, more experienced, and fully licensed.

This seems obvious to us when we reflect on our students, but what about ourselves? Why do we often struggle to admit when we could use guidance, counseling, and therapy?

Teaching is a difficult job and teachers often believe the path to becoming a “better teacher” is a path that is unlocked if they just work a little harder, if they stay a few more hours, or try a different subject, or earn a different degree. I’ve learned from experience that often the path forward is unlocked by taking a step back, by asking for help, by evaluating and utilizing your capacity well.

I’ve learned that in all areas of my life, I need guidance counselors. Some of those counselors have been in my life forever, like my mom; others are more recent friends with children slightly older than my own who assure me my best is good enough; some are former supervisors–educators I still admire and respect; and yes, some are clinical professionals that help me along the past to be my healthiest and most productive self.

There are some counselors I’ve had to let go, like the therapist whose office I found myself in during my first year of teaching that was confused about why I was so burnt out from work if “school ends at 3pm”. It was clear that he did not understand my reality or the context of my job and my being there was a waste of both of our time. 

I want to use this brief blast intro today, the last one in our March Wellness Series, to encourage you to ask for help and seek out guidance, from you peers, from our staff, and from professionals. I have drafted a list of mental health professionals and resources across the state of Arkansas that I hope you save to use as a resource and guide that can help you continue the practice of wellness through the end of the school year. 

With appreciation for all you do on behalf of your full staff,