As a American-trained Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I have been amazed by the lack of concern over adolescent mental health here in Ireland. I am sure this blog post will have its detractors, but I tend to say what needs saying.
I would love to see Ireland put its money where its mouth is and invest in the nation’s youth. Mental well being needs to be a priority! While children and teens in America are able to see their School Counsellor during the school day, if needed, Irish teens are not afforded this opportunity. School Counsellors in America are trained in child and adolescent psychology and are typically not teachers. I, myself, was an educator for nearly a decade. I was a classroom teacher of French and Spanish to students aged 12-18. I then pursued my Masters Degree (Level 9 Qualification) in Counselling and achieved a high score on the licensing exam of the National Board for Certified Counsellors.
Although I did take a course in career counselling, that was only a portion of my rigorous training. School Counsellors help students with life transitions, depression, anxiety, stress, and crises (as well as selecting classes and dealing with difficult exams and getting good grades). School Counsellors in America are highly trained. In the past 20 years, achieving N.C.C. status (National Certified Counsellor) via the licensing exam signifies top level training. Older School Counsellors were not required to sit for this exam. Today’s changing society has likely spawned the need for more in-depth counsellor training, particularly when working with teens.
I have a few specialties in my counselling practice and one of them is counselling teens. While others may shy away from working with adolescents, I love it and can relate well to this period of sturm und drang. Having worked with teens for over 20 years, in a school setting, and more recently with teens in crisis at SOSAD, I feel well able to assist adolescents through this intense period of growth and change.
As a conduit and an agent for change, I emphasize the need to “try something different” when previous strategies are no longer working for a client. As you know, doing something over and over again, expecting a different result, is the very definition of insanity. So I endeavor to be fully present with my younger clients, to hear their stories, and to help them effect positive change in their lives.
Working with minors does entail a small amount of family therapy, at times. I help younger clients claim what power they do have over their own lives and see that as they get older, more rights and responsibilities come along. A team effort is vital and I am happy to report mostly positive outcomes for my clients: children, teens and adults!