Practicing Counseling Skills in Real Time

A blog post from SOLES MA in School Counseling Ambassador, Paige Iglesia:
I think one of the most valuable aspects of a SOLES education is being able to put the skills you learn into real world use. In our first semester of the School Counseling program, we have three classes: Skills, Ethics, and Theories. Each of these classes made me think about who I am and what I want in drastically different ways.
In Skills, we had to record three counseling sessions that we did with another student in class. The first time was horrible. It’s so incredibly awkward to hear and see yourself! But it is truly helpful. You get to see your little tics, you watch your body language, you get feedback from other students and your professor on what you could have said or things you did well. Then, second semester you get placed at a practicum site with 4-5 other School Counseling students based on your preferences. I am with a group of people who want to do most of their work at an elementary school, so this semester we are at O’Farrell High School, a charter school in Southeast San Diego.
Being at practicum has been an incredible experience. I really get to practice the skills I picked up last semester in real time with real students. I think one of the most valuable experiences at practicum is understanding more about myself as a counselor and what works best for me. We have to record our sessions again this semester and each week, my professor observes me in a live counseling session. These experiences have been so beneficial as I continue to learn about the counseling profession and myself as a counselor. We also do guidance lessons where we create curriculum and give the lessons to a variety of classes based off of what the school needs. As much as I love my students, I have to say that being in a small group with a few members of my cohort has been so fun and such a great learning experience! We get to watch each other grow and support each other as we all learn together.
Overall, I would say that practicum has been my favorite part of the School Counseling program so far! It has been challenging at times, but I would not change any of it. I am excited to continue practicing my skills and learning more at my field work site next year!

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