A qualitative study of the proactive use of traditional counselling methods: the perceptions of teachers in education
Freeze, Trevi B.
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Adolescents and young adults face several developmental, social, and personal challenges as they grow towards adulthood. Common challenges such as: (a) conflicts within their families, (b) problems in their friendships and intimate relationships, (c) threats to their health, fitness, and body image, and (d) difficulties arising from their peer group social stratification, are generally addressed after damage or stress has already occurred. These challenges can introduce varying degrees of difficulty and stress into the lives of adolescents and young adults. While traditional reactive counselling methods are helpful in responding to challenges that emerge in the lives of young adolescents, it may be valuable to employ counselling methods proactively and non-therapeutically in order to equip students in junior high schools with the tools they will need to navigate common challenges before they occur. This study aimed to explore the thoughts and perceptions of teachers towards such a proactive approach to counselling with junior high school students. The findings indicated that there is a place for the proactive non-therapeutic use of traditional strategies in schools. While teachers may feel more comfortable with the content of “typical” adolescent challenges, they are less comfortable coaching students through the emotional and behavioural outcomes that occur as a result of these challenges. Educators may feel a need for more process related strategies to support students (e.g., managing unpleasant emotions, problem-solving, goal setting, etc.) in meeting goals and challenges however, one must also ensure that the context (e.g., peer relationships, family, health, etc.) is taken into consideration as well. In addition, proactive strategies and opportunities for social-emotional learning need to take place within a larger context rather than behind closed doors. In addition, the challenges experienced by today’s youth may be complicated by the technological world and the overall cultural climate of contemporary Western Canada (Ahn, 2011; Lai & Gwung, 2013; Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008). Furthermore, with dual earner families being the majority in Canada, the home environment is impacted and the quantity and quality of time is diminished, which in turn affects the academic and social-emotional development and health of today’s youth (Wada et al., 2014; Dilworth, 2004). It may be that this phenomenon puts educators in a position where they are required to fill multiple roles and balance social-emotional education of children with their academic growth and development.