Through evidence-based practice and strategies, as a school counseling intern, I sought to encourage Carlos, a thirteen-year-old boy with ADHD, behavior, and academic challenges to make better choices. Approaches implemented included a reality therapy foundation with solution-focused brief therapy interventions to help Carlos recognize that he can be in control and accept responsibility for his actions. Through the modalities of choice theory, reality therapy, and solution-focused brief therapy, I hoped to empower Carlos as he moved into the last semester of eighth grade and transitioned into his freshman year.
My first impression of Carlos was that he was so likeable and seemingly “normal” that I worried I had inadvertently pulled the wrong student for counseling. It soon became apparent however that this was my student and with three suspensions for behaviors such as bullying, using profanity, and theft Carlos was running out of options and was in danger of expulsion. I had been asked by my principal and interning supervisor to work with Carlos and was determined to do whatever I could to help him turn things around. Due to the fact that I did not know Carlos personally, we spent considerable time during the first session just chatting about general topics and getting more comfortable with talking about his concerns. Even with all the documentation, I felt I had few preconceptions, a factor that worked in our favor as the relationship developed based upon my perceptions of Carlos as a person and his level of safety and trust.
As a school-counseling intern, I have grown tremendously through this experience of developing a relationship with and counseling Carlos. My personal challenges included my extensive background as a teacher, knowledge that has both complemented and occasionally interfered with my learning in internship. Counseling requires specific skills and attitudes and since I am still teaching, I continually work to improve my ability to shift gears during the course of the school day. I have found it helpful to have a short transition time so that I can mentally adjust and either slow my mental pace down or speed it up for the counselor or teacher role.
An important element in evidence-based practice, similarly to teaching, is a strong alliance between student and therapist (or student and teacher). I have been intentionally present for and congruent with Carlos which for me has meant actively listening and engaging him in our conversation. Within this framework, I chose to be energetic in my tone to draw Carlos out as well to compete for his attention given all the other salient events within the school. While it took a few sessions before I sensed Carlos truly believed I had his best interests at heart, I think he now trusts the relationship to the extent that he seems freer to divulge issues troubling him. The process of building a bridge between therapist and client has given me insight into the idea that change...