Technology and social media have taken a great leap in the counseling world. Now you can receive therapy through text and video chat, track your mental health through apps and participate in group sessions online.
Just as data and machine learning have been proven effective for school counseling, apps and online tools can help facilitate better student care.
Because technology plays such a big role in our students' lives — academically, socially and emotionally — these types of resources can be really helpful for school counselors, allowing them to connect on a deeper level and better communicate.
Here are four effective ways school counselors can use tech to amplify their counseling:
1. Online Group Sessions Connect Students Safely
Group sessions are a cornerstone of therapy. Putting them online doesn't have to take away from the physical group — it can be a great tool to augment face-to-face meetings.
Along with sharing thoughts and feelings in person, students can share online through the use of multimedia projects, perhaps a different one every week. Some fantastic projects include a weekly visual journal, mind maps for discussion and message boards where any kind of multimedia can be posted. These platforms allow students to be creative and show how they feel in a safe online space, rather than just speak about it in a group.
2. Counseling Apps Facilitate Self-Care
Feeling down in the dumps? There's an app for that. No really, there are some incredible mental health apps designed to help people monitor their emotional states and triggers, cope with stress and receive support whenever needed.
In fact, 69 percent of U.S. smartphone users reported interest in using a mobile app to track their mental health conditions. Children love apps, making them excellent tools for school counseling.
Breathe2Relax helps students take deep breaths with relaxing music and backgrounds they can choose. Scribble Press allows students to create digital stories to express themselves. And Touch and Learn Emotions helps children match feelings to pictures, allowing them to become more in touch with their own emotions.
3. Blogs and Social Media Help Bridge School and Home
Communication is a major part of counseling. With the internet, it's never been easier.
Every school counselor should have a website or blog where they can share information with parents, along with helpful videos and articles. A Facebook group is another easy way to communicate, and Pinterest has a wealth of counseling resources when you need some fresh ideas.
Social media is also great for connecting with other professionals in the counseling field, and, with the appropriate setup, an interesting way to start important conversations with students through monthly or weekly hashtags.
4. Data Collection Provides Valuable Feedback
In counseling, it's absolutely necessary to keep track of behavior and progress for student success. Technology makes it so we don't have to go rummaging through file cabinets for student information, and it also does most of the work for us.
Tablets allow counselors to store information and take notes during counseling sessions and when visiting classrooms, so they can access the data whenever they need it.
Surveys are great for data collection. For example, counselors can create their own surveys using Google Forms and export the data to a spreadsheet. They can send a survey at the beginning, middle and end of the year to assess students’ needs and keep track of their progress throughout the school year.
Collecting data also allows for tangible measurements of how the counseling program is working and what changes may or may not be necessary.