Aha Moments from ASCA15

School, this year, ended for me on June 26th. However, I was up bright and early on the morning of June 27th excited to be heading for Phoenix and the American School Counseling Association’s National Conference: Spice Up Your School Counseling Program #ASCA15.


This was the first time in my eleven years of school counselling that I attended a conference specifically targeted for Professional School Counsellors. In addition I was excited to meet-up, for the first time face to face, with many of the amazing members of my PLN. People who I had gotten to know online over the last two years through my ePD including #SCin30, #sccrowd and #scchat.


ASCA15, was very moving for me. It was a time to connect with others who could understand my passion for youth and my commitment to instilling hope. While many sessions were very good, I experienced  a few “AHA” moments throughout the conference which will positively influence my counselling programs in the future. I would love to share these treasures with you too.

AHA 1 Stealth Mental Health – Be wherever you’re needed


During the Red Cross Training: Foundations of Disaster Mental Health workshop, there was a fantastic co-presenter (I’m sorry I don’t remember her name) who had a fabulous sense of humour. She was a social worker with over 30 years of experience in supporting crisis situations. She reminded us that the most important thing to do when encouraging resiliency, is to read your audience and create an environment where they can feel safe and secure. Language matters: if play therapy sounds threatening, create a “playroom“. Call people survivors and not victims.  She also reminded us that sometimes supporting mental health can be as simple as providing tissues and water.

AHA 2-  It takes a team to build a dream. 

Fredi Lajvardi, is one of the teachers who inspired the movie Spare Parts. His school’s robotics team was also documented in Wired Magazine.


Lajvardi’s inspirational speech encouraged all of us to embrace diversity and  create meaningful relationships because you never know where the next great student will come from. He explained that every student on his team from the special education student to the academically gifted was able to contribute. His special education students were able to provided NEW ideas and outside of the box thinking, which the more academic students were then able to put into practice. This created an innovative working team which was able to achieve more than was ever thought possible.

AHA 3 – Making an Impact with group counselling.

11707811_10153262392990845_4447882916601759042_n Ed Jacobds and I at the session

Ed Jacobs and Christine Schimmel provided an amazing afternoon on Impact Therapy. The primary message being that groups should be directed with a purpose.

Ed and Christine believe that the brain remembers novelty and therefore props can be useful tools in a counselling session. Some of my favorite demos included:

Pop = cloudy thinking Water= clear thinking; even if you are shaken clear thinkers don’t explode

The Bill Part 1 Hold up a bill – how much is this worth? Scrunch it up step on it it’s still worth the same amount – you’re worth it.

The Bill Part 2

Hold a bill folded thin…, is it worth more if its thinner? Hmmm Impacted image used from financialpostcom

Aha 4-  Wii can be a powerful tool in a counsellors office

My previous experience had taught me that sometimes the best conversations with kids don’t happen when we are sitting directly across from each other, but while we are engaged in other activities. Christina Welch’s session provided many examples of how to incorporate video games as school counselling tools.

Some of the suggestions I might try myself include:

Mii development on the Wii How is it like you? How is it different? Use your Mii to practice making friends

Create a bookcraft– Minecraft work based on books

Minecraft build your dream university

Aha 5 – Inclusion does not just benefit students with special needs: It benefits all students

Learning through inclusive communities.

Dr Tim Shriver is not just the embassador for Special Olympics, but he also focuses on the role of Social Intelligence through his book Fully Alive.  His anecdotes were inspirational and he topped it off by teaching us a WE ARE ABLE dance performed by the Unified Sports Team from Kellis High School.

As I move forward in my journey as a school counsellor I will continue to watch for more AHA moments. I love learning from others, so feel free to share you’re own AHA’s with me too.

Take care.

Mrs. L

To the Girl Who Cries At Night

This is so true and meaningful for me too. enjoy

To the girl who cries at night,

You may not want to hear my words.   You may not want me to care.  You may think that we adults, we teachers, have no idea what you are going through.  You may think that the world is coming apart, that all of those people you thought you could trust, who cared about you, turned out to be frauds.  You write your poetry, telling your teachers that it is not personal, you speak to us of friends that are having a hard time. You reach out, but you shield yourself in every possible way.  Just so we don’t catch on to the fact that it is not your friends that are hurting, it is you.

And I get it.  Right now, life seems like it is too much and there is no way to dig yourself out.  Like having a concerned teacher will…

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Snowball’s of Advice from Bishop Carroll’s Mental Health Symposium.



On January 7th , 2015, during our Mental Health/ Wellness Symposium students found solutions to real world problems.

Activity: Snowball Advice

You don’t have to look far to get advice. Some of the best advice comes from your peers

  • Please write down on the form provided, a situation which  you or someone you know, may be struggling with right now. (do not add any names).
  • Crumple the form into a snowball and toss it into the center of the room.
  • When instructed by the facilitators reach down and grab one of the snowballs from the floor (making sure that it is not your original form).
  • Read over the situation and provide some healthy advice for how to handle the situation in the first column.
  • When you are done, once again crumple your paper into a snowball and toss it to the center of the room
  • Repeat steps 3-5 two more times.- try not to repeat any ideas or advice that has already been written on the form.
  • At the end of this symposium we will be collecting all of the situations and suggestions and compiling a google document. Please check back on the document at a later date to receive your peer advice.

We’re extremely excited and proud to share their thoughtful, helpful, responses. Please scan the QR code to take a look at the advice  Bishop Carroll students shared.

snowball advice

Kick off to 10 Reasons to Live: Bishop Carroll’s 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium


Where do you go from here?.. Career Exploration with High School Students

One aspect of my job as a high school counsellor is to help my students reflect on what they may want to do after high school. I personally remember feeling very apprehensive as a student about which jobs were out there and how people actually found their careers.

The world is full of possibility. One of the ways that we at Bishop Carroll, have attempted to share these opportunities with our students was by inviting our parents and alumni to an event we called CAREER SPEED DATING.  The event was a success and we are hoping to make it an annual tradition at Bishop Carroll.

Check out the following video create by @Sspellmancann

What do you think about this event?  How do you promote Career Exploration at your own school? All suggestions and ideas are welcome