Professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Julia Green Bryan. (GP)

A former Guidance Counsellor at The Lodge School in Barbados, now professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Julia Green Bryan, is thrilled that the complement of guidance counsellors here has been increased.

Speaking prior to the start of a workshop being conducted with this grouping at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Dr. Bryan said: “Guidance counsellors play an integral role in schools. I am delighted they have added more counsellors in the school and I’m hoping today as I share about building partnerships that they will have a vision of how they could work together to accomplish even more.

Pointing out that counsellors encounter a lot of challenges, she noted that a model developed by her and Manager of College Success Programs, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, Dr. Lynette Henry, which will be presented at the two-day workshop, should aid Barbadian counsellors in figuring out ways in which they could be “more creative in meeting the needs of students”.

Dr. Bryan acknowledged that guidance counselling in the United States was different because the concept had been around longer and the growing pains that Barbados was now going through had already been overcome there.  

Adding that the American School Counsellors Association had developed a national model for counselling, she remarked: “That’s something I dream of for school counsellors in Barbados. That eventually there would be a model that guidance counsellors can really use, so that they are all working together in unison to address the needs, and they would be even more effective in addressing the multiple complex needs that students and parents come with every day.

“I think the role is so important and I’m hoping that more and more resources would be put into counselling in Barbados because the mental health needs, the academic needs, the college and career needs of students are just growing.”

Reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US-based professor said it had shown up the extent of challenges children all over were encountering.

“It has shown us just how many challenges kids and families have and even more so how important mental health in school is – not just academic counselling to help kids do better – that’s very important; not just college and career readiness, also very important, but also addressing the mental health needs of our children. And, I think more and more we are recognising we have to figure out a way that there can be enough counsellors, so they can effectively meet more and more of these needs.

“One or two counsellors alone can’t do it all.  That is why as a counsellor [back then] in Barbados I used partnerships and that’s how I serve kids from everywhere. I realised I needed to connect with psychologists and counsellors, nurses, PAREDOS and all kinds of organisations and child welfare services to meet the needs of students. There is so much that you have to do for kids and I think that counsellors in Barbados are also crying out for their own model … a culturally appropriate model rather than one borrowed from the [United] States or England,” Dr. Green Bryan said.

The workshop, which ends tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6, is entitled Building School-Family-Community Partnerships: Maximising your School Counselling Services and ImpactIt is being conducted by the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors.

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