Archive for the 'Counseling and Human Services' Category

Behind Every Military Weapon System Should be Someone Advocating for Her/Him

This post originally appeared on Dr. Darnell Durrah’s blog. About the author: Dr. Darnell A. Durrah Jr, is a licensed counseling psychologist current serving the men and women of the US Army. At the end of the day, he is most proud of just being a kid from Compton!

US_Navy_030513-N-5576W-002_Antwone_Fisher_speaks_to_Sailors_gathered_in_Naval_Station_Great_Lakes'_Ross_AuditoriumBehind every weapon used to protect the innocent is a woman/man that took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….

We might not agree with every political decision, but they (we) took an oath!

One of my favorite Denzel Washington movies is Antwone Fisher.

Prior to becoming a licensed counseling psychologist, I was a master level therapist. I’ve always used the phrase “whowillcryforthelittleboy

Now, I’ve always taken that as who will advocate for those that can’t or don’t know how to advocate for themselves

As an Army psychologist I will be here to ensure Soldiers are advocated for.

I’ll advocate for evidenced based treatment. I’ll advocate for transparency in treatment as it applies to military regulation. I will advocate to ensure ready resilient resources are provided in a timely manner. I’ll advocate for the privacy of your protected health information

I’ll also inform you that psychological treatment is a sign of strength, courage, and hope! I’ll let you know that if your symptoms (not you as a person) meet criteria for a diagnosis, I’ll explain that with compassion, care, and concern. I will also let you know that treatment works. I’ll let you know the new normal is possible

Lastly, those that are concerned about PTSD, I’ll discuss with you all about PTSG #PostTraumaticGrowth.

Dr. Darnell Durrah graduated in 2014 with a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the College of Education

Cell Phone Chaos: How Social Media Has Changed Middle School

iphone-410311_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was becoming a pro at participating in both Debate and Forensics meets. Our team would meet at our high school early in the morning, get on a school bus, and then head out to a different school to compete. During this time, many of my fellow speakers acquired cell phones, since our meets rarely ended on time, and gathering all of us on the bus was quite an adventure. I, however, did not get a cell phone. When asked by my Debate coach why I didn’t have a phone, I cheekily responded, “it’s because I’m Amish.”

Fast forward a few weeks to parent-teacher conferences. My Debate coach – who was also my Politics teacher – sat down and met with my mom. As they were talking, my Debate coach commented, “You don’t look like what I expected.”

My mom was used to this. She laughed and said, “Because I’m Caucasian and my daughter is Asian? It’s because she’s adopted.”

My Debate coach laughed too and said, “No, because Sabrina told me she was Amish! I was expecting you to come in a bonnet and a buggy.”

My mom was mortified. And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it took a LONG time before I got a cell phone after that stunt.

It’s funny to think back to that instant and to a time that I did not have a cell phone constantly on me. It’s even scarier to think of how cell phones, and other methods of communication, have evolved over my lifetime. When I was six, I remember my dad had a pager so that we could reach him at work in case of an emergency. That was pretty high-tech! It wasn’t until I was in high school that more people started carrying pagers and cell phones. And by the time I started college, almost everyone had a flip phone. By the time I graduated four years later, iPhones were the new trend. It was startling to see that people could check their emails or Facebook from their phones, or take amazing pictures without the aid of a digital camera.

When I think back to those times, I become more and more appreciative of the fact that my parents held off on getting me a cell phone as long as they did. Working in a middle school, I see how easily it is for people to get consumed by their phones and social media. A lot of my students are constantly on their social media, whether that’s texting, tweeting, Snapchatting, or taking pictures for Instagram. And to be fair, it’s not just teenagers (I must admit that I’m scrolling through Facebook while I write this post.)

There was this fascinating article written by a teacher named Benjamin Conlon called “Middle School Misfortunes Then and Now, One Teacher’s Take.” In it, Conlon details how social media and cell phones have completely revolutionized the whole middle school experience. It’s fascinating to read his example of what an embarrassing middle school incident was like in 2008, versus 2018. What was once a one-time incident that could easily be forgotten can now be turned into a meme or another viral video.

We often say that teens have it much easier than we did back in the day, and in some respects, it’s true. Technology has made information more accessible. But in the same respect, it’s a double-edged sword. Technology has made it harder for students to leave the stress of school at school. When I had a fight with friends at school, it started and ended at school. The only way we could contact each other was calling each other on a landline phone. Now, students can text or Snapchat each other, post rude messages on Facebook, or spread hateful comments on Instagram. They feel invincible, hidden behind their computer or cell phone screens.

How can you help your middle schooler through their social media struggles? Here are my suggestions:

  1. It’s really okay to wait for a phone. To be fair, I am not a parent. I know a lot of parents have told me that they gave their middle schooler a cell phone because they walk home. That makes sense. However, that doesn’t mean they “need” a smartphone. A flip phone or a prepaid phone that allows your student to call or text someone in an emergency is just fine, gets the job done, and causes a lot less drama in the process.
  2. Talk about password privacy. The amount of middle school drama caused by students sharing each other’s passwords and then posting things “for” their friends is ridiculous. Teach your student that passwords are absolutely private. Only family members should be able to go on your social media.
  3. Check your student’s social media. I had a parent this past year who religiously checked their child’s Facebook and had his email linked to her phone so that she could track what her son was writing to others. Some people thought that was a complete invasion of privacy. This mom saw it as her son thought twice before he sent or posted anything he didn’t want her to see. This also allowed her to see what others posted, and who his friends were on Facebook.
  4. Set specific rules up. Some parents have rules that their student only gets their phone from 4-7 pm at night, and it must charge downstairs overnight. I really do think this is helpful. The number of students who have confessed to me that they stay up all night watching YouTube videos or texting is pretty high.
  5. Practice what you preach. I am just as guilty of this, but I usually do try to make a conscious effort to put my phone away when I’m with my family and friends. This is especially true when my nieces and nephew come over. I don’t want them to think that they can get away with sitting on their phones the whole time because “Aunt Sabrina gets to.” This also promotes time for kids to get to know their parents and family members more. That interaction is super important!

Also, remind your students that you have been there, you’ve lived it, and – better yet – you survived! That in itself can be more reassuring than anything.

Getting to Know Our Students: Leslie Alton

This year, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Leslie, one of our current graduate students!

IMG_1990My name is Leslie Alton, and I am a second year in the Masters of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Barrington, went to undergrad at Ohio Wesleyan University, and then made my way to Milwaukee. I moved to Milwaukee in the summer of 2017, and its charm has been growing on me ever since. My favorite educational experience is the internship that I have been able to do as a part of the program. My placement is at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the Counseling Services working with the students on myriad issues/concerns. I love using what I learn in the classroom and applying it to my work at internship, as well as growing into the skills and feeling more confident as a counselor.

With graduation in May, I am excited to enter the workforce and start my career as a counselor. I was drawn to Marquette because of the people I met. While a lot of schools have good programs to offer, the people I came across during the interview process and faculty I spoke to are what set apart Marquette from other programs. When I am not busy with everything school wise, one of my favorite hobbies is rollerblading, and I would suggest that anyone who is interested in rollerblading prioritizes learning how to stop! The inspiration that I have for the field of counseling stems from all of the internships that I have had since the beginning of college. At each internship I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of people who have the drive and passion to make a difference in the lives of others, and I hope to do the same!

 

The Importance of Counselors

counselor-1294858_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

Last week, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion focused on youth mental health. The event was a collaboration between several organizations, including Marquette Law School, Marquette’s College of Education, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Individuals from across the country and from many different walks of life joined together to talk about the mental health crisis and what we can do to help support children and teens as they navigate these difficult struggles.

Of all the panels, I really liked the one where teens talked about overcoming and living with mental health concerns. One of the girls was a middle school student. When describing her middle school experience, she mentioned that she sometimes goes to her school counselor, but that it’s hard to see her because she’s so busy. The student said that her counselor’s door is closed a lot because she’s with other students, or “in a six-hour meeting.” It made me crack up (because it’s true, we have a lot of meetings!) but it also made me a little sad. Here was a student who really needed to see someone, but her counselor wasn’t available.

Which made me think of my own students. I’ve been lucky this year to have a slightly smaller 8th grade class, but I’m still as busy as ever. I thought about all the sign-up sheets on my desk, and how sometimes, it takes me one or two days to follow up with these students. Not because I don’t want to talk to them, but because every day can be filled with chaos and crises, and I am never guaranteed enough time. I think about students who like to check in with me, but whom I can’t always consistently meet with on the same day, or even the same time. As one of my kiddos put it, “You just never know what’s going to come through your door next, do you, Ms. B?” And for the record, he’s absolutely right.

I am so incredibly blessed to work in a district that recognizes the importance of counselors, psychologists, and social workers, and why we are so necessary. I’m also really fortunate that my administration recognizes the work we do. They’ve excused us from lunch duty and hallways sweeps. They limit the number of students who test with us. I’m lucky; I can’t say that enough. But I recognize that not every counselor is in my situation. At my school, the student to counselor ratio (on average) is about 310 to 1. In the state of Wisconsin, it’s around 454 to 1. And the ideal ratio? 250 to 1.

Why is this important? Because the more “stretched” we become, the less effective we are, and most importantly, the less time we have for kids. That means students who are struggling with bullying, mental health issues, academics, or trauma may not see us when their need is highest. This also means that we lose a window of opportunity to get to know the student on a deeper level. For some, it’s okay; the student will keep reaching out to us and we will have that chance. But for some who may already be nervous or scared to reach out, if they can’t have us at that precise moment the window closes and may not open up again.

Are we bound to miss students sometimes? Yes, of course. Sometimes, we have another student in our offices, and we have to tell the other one we will talk to them later. That’s part of our job. But the more counselors, psychologists, social workers, and outside agencies that are available, the less time they have to wait, the quicker we can address the problem, and the sooner students can return to class with a less-burdened mind. With their mind at ease, students have more brain power for school, which can help them achieve their full academic potential.

We’ve heard that these things we teach and model – emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and organization – are “soft skills.” These so-called “soft skills” are not that soft. These are skills that are so important to a student’s every day functioning as an adult. Their social/emotional success is just as critical to their learning as reading and math. That is what we are trained in. That is why we’re needed.

The event really sparked my enthusiasm, and continued to stress the importance of mental health professionals. But it was the youth panel that reminded me of why I do what I do, why I advocate for counselors, and why it’s an important job. The most inspiring thing is that these students haven’t given up. Neither should we.

Getting to Know Heather Wolfgram

Heather Wolfgram joined Marquette University and the College of Education as a Director of Development in November of 2018. With several years of exerience in development on behalf of nonprofit organizations, Heather is ready to to advance the mission of both the college and the university. Read on to get to know Heather, and check out the rest of our series getting to know faculty, staff, and students!

IMG_9016 I’m originally from Big Bend, WI, and I’ve been back in Milwaukee for five years. My family is BIG and very close. All of my extended family still gets together for every holiday. My immediate family gets together almost every Sunday for dinner. Kids and dogs are welcome.

I have my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota. I absolutely loved the experience. I learned so much and had the opportunity to build what I think is a really broad skillset. As a social worker I’m drawn to community organizers like Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama. Grassroots community organizing can be incredibly impactful. I’ve always been passionate about higher education and life-long learning. Marquette offered me an opportunity to make education accessible (through donor-funded scholarships) to those who might not have thought it was possible. I also really admire the Jesuit commitment to service and giving back to the community. As I move into my new role, I’m excited about partnering with Dean Henk to build the College of Education Leadership Council.

When not at work, I’m an avid cyclist. I love the combination of being outside, being social, and contributing to my health. When I moved back to Milwaukee, I joined a female cycling club called the Bella Donnas/Cadence. These are some of the most supportive, compassionate, and welcoming women I have ever met. Many of them have become close friends and will likely lead to life-long friendships. I would encourage any women who are cyclists or interested in becoming cyclists to ride with Cadence this spring/summer.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Marquette family and I look forward to learning everything I can about the College of Education.

The College of Education provides outstanding academic programs, generates nationally recognized research, and engages in significant community outreach. With the assistance of those who believe deeply in the importance of schooling and mental health across the spectrum, we can be more impactful in all of these social justice pursuits. To contribute to scholarships or community outreach endeavors, contact Heather Wolfgram today! 

 

Celebrating 10 Years and Giving Back

IMG_1505By Hannah Jablonowski

Marquette University’s College of Education is collecting warm winter clothes for Penfield Montessori Academy (PMA), a local elementary school, in celebration of the tenth anniversary since we became a college. Marquette and the College of Education have a strong connection with PMA. Located close to Marquette’s campus, current students and alumni work within the school, and the College of Education could not think of a better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than to help out!

The weather in the Midwest has been at a record low, and it is necessary for everyone to be warm. PMA is in need of winter clothes for their students. As part of a Jesuit community that embraces helping those in need, the College of Education started a winter clothing drive to collect materials needed to help keep these students warm and safe. The drive is continuing through February 15th, but items that were already donated were delivered this week due to the recent cold temperatures. With multiple coats, hats, scarves, and gloves already donated, Marquette’s College of Education is excited to see what other items will be donated and how we can continue to be the difference within our community.

If you are willing and able to help out but cannot make it to campus to drop off any donations, please view Penfield Montessori’s Amazon Wishlist for items you can buy and have automatically shipped to the school!

 

The Importance of Mental health: A Letter From One Marquette Student to Another

counselorBy Sabrina Bartels

Earlier this month, the Journal Sentinel published this article on Markus Howard. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  After reading it, I felt compelled to write a little note to him.

Dear Markus,

To start with a cliché: you don’t know me, but I know a little bit about you. I am an avid Marquette fan, having graduated from Marquette with my undergrad degree in 2011 and my Master’s in School Counseling in 2013. I have watched games where all the odds have been stacked against us, and seen you help lead the team to victory. Earlier this month, you helped elevate the team over Creighton, scoring a historic 53 points and whipping Marquette nation into an absolute frenzy.

And because of your skill, my 8th graders have started taking notice. They talk about how great you are and how much they want to be like you. They talk about going to Marquette someday and playing in the Fiserv Forum. I’ve had kids try to imitate your three-point shot so they can use it during their own games. They talk about someday beating your free throw point average.

You are an absolute hero to them because of what you do on the court. For me, you are a hero for what happens after the game has ended.

You may not know it, but I’m hoping my students are watching you because of the way you portray yourself. You make sure to stay humble. (I just saw an interview you gave after the Creighton game, and when asked about how you are so effective at what you do, your response was “I play on a great team.” Nothing about how you scored about half the points Marquette made that night.) You give back to the fans. You volunteer and work hard. You are a great leader on the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball Oversight Committee. But most importantly, you’ve gone public on the importance of mental health in athletes.

As a counselor, mental health is my daily job, but it’s often hard to put it into perspective with my 13- and 14-year-old students. My kiddos come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and all of them come in with a different perspective on counseling. Some students love having me at school, so they can talk about their problems. Some just think I’m a friendly person to have around. But then there are some who view counseling as weak. They don’t want to ask for help, for fear of how that makes them look. And these are the kids that I struggle connecting with the most. It’s almost like we have little boundaries up that are hard to overcome.

The fact that you talked about seeing a psychologist as “just another practice” has really opened up the door to a lot of my students. Suddenly, talking to a mental health professional is not taboo. It’s not weird; it’s not only for people they think are “crazy.” It’s for everyone who needs someone to talk to. And my hope is that my students start to embody that mentality, that counseling is something that can help everyone, regardless of age, race, orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.

You’ve also opened the door to talking about mental health openly. A lot of my students think that mental health – good or bad – is a very private thing, or something that could never happen to them (“I’m a good student, so I can’t have anxiety”). And while it is in some respects private, talking about how mental health has affected you or someone you know can open doorways to others sharing their own personal experience, which all helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

It was also important for my students to hear why spending time with people you love is important. Some of my students are going through a phase where it isn’t cool to spend time with family, or people in general who love them. In an age where isolation is all too common, having someone whom they look up to emphasize the importance of connection is all the more special.

So thank you. Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to inspire others. Best of luck the rest of this season.

We are Marquette!
Sincerely,

A grateful school counselor


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