Archive for the 'Counseling and Human Services' Category

Reflecting on Loss

digital_graphics_candle_flame_grief_light_dark_mood-1193516By Sabrina Bartels

This past month, I really struggled with inspiration to write something. Our family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy when my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. My husband’s dad was a proud Marquette graduate; he was happy to be a “Warrior.” He had many great stories about his time at Marquette: Marquette winning the NCAA championship, “camping out” for season tickets, and meeting my mother-in-law, to name a few.

Oftentimes, death makes you reexamine life and get a completely new perspective. You start to re-evaluate many different things and re-prioritize your life. I remember pledging to spend more time with my parents, and enjoying every moment I get with them. Suddenly, things that seemed extremely important were not so crucial. I think everyone in our family walked around in a daze for the week between my father-in-law’s death and his funeral.

Seeing death up-close like this was a major shock. It also provided me with some interesting insight for when I talk to my students about death and grief. Here are some of my take-away points.

What is right for one isn’t right for everyone. The day after the funeral, I went back to work. For me, I definitely needed to get back into that routine. It was comforting for me to wake up early, drive to work, sit in my office, and chat with my students. Not being at work made me disoriented. However, it was a completely different story for my husband. Work was not the distraction that it was for me. When it comes to students, I always tell parents that sometimes, routine is the best thing for a student. But if that routine only causes more stress, we can find a different way to cope.

Grief looks different for everyone. Some people cry. Some do their best to keep busy, while others are more comforted sitting still. Some people choose to block everything out entirely. Some aren’t ready to discuss their feelings; some need another person to just listen to them. It varies. Just because someone in mourning doesn’t react the way you expect them to doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. Grief can come out in all sorts of different ways, whether it’s crying in the halls or behavior issues in the classroom.

It takes time. Really, it does. Remember that the student you are speaking with has just had their world completely shaken up. Things will not be the same ever again for them. Some of my students bounce back quickly once they are back in school, but there are also those who struggle. My husband describes it as this “fog” that is always present in his mind. Sometimes, he can rise above it, but some days, he’s just in a daze. There’s no set time limit on long you can – and will – grieve. Give everyone the time and space he or she needs.

Questioning isn’t always a good thing. I used to ask my students how they were feeling, what was going through their mind, but after going through this whole process, I’m rethinking my approach. When my husband, his siblings, and all the spouses went with my mother-in-law to the funeral home, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of questions we were asked. They asked about flowers, a casket, the obituary, if we wanted a luncheon after, what we wanted for the luncheon, etc. They needed everything right that day. I never realized how exhausting questions can be after you’ve lost someone. I think going forward, I’ll ask if there is anything they want to share. I’ll do more listening than questioning. I think it’ll work out.

It’s okay to lean on people. So many times, people think they need to be “strong” when someone dies. I see my students doing that too. They don’t want to be sad or upset because their family members “need them to be strong.” It’s really tough to do that! I tell them that it’s okay if they are sad because someone died. I encourage them to talk to their families and friends if they are sad and need some cheering up. No one can be strong 100% of the time, and that is why we have family and friends to support us.


Getting to Know Laura Bolger

bolger-3The College of Education is excited to continue allowing students to better know its faculty and staff. Ms. Laura Bolger is the Director of Development for the College of Ed. Read on to learn more about Laura!

Tell us about yourself!

I am the Director of Development for the College of Education and the Graduate School. I am also a proud alum of MU’s Grad School as a student in the Master’s level Community Counseling program. I am a “Fur Mom” and a crazy auntie to three nephews and two nieces!

So where did you grow up and how long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I grew up in Crystal Lake, IL, where I lived in the same home for 22 years. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I moved to Milwaukee to start my graduate program at Marquette University. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a Milwaukeean for 12 years!

It sounds like you’ve had many years in school! What is your favorite educational experience?

I miss naptime as a kindergartener… those were the days.

Naptimes were the best! What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

As a student, I loved the Jesuit mission of Marquette University, which was especially apparent in the Counseling program  I would say the same is true as an alumna returned to work at MU.

We’re glad Marquette was a good fit for you! What do you do when you are outside of the office?

I’m a volunteer at the Wisconsin Humane Society -Animal care volunteer- as a cat/dog walker and helper for special events. I am an Alumnae Advisor for my sorority- Alpha Omicron Pi, a beginning knitter, and a fur mom to 3 cats and a miniature dachshund.

That’s amazing! Tell us more about what these mean to you!

I love volunteering, it’s the best!

So you have any advice for readers who are interested in your hobbies?

Find your passion and go for it. Adopt, don’t shop, for your pets.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

Getting to Know Dr. Sarah Knox

sarah_knoxThe College of Education is excited to continue allowing students to better know its faculty and staff. Dr. Sarah Knox is a professor for our Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology (CECP) program. Read on to learn more about Dr. Knox!

Tell us about yourself!

I am a Professor in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department of the College of Education, having been at Marquette since 1999. Born and raised in central Ohio, I enjoy the Midwest (though the winters can be a bit of a drag), and am an avid Ohio State fan . . . GO BUCKEYES! I did my undergraduate work in Secondary English Education at the University of Virginia, and taught high school English in Howard County, MD, for 11 years. While teaching, I completed a Master’s in Liberal Arts at Johns Hopkins, and later completed both a master’s and doctoral degree in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland. My mother and brother live in Ohio, and I am mom to a two-year-old furry feline.

Wow, sounds like you’ve had many educational experiences! What was your favorite?

As a student, my favorite experience was in my doctoral program. For the first time in my academic career, I felt that the program wanted, and was deeply invested in, me as a student . . . I was not just a social security number or an anonymous face in a lecture hall. The smaller classes, and my cohort of 8, really provided a nurturing and supportive learning environment, and I was extremely fortunate to work with an amazing advisor.

So what drew you to Marquette and the COED?

I was excited about the opportunity to contribute to a department that was undergoing very promising transitions. I could have gone to other institutions where I would have plugged myself into a very solid existing system, but I was intrigued by the opportunity to contribute to the development and evolution of our programs.

I’m glad you were able to find ways to contribute to our department! What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

I am excited to see how the next several years unfold for our department. Lots of growth is on the horizon, and I am eager to see how these developments enable us to serve our students and the communities with which they interact even better.

We’ve gotten to know quite a bit about Dr. Knox, the professor. What do you do when you are outside of the classroom?

I am quite involved in both choral music and exercise. Music-wise, I sing with two groups (an Episcopal choir; a small group of women who specialize in early music), and each brings connection and joy. As for exercise, I run and bike as often as I can, occasionally hike and swim, and am indeed grateful that my health allows me to do so.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

Getting to Know Dr. Jennifer Cook

Version 2The College of Education is excited to continue allowing students to better know its faculty and staff. Dr. Jennifer Cook is an Assistant Professor as well as the Coordinator of Practicum/Internship Placements for our Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology (CECP) program. Read on to learn more about Dr. Cook!

Tell us about yourself!

I am a fourth year assistant professor in the department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, and I teach exclusively in our master’s program. I am a licensed professional counselor in Wisconsin and Colorado, a National Certified Counselor, and an Approved Clinical Supervisor. I earned my PhD in counselor education from Virginia Tech in 2014, and I began my position at Marquette a few months later. My research interests include culture and diversity, particularly social class and socioeconomic status, and counselor training and preparation.

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I was born and raised in Florida, and I spent the first half of my life there. After I finished undergrad, I moved to Colorado for my first master’s degree, and I spent the majority of my adult life there. I’ve lived other great places, too: New York, Ohio, and Virginia, not to mention Milwaukee. I moved to Milwaukee just about four years ago when I began my position at Marquette.

You’ve been to so many places! Do you have a favorite educational experience?

Wow, that’s hard to answer because I’ve had so many, both as a student as an educator. If I were to choose just one time point as a student, my counseling master’s program at University of Colorado Denver in particular offered me so many rewarding experiences. My professors introduced me to research and teaching, allowed me to develop my clinical skills, encouraged me unceasingly, and fostered my creativity in a myriad of ways. Truly, I wouldn’t be in the role I’m in today if it weren’t for the peers, professors, and experiences I had there. Nowadays, I love watching my students learn and grow. Sometimes I get to see it instantly when a light bulb pops on or when a student masters a skill for the first time. Other times, I notice it over time, when I reflect on a students’ progress throughout the program or hear them reflect on their changes and growth.

It sounds like you’ve had many enjoyable experiences at Marquette! What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

I think it’s almost always an exciting time in our department because we are not the kind of folks who let “grass grow under our feet,” but this year is particularly exciting. We are growing our program and adding a new specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling. This addition will allow us to reach even more underserved populations in our area and train even more counselors. With the addition of this specialization, our faculty will grow with our expanding student population, which means even more vitality for our program and community.

So what drew you to Marquette and the COED?

Marquette, and COED and CECP more specifically, offered me what I was looking for in my career—a commitment to high quality research and teaching with a focus on social justice, advocacy, and providing high quality training. Further, I feel incredibly supported by my colleagues throughout our program and college, making Marquette a sustainable career choice for me.

You do a lot here at the College of Ed! What do you do when you are outside of the office and classroom?

Currently, I’m pre-tenure so that doesn’t leave a lot of leisure time. I travel as much as I can—locally, nationally, and internationally. I love to engage with new places, cultures, food, landscapes—really, anything I’ve never experienced before. Plus, I’m determined to visit all 50 states (I have seven left!) and to visit as many countries as I can, so I get excited when I’m able to add a new place to the list! I’m an avid reader, and I like to read anything in actual print because I spend far too much time on screens. I cook regularly, enjoy crafty things that don’t require too much skill, and being outdoors. I love to be near the water, especially the ocean, and I treasure times when I can take long walks near the water.

Whoa, those sound like amazing experiences! Tell us more about what they mean to you!

My downtime is important to me. It allows me to reboot and focus so I can feel grounded in my life, but particularly in my work.

Who is the inspiration for your passion?

Overall, I think I’m driven by my deeply held belief that counselors have the capacity to change the world. I truly believe counselors have the skills, knowledge, drive, and passion to help people communicate, to give folks space to heal deep wounds, to bridge divides, and to create positive social change. Because I believe this so wholeheartedly, it drives all aspects of my work: how I teach, what I research, and in what service I participate. Work really isn’t work when you believe what you’re doing makes a contribution, however small, to making a better life for others.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

#ArmMeWith: A Counselor’s Requests

pexels-photo-460087By Sabrina Bartels

Following the tragic shooting in Parkland, there has been a lot of discussion revolving around gun control laws. And among that discussion is the thought that maybe, just maybe, teachers should be armed. It has caused an uproar around the country, and educators have taken to social media to express their concerns on this topic.

One particular movement that has caught my eye is the hashtag #ArmMeWith. People have held up signs saying “Arm Me With …” and then inserting what it is they feel they need to have in their school buildings. The requests have varied from smaller class sizes, books and pencils, and more school counselors and school psychologists to help students with their social/emotional and mental health concerns.

I was really proud to see school counselors and psychologists on many of these signs. Ever since I joined the profession, I’ve really come to understand just how important it is for students to be aware of their own mental health. A lot of students come to school every morning with a lot of emotional baggage: absent parents, struggling siblings, financial issues, and housing problems to name a few. This means that students are trying to comprehend some very adult problems in the world, even though they are only 12, 13, or 14 years of age. And while they are struggling to understand how and why their lives and families are the way they are, they lose sight of why they come to school in the first place: to get an education. By having school counselors and psychologists in the building, students are able to have someone to process through their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which then gives them the “brain space” to learn.

But I know that school counselors and psychologists are not the only solution to helping students stay safe and enjoying school. There are so many things that I can think of to “arm” myself with, or things that I hope for every educator. For me, personally, here is my list of both physical and abstract things:

#ArmMeWith resources to ensure that students’ essentials are covered. Just recently, I had a conversation with one of my students who told me that every day she comes to school, she is guaranteed two meals. The weekends are harder; she doesn’t always know how many meals, if any, she will get. The term “resources” also applies to school supplies. There are several students at my school who cannot afford school supplies. When bills need to be paid, and a child needs a new winter jacket because he or she has outgrown their current one, it’s hard to find money to pay for pens, pencils, binders, and notebooks. At my school, we added a community closet, which has been incredibly helpful with our students and families. I wish more schools had this option.

#ArmMeWith patience when working with my students, because sometimes I forget what is important when you are in middle school.

#ArmMeWith compassion. I can never have too much of it. Sometimes, it’s the love for my students that keeps me invested in my job, even on the really difficult days.

#ArmMeWith the right words to talk to my students. Some days, it’s really hard to explain why they need to deal with so much in life. A lot of times, I am at a loss for what to say. It’s hard to reassure them that everything will be okay when they feel as though everyone – and everything – is against them.

#ArmMeWith perseverance to ensure that I never give up on one of my students.

And lastly …

#ArmMeWith love. Some of my toughest students – the kids who scream, swear, and act out all the time – are the students who need the most love. There are students who come to school just to have that meaningful connection with an adult. If there is one thing that all of us as educators need, it is an abundance of love to give and share.


Being Confident as a Counselor

school-1413366_640By Sabrina Bartels

One of the best things I did when I became a counselor is join the Facebook group called “Caught in the Middle School Counselors.” It’s a group of middle school counselors from around the nation who use the page to ask advice, celebrate triumphs, and support each other through tough times. People post ideas for bulletin boards, classroom lessons, and any trends that they have noticed.

Recently, one of the counselors asked, “How long did it take for you to feel really confident in your position?” And I had to laugh a little. The truth is, I have been doing this for five years now, and there are still days where I feel like I’m fresh out of grad school and meeting with my very first student ever. My confidence varies day by day, student by student, and definitely situation by situation.

As I scrolled the comments, I was relieved that there were others who were in the same boat as me. Some of the counselors responded that they were in their 15th or 16th year of counseling, and still occasionally felt like they weren’t completely confident in what they were doing! It comforted me that even seasoned veterans at counseling still experience doubts sometimes.

My confidence was especially shaky this last week. I spent the last half of my week feeling like I was drowning. I would create a to-do list, and due to various emergencies, would only get through maybe two items on my list. I was constantly busy, but felt like I wasn’t actually getting anything done. I would even stay late to finish up paperwork, but would still go home feeling frustrated with myself. (I blame the super blood blue moon, or whatever that epic lunar experience was on Wednesday.) I kept thinking that somehow, people more experienced than me would have a better handle on things, or at least be able to accomplish more on their to-do list.

One night, I told one of my coworkers that I felt like I just couldn’t keep my head above water. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, and was mad at myself for not doing more and being more. And he gave me great advice. He told me to go home, relax, and remember that I had made a difference to all the students I met with. I hadn’t looked at it like that before. I had been so caught up in thinking about the students that I hadn’t gotten to meet with, that I completely forgot about all the students I did meet with throughout the day. It made me feel better, knowing that even though it was a tough week, I had been there for my students when they needed me.

I remember thinking when I was in grad school that I would have so much confidence after my first few years on the job. And while I do in some ways (I no longer bat an eye when a teacher asks me to have a hygiene talk with a student) I am definitely still learning and slowly gaining confidence in my skills. Being a counselor is a process. It is definitely not a career where you can just wake up and be “better.” It does take time, and patience, and love both for the students you care for and for yourself. But as tough as it is, I have to say that every challenge, struggle, and long night is worth it.

Supervisors and Supervisees: Advice from an Alumna

We caught up with CECP alum, Jaimie Hauch, to see how her career post-Marquette has been going!

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your title, brief job description, academic background?


I wear many hats at my current job. I am an individual provider (certified to work with both the mental health and substance abuse population), oversee our Intensive Outpatient Program, supervise interns, and engage in some administrative duties. I enjoy wearing many hats because no day is ever the same! I received my bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Business Management from Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. Then I came to Marquette where I received my master’s in Community Counseling.


How did your time at Marquette prepare you for your career? Were your expectations on target based on your experiences?

My time at Marquette provided me with a solid foundation to build my practice and career on.

How does your experience as a supervisor differ from your time as a supervisee? Does it affect your interactions with other co-workers?

It is very different being on the supervisor side vs. supervisee side, but I enjoy it. I feel my time as a supervisee has helped me grow into the supervisor that I am. I took away things that I enjoyed from my experiences as a supervisee and changed the things that I did not find helpful or found frustrating as a supervisee. For me personally, my role as a supervisor does not impact my interactions with my co-workers and I am grateful for that as I know it can be a difficult area for people. I have been blessed with a great team at West Grove Clinic and they all support me as a supervisor, which is great! I love knowing that if I need assistance, am having a hard day, or want to share accomplishments as a supervisor, I have co-workers that I can turn to for support.

What is your favorite Marquette memory?

My absolute favorite memory is getting to see Sara Bareilles in concert at Marquette.

What recommendations do you have for students and/or professionals supervising students?

For supervisors to remember their own experiences and to incorporate what they liked and to change what they didn’t like about their supervision experience. Additionally, to give constructive feedback – so share areas for the supervisee to improve on, but also high light their accomplishments. When the supervisee only hears poor feedback, I believe it reflects in their work. For supervisees – utilize the supervision time you are given and to come prepared to learn and have questions. To a certain extent, you get to make your supervision experience what you want it to be. So, if you are not actively engaged in your supervision, you likely are going to walk away from the supervision experience feeling a lack of fulfillment.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology program by visiting us online!

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