Hi my moosey friends, I need some help.
It looks like I may have found a job, assuming everything goes through correctly. If it does, I will be an independent contract counselor working for a counseling agency. Sounds like something someone who just finished a counseling program should be able to handle, right?
All of the time I’ve spent studying the field of psychology, I’ve planned to work with adults – ideally in a hospital setting. I have studied adults almost exclusively, and all of my internship experience was done in a clinic which took no one under the age of 19.
But the woman who hired me plans to place me primarily at an elementary school working as a counselor/behavior specialist with “problem” children for grades PK-5. I am passingly familiar with the school – and its reputation. A friend of mine tutors students there after classes, and he says it is very troubled – that a lot of the kids are difficult to teach and control. The families who send their children there are mostly low income, as evidenced by data I found on the school which indicated that over 90% of the students are eligible for free lunches. My boss says there is a total caseload at the school of 52. The school only has about 250 students, meaning that an unusually large percentage of the kids are considered problematic.
I will be expected to design treatment plans for each child in my caseload. Much of the emphasis will be on behavior modification, not just personal counseling for the kids. I will be expected to produce some results. My boss wants to start me with a weekly caseload of 40 – that is well more than a 40 hour work week, of course. If I can’t squeeze all of my kids in during school hours, I will have to go into their homes. All of that aside, though, I love the thought of being able to truly help some of these kids – to make a difference in their lives at a young enough age that it could save them some grief as they get older.
Here is the extent of my experience with children: I babysat a little as a kid, I worked with children with disabilities for 2-3 years doing hippotherapy when I was in high school, and I tested about 5-10 elementary-aged children for a class last Fall (IQ tests). Oh, and not so many years ago, I was a kid myself.
Some of you may be horrified that someone hired me to do this not-exactly-easy job when I have no experience whatsoever. My boss IS aware of my lack of experience, and insists I will be extensively trained. She thinks I am smart enough and flexible enough to learn quickly and precisely and succeed. Training starts next week, but I will be expected to start going into homes to do counseling on my own as of June 13 – not yet sure what age I’ll be working with initially.
I have also been contacted through a tutoring service by a woman who wants me to tutor her 6-year-old son in reading. I have tutored my kid brother, but I have never worked with a child so young. I have not really interacted with a 6-year-old since… I was six.
To you parents, teachers, tutors, and the young at heart…