Small group counseling often gets overlooked especially in the high school setting. Small groups take the most strategic planning of any of our initiatives and involve the most preparation (in my opinion). Oftentimes, we don’t have the capacity to plan new things because we can’t even find time for the non-negotiables that we have to get done today.
I wonder if we paused to think outside of the box. Though it may require some preparation, are we missing an opportunity to serve our students in a unique and intentional way through small group counseling as it relates to career services?
Here are 3 compelling reasons to use small group counseling to promote career readiness in your comprehensive school counseling program.
1- You’re leaving out an entire tier out of your career readiness services as it stands.
When you take time to align your school counseling program’s goals, plans, and calendar for the year with the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, you may start to see gaps in certain areas (whether that’s individual, group, or classroom lessons OR academic, college/career, or social/emotional areas).
Planning a comprehensive school counseling program with intention will put you on the right path to effectively serving your students and maximizing your job satisfaction (because you’ll actually be doing what you were trained to do)!
You’re most likely serving students’ career readiness needs through larger-scale classroom lessons or class meetings. Rightfully so! This is an efficient and proactive way to get information to the most amount of students in your school or on your caseload! It is an extremely effective way to communicate with the farthest reach for your students.
You may be having many individual conversations focused on career pathways and career readiness as well. Here is where you may start to notice many of the same concerns, mistakes, and failures between students. Many of our conversations with students in high school are centered around their goals and the direction of their future. The results of these conversations can steer you back to that large
Once you notice a handful of students who need to go deeper in their career exploration and career research, it might be time to start referring students for some small group counseling focused on career readiness. Keep a list of students who you think could benefit from or be a good fit with a small group. The right student for this group has the motivation and drive but lacks direction or maybe even purpose in their future.
2- You’re not running enough small groups in general.
… or you’re not running them at all. Maybe this seems like an odd reason to argue in FAVOR of running small groups in the high school setting, but read on for an explanation.
I’m all about adaptability and flexibility. Why not try something new to shake things up? Of course, you’ll want to do a pre and post-test with your group to measure its effectiveness and not just run something haphazardly. (You could use this School Counseling Small Group Data Spreadsheet with any small group you plan to run or are already running to quickly, easily, and concisely summarize and share your results data and perception data.)
If incorporating a full small group is intimidating to you, why not start with a small career activity? Use one with students individually or in a classroom setting (regular size class or smaller size class… like a special education class) to get the hang of how a career activity could go with a group of students. You could try something like the Job Interview Flipbook and have students pair up and do “mock interviews” with each other.
3- Running small groups can be an intentional and fun change of pace for your career readiness school counseling services.
Once students are bought into what you’re doing, small groups can be SO much fun while also being extremely effective. You already know some of the benefits of running a small group like an increased sense of belonging at the school and an increased self-efficacy and personal intrinsic value.
Add in a deeper dive towards personal and professional growth, and students will be so excited about their new journey of self-discovery in relation to future/potential careers. A small group focused on career readiness has the potential to be extremely formative for a student as they start to discover their passions and direction for their life after high school.
Running small groups can be very much intimidating if you’re not used to setting them up or facilitating them. If you’re looking for some low prep sessions (7 of them!) that are already planned out for you, consider this Career Exploration High School Counseling Small Group focused on topics like career exploration and soft skills. When you use this small group curriculum, you’ll confidently incorporate small groups into your programming without any added stress.
If you’re considering making space on your calendar for the potential payout of a larger impact on students’ lives, then small group counseling focused on career exploration and career readiness is one tangible option to consider. The relationships you’ll form with students will be priceless, and the self-awareness students will develop for themselves will be extremely rewarding to see!