By Deanna Shilkus
Executive In-Depth Editor
To make students feel more comfortable with themselves and talking to each other, Student Services Counselor Dustin Seemann helps the students in his Divorce Support Group break the ice at the start of each meeting.
Tricks like role play, Q&A, and constructive projects can lead into discussing conflict and help students cope and understand their feelings, according to Seemann. In this Divorce Support Group, issues like self-esteem, anger, aggression, negative thoughts and coping skills are ones that Seemann wants to focus on.
At the beginning of the ’08-’09 school year, Seemann and other counselors distributed a survey to random students to see which support groups they wanted to participate in and which ones they thought needed to be added.
The staff looked to see what the highest needs were and then created those groups.
The counselors found a high need for an Academic Support Group, Stress/Anxiety Group, and Divorce Support Group, and so last year, Seemann decided to start the Divorce Support Group.
The purpose of this group is to give emotional support to students who have or are currently experiencing divorce in their families. Seemann will also teach coping skills to help deal with students’ stress and other problems.
“It gives them an outlet to be able to talk,” Seemann said.
There are two groups currently in session. One group with eight members is from last semester and continues to meet, and this semester, there is a new group of 13. These groups meet once a week, in a group room that remains confidential.
The parents are also notified that their students want or are going to be in this group, and they have to sign a permission slip. Sometimes, according to Seemann, students can also be recommended by teachers and counselors to join the group if they see that the student could be struggling with divorce conflict.
So far, Seemann has found success within the group’s efforts. Based off a survey given before and after meeting, from the time the group started until recently, Seemann found that kids have opened up more and are more willing to talk about their problems.
“There’s more divorce these days,” Seemann said. “This does impact a student’s performance, it weighs on their shoulders, and they aren’t able to get it out.”
He believes that this group is a great opportunity for students to talk to each other, and someone that is struggling with the same situation.
“They are able to talk about their feelings and about what’s bothering them in hopes that we can give them support,” Seemann said.