“I Learned to Be Brave”
Maya came to the SCH Counseling Center in first grade. She was a smart, sweet young girl, but she was so anxious about talking in front of anyone else, she communicated with her peers and her teacher only through nonverbal actions. Unfortunately, traditional counseling methods seemed to have little effect, and as Maya entered second grade, she had not made much progress. She still wasn’t verbally communicating with anyone at school, which made it difficult for her to succeed academically or make friends. So, her counselor came up with a new and innovative plan of action to help Maya meet her goals.
Maya’s counselor began meeting with her at school so she could practice talking in the environment that was scariest for her. Together, they set a new goal each week that was slightly more difficult than the week before. One week, Maya’s goal may have been to talk to one new classmate. The next week, she may have been asked to play with someone new at recess. Next, she may have been asked to say two words out loud to the teacher, who she feared talking to the most. To further support Maya, her counselor spent a few sessions sitting in the back of class with her so that she could get more comfortable talking in her fear-induced setting. She also encouraged Maya’s teacher to challenge Maya in a positive way to meet her goals.
Slowly, Maya’s bravery began to increase, and she started whispering to a few peers in her class. A few weeks later, she was reaching her goals to talk loudly. Eventually, she was able to talk to everyone in her classroom, even her teacher. Maya’s counselor could see the confidence gradually rising within her. By the time she graduated from Counseling Center services, this little girl was talking to most everyone she came into contact with at school. She was able to play with children from other classes, and she denied feeling scared to do so. On her last day of counseling, Maya’s counselor asked her what she learned while working together. Maya gave her counselor a big smile and said confidently, “I learned to be brave.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of our clients.
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