Staff Spotlight: Meet the college counsellor Aurora
Tell us a bit about what your responsibilities are at SFX?
I am responsible for the students’ mental and emotional health needs.
How do you think you contribute to the life at SFX?
By supporting students who struggle to cope with the demands that life in general, and academic life in particular, places on them.
How important is it for colleges and education in general to expand on helping student development with facilities other than the classroom?
It is extremely important to look at the students as a whole and not purely from an academic point of view. Aside of an intellectual side to them, students also have mental, emotional, social, physical and other needs that need to be looked after in order for them to develop in a balanced way and to succeed in life.
Research has shown that learning is directly affected by the mental and emotional state of the learner. Sometimes, students who are unhappy, anxious or distracted by difficulties in their personal lives, can find it hard to focus, absorb and retain information, which is exactly what you need to do in order to pass exams and to complete assignments. In these cases, having a professional in the college to talk to and to help processing difficult feelings can make all the difference.
Extra-curricular activities, let it be physical activities, creative activities or cultural and religious activities are also of immense importance. They offer students the chance to try new things, learn new skills and find out about talents and interests that they may not know they have, which in turn has a very positive impact on self-esteem and self-confidence.
Extra-curricular activities also allow students to make new friends and meet students who they may not come in contact with otherwise. This is very helpful because “loneliness and difficulty making friends” is one of the most common reasons for seeking counselling when students first arrive in SFX.
What is the most satisfying part of working as the college counsellor?
Meeting some incredible young people who show unbelievable resilience and determination despite their difficult circumstances. They are an inspiration to me.
How important is it for SFX students to have access to a counselling service in the college and why?
Integrating a counselling service within the college gives out the message that students’ mental and emotional health needs are as important as their academic pursuits; having the service on site means that they do not have to waste time travelling back and forth to appointments; also session times can be arranged around their timetable, making it very easy for them to attend the appointments.
What advice do you have for students whom may be reluctant or embarrassed to consider using the counselling service at SFX?
I would advise them to attend a Drop In session on Fridays at 10.00am and try it out. Counselling doesn’t work for everyone, but you will never know if it works for you, unless you try it!
What information do you want to pass on to students about the counselling service available to them at SFX?
I would advise them to come and speak to me directly so they can ask me any questions they may have about it; and I would advise them to do so as many times as they need to, until they are satisfied that they can trust me to provide the support they need.
Alternatively, they can e-mail me to book an appointment or to request information about mental health or local youth services. I will be happy to direct them to the appropriate resources.