WFU Department of Counseling: School Counseling with Dr. Tammy Cashwell – Ep. 7

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Audio Transcription:

Bob Nations: Welcome to Wake Forest University’s department of counseling podcast. I’m Bob Nations, faculty member at Wake Forest University, department of counseling.

Shannon Warden: And I’m Dr. Shannon Warden, also a faculty member in the department of counseling. Today, we have with us Dr. Tammy Cashwell, one of our colleagues in the department and she’s gonna be talking with us about school counseling. Tammy, we’ve got lots of people over time in our long history with Wake Forest’s counseling programs, who have come through and studied school counseling. And I know you know a lot more about that than I do, but I’m always impressed with the investment that you and the other school counseling faculty put into those students and I’m looking forward to hearing you talk about this today.

Tammy Cashwell: Well, thank you Shannon. I wanted to talk about this is how every year have multiple students who come to me with questions because they are trying to decide if they wanna go the clinical track or the school track and they’re just not sure what a school counselor does, because most people have various experiences with the school counselors that they happen to have. And depending on your age or where you live, some of them didn’t have a school counselors until they were in high school.

So, I get a lot of phone calls, a lot of students visit me and we talk about what the differences are, as far as what a clinical counselor does as well as a school counselor. And I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where my education, my master’s is in school counseling. My focus and my doctoral program was school counseling, but because I pursued licensure, I’ve been able to work in clinical settings. I’ve worked in a clinical agency and a college counseling center and am doing private practice right now. But I’ve also worked in an elementary school and a high school, so I can kind of speak to both of those tracks of what they offer.

The other thing I always emphasize with students is our students, regardless of the track that you’re on, take exactly the same courses and get exactly the same training, except for clinical has two courses specific to them, school has two courses specific to them. And then we have two electives. One is the DSM course, the diagnostic manual which the clinical people have to take. But I encourage my school counseling folks to take that course as well. It’s an overload for them, but I think it’s very important, especially if they’re gonna pursue licensure which I also encourage our school counseling people to do because it opens up lots of doors for them.

As far as the DSM course, I tell school folks, you, in your school counseling position will not be diagnosing people, but you will be reading multiple reports from psychologists, psychiatrists. You’ll be working with a special ed faculty. So, you’ll need to know what these diagnoses mean. The counseling children course is open to clinical folks. They’re welcome to take it and I always encourage them to take that too because even if you’re not gonna work specifically with children or don’t think that you will, you’re going to work with people who have children in their lives. So, it’s always good to know skills on how to work with children in adolescence specifically.

So one of the main differences between clinical and school is clinical, you’re going to do counseling and lots and lots of counseling. School, you’re going to do counseling, you’re gonna do a lot of other things too. There’s a lot of consulting involved with parents, teachers, administration. Because you work in that specific type of system, you wear a lot of hats. So, you’ll need to know about special education services, because you’ll be helping with IEPs. You’ll be helping with 504 plans.

You’ll need to know about how to apply to colleges. You’ll have to have a good background in career assessments because you’re gonna be – if you work in a high school setting, you’re really gonna be doing a lot of work with kids around what’s your next step after high school. Do you wanna go to college? Do you wanna go to a tech school? Do you wanna pursue some type of career? Lemme help you figure that out.

You’re gonna be working with all types of social and emotional issues. You will be working with kids who’ve experienced death, who’s parents may be separated or getting divorced, who maybe having problems with friends, who may be having problems with girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever that may be. Pregnancy, substance abuse. You’re gonna deal with every issue in the book.
One of the differences is because you’re in a school setting and the primary goal of a school is to educate, you can only keep that child out of class for so long. So, you’re not going to be able to carry a caseload, like a clinical person would do. If you get someone who has serious issues, you gonna refer them out to a community resource.

I wanna follow that up by saying though you may end up seeing this kid on a weekly basis because this child is at school for 6-8 hours a day. And you’re the point person at the school. When they come to school, they carry those problems with them. They carry those issues with them. And if they need someone while they’re at school, you’re that person. So you might see them multiple times a week. You just wouldn’t be seeing them for a 50-minute clinical session, like a clinical counselor would or private practice person would. And the different levels will dictate what you do. Elementary versus middle versus high school, all very different.

Shannon Warden: Let me interrupt you right there Tammy.

Tammy Cashwell: Yeah, yeah absolutely. You can tell I get all passionate about it and I just keep going.

Bob Nations: You are, this is _____________

Shannon Warden: It exciting and it’s one of the faculty member, school counseling students can look forward to either in our campus counseling program or our online MA and counseling program. We’re excited for the last five and six years to have launched into the online world and having great success there Tammy. So, we’re almost a 50-year old campus program and now 5-6 year old, I’m not sure the exact date but somewhere in that range, of online. So, offering the clinical mental health counseling master’s degree and also school counseling masters in either one, clinical mental health or in the school and Tammy, that’s where you were differentiating between the two. Let me make sure I’m tracking with you there.

Tammy Cashwell: Okay.

Shannon Warden: So, the school and the clinical mental health are gonna do virtually the same courses.

Tammy Cashwell: Yes.

Shannon Warden: There are a couple of specialty courses that both take. I heard you say you encourage the school counseling students to go ahead and get that one or two additional mental health courses if time allows –

Tammy Cashwell: Definitely.

Shannon Warden: – that they’re gonna need to be able to interact with multiple issues in the schools.

Tammy Cashwell: Yes.

Shannon Warden: So, while they’re not necessarily a clinical mental health counselor students coming out of our school counseling program are very well equipped to serve in both capacities –

Tammy Cashwell: Definitely.

Shannon Warden: – as a mental health counselor and as a school counselor.

Tammy Cashwell: Yes.

Shannon Warden: Okay. Bob –

Bob Nations: Yes?

Shannon Warden: How about all that? It’s pretty exciting.

Bob Nations: That is, that is. Something that stimulated a though that I had Tammy, I feel very fortunate to work with both you through the past few years in practicum. So, we’ve had the practicum course for the on campus. But also working with the online students as well. One thing I find out is that when they go into practicum and internships, that’s where it becomes a little bit more clear about what counseling could be ‘cause I work primarily with mental health counseling students. But with school counselors, what do you experience happening when they go into their internship and their practicum? How does that help determine is this what I want to do? Is this clarified to me? What experience there with the students?

Tammy Cashwell: That’s a beautiful question because the practicum gives a student who’s not sure –

Bob Nations: Yeah, because that’s different than the clinical medical health _______________ difference too.

Tammy Cashwell: Definitely. We’re cake rep accredited. And cake rep allows a student to do their practicum in either track. Your internship you have to do in the specific track that you’ve chosen. But it’s a beautiful thing because I’ll have students come and talk to me their first semester or they’ll call me on the phone or we’ll Skype, however they wanna do it. And I’ll suggest to them, you know what? If you’re leaning toward clinical but you’re really curious about school, you have the opportunity to do your practicum in a school setting. And then we go into that deep dive of what age child do you want to work with and what does it look like at the different schools?

One of the huge differences is in elementary school, they’re gonna do a lot of large group classroom guidance. In fact, I know in Forsyth County, some of our schools, at least a third to a half of the elementary school counselor’s day is in the classroom. So, we look at that as a psycho-educational large group is what they’re doing. Then the rest of their day, they’re gonna be working with teachers, working directly with students.

Middle school, you’ll do much less classroom guidance, basically because of the way middle school and high school are set up where they’re going to a different class every period now. It’s more difficult to do classroom guidance, but you do it in middle school. It’s more targeted. It’s gonna be more specific to specific social/emotional issues that like right now in the school system almost always they go in and do some psycho ed classes on bullying, on online behavior. And they do that also in the high schools.

And then shift up to the high school, you’re gonna be working a lot, as I said before, with scheduling, and college and what happens after you graduate from high school. So, there’s a lot more administrative types of activities that you might do in a high school. You also are gonna look developmentally what age do you want to want to work with because you’re gonna do some counseling with younger children that’s gonna look very different than what you’re gonna do with a teen.

We talk a lot about play therapy and creative techniques that you can use with children because play is their language and they don’t think has abstractly. Whereas a teenager, you might still use those creative artistic types of methods, but they may look different than what you might use with a much younger child.

So, I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve seen people go into a school counseling practicum and come out going this is it, this is exactly what I wanna do because I love wearing this many hats, there’s never a dull moment, I get to do lots of different things. And then we’ll have people that come out and say you know what? I really wanna focus on doing more counseling. I wanna see that client on a weekly basis or every other week or however they may set it up at that agency or college clinic or private practice. So, that’s usually where I see the difference is the person says I wanna be immersed in counseling 24/7 versus the school person who says I wanna wear a lot of different hats and do a lot of different types of things where you use your counseling skills all the time, regardless of what you’re doing in a school.

Shannon Warden: And you talked some about that Tammy with your own background that you trained both at the master’s and the doctoral level with school counseling and then you have worked in multiple jobs, counseling jobs.

Tammy Cashwell: Yeah, I’ve been really fortunate, really fortunate.

Shannon Warden: So, that variety is likely very appealing to folks who – well, some of us really even in clinical mental health, but for school counselors, that’s one of the probably fringe benefits that you’re getting a lot of variety. Still counseling and counseling related, but maybe much more variety than the typical clinical mental health counselor.

Tammy Cashwell: Yes, yes. And as a school counselor, I always tell our students you gotta be flexible. You gotta be flexible in your job because you can have this beautiful plan for the day. But if a child needs you, then that’s what you do, that’s where your priority goes.

Shannon Warden: Well, that’s what we’re doing and I think Bob for several years now for years and years in the Wake Forest University’s department of counseling is offering solid training for clinical mental health students and for school counseling students. I know that there may be some students or future potential students who would be listening to this and they’re hearing from you Tammy, variety. They’re hearing that they’re gonna do virtually the same training as clinical mental health, but both in the post graduate.

And then there Bob, as you said, as you get into practicum and internship, you’ll begin to experience one of the differences between the two. But you’re gonna get steeped in that solid training. I don’t think I’m being boastful in saying that we’re known for. This is what we do at Wake Forest and what we’ve done for 50 years and what we’re doing for five and six and for the future to come , we’re doing online very well as well. So, Bob, what else do we need to ask Tammy today? Can you think of anything?

Bob Nations: That covers it really well I think.

Shannon Warden: Yeah, okay.

Bob Nations: Unless there’s some other things that –

Shannon Warden: Tammy, did we cover everything?

Tammy Cashwell: I’m gonna make one distinction for folks. This is what clinical people ask once they’ve chosen that track and they said, well what if I wanted to go and get my degree in school counseling? If you’ve chosen a clinical track and you graduate with that degree, you’re gonna have to come back to school and take the two school courses and do the school internship. I don’t know why, but it’s a beautiful thing that if you go the school track, you do not. You do not have to come back and do a clinical. And I think my gut instinct is that because working in the school is a completely different animal. And like I said you have the exact same training, schools are very protective and want anybody that’s in there to have experienced that particular training in that environment. So, school people can get their degree in school counseling and can go ahead and pursue an LPC.

Shannon Warden: That’s terrific and –

Bob Nations: That’s good to know too, particularly students that might be considering the program, to know that the support is there for us, not only in the exceptional training that they get, the kind of experiences that they have to discern which track, where they want to do. So, that’d be helpful.

Shannon Warden: And too Bob, the advising is available – all three of us do this and Tammy I specifically wanna say you, you mentioned students emailing, calling, coming by, because they are making big decisions. When you’re investing in your graduate training, you’re trying to think all right, what’s the best use of my time and my dollars?

Tammy Cashwell: Yeah, absolutely.

Shannon Warden: And to know that they can consult with someone like yourself who has been in school counseling all these years, very passionate about it still – lots of experience to share. What a wonderful opportunity that they have to be able to reach out for that type of advising.

Tammy Cashwell: Oh, I’m happy to do it, definitely.

Shannon Warden: I know you very well. I know you on a personal and a professional level and I know your passion. But you know guys, this is what we’re trying to do both now historically in our campus program and increasingly as we’ve gotten further into the online educational world. We’re offering the MA, masters of arts in clinical mental health counseling and in school counseling for students either current or future. As you’re hearing this, we’re hopeful that you’re hearing folks here are passionate about this training and available. Tammy, that’s something that’s just sticking with me from our talk today is that we’re available to answer questions.

Tammy Cashwell: Yes.

Shannon Warden: Or maybe this podcast will help with that as well, but we’re just trying to understand the individual students, understanding what their calling is, their giftedness is and really just trying to individualize as best we can what their training will be with us in their counseling program.

Tammy Cashwell: Yeah.

Shannon Warden: All right.

Bob Nations: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Tammy Cashwell: Sure. Thank you for having me.