Life Of A Brave: When Being a “Brave” Means Getting Help, CPLA Is There
by Emilio Ceja and Jesse Neville
Stress levels in teens are beginning to match and even surpass the levels of adults, often in worse conditions than those stressed adults because of the unique social pressures adolescents face. Without a way to cope or handle this stress, many students often become overwhelmed and can fall behind in taking care of their schoolwork, their personal relationships and, most importantly, themselves.
However, students at St. John Bosco have a choice. Bosco began its mental health counseling program began during the 2006-2007 school year, offering a free and personalized counseling service to help with student stress and other issues they may face. Through this program, the students are not treated as “clients,” but are treated as a friend that has others around them that they are able to talk to.
The original “Outreach Concern” counselors at Bosco have been replaced by counselors from a new company called Counseling Partners of Los Angeles (CPLA). These new CPLA counselors serve the same purpose as the Outreach ones and help the academic counselors meet all aspects of student needs.
While assisting the free mental health counseling service at Bosco, these counselors also complete the hours they need for their Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) degrees. Emaryne, one of the counselors currently at Bosco, has been with CPLA for about a year and has almost completed her set amount of hours to receive her MFT degree. She is a counselor that prides herself on taking creative approaches to therapy.
“I do a lot of play therapy. I don’t do the traditional counseling of sitting across from you asking about your feelings,” said Emaryne.
The idea of a stress-free meeting with a counselor, such as just talking while throwing a football around or going for a walk, does not seem to be something that can help with stress, but in reality, the simplest actions can help the most.
Mr. Jaramillo, the activities director, currently oversees the counseling program at Bosco. He is pleased with the change in the CPLA counselors, explaining how the new counselors work methodically and systematically to help students most.
“Outreach was reactive, but CPLA is more preventive. Along with being strategically reactive, the CPLA counselors are much more structured and easily approachable,” said Mr. Jaramillo.
Meetings with the counselors can be scheduled in a variety of ways, teachers or family members can ask for a student to be seen by the counselors, or better yet, the student themselves can walk into the CPLA office and just ask to talk to them.
The counselors themselves leave time slots open throughout the day in case there is a need for them to be called at any time. They prepare ahead of time with their schedule to make sure they have time for any student that comes through the door.
Students are not limited to using the service only if recommended, which is a major deal. This means any student can go no matter the circumstance or the need.
One student from the senior class went to the counselors just because he needed someone to talk to and express the troubles he had that he could not bring up at home. These issues that were going on in his household were getting in the way of his school work, and throughout the process of counseling, he says that his grades recovered and he no longer had to take Summer school.
“It was a calming and personal experience that allowed me to refocus on the opportunities in front of me,” said the class of 2020 student.
This rarely used program can be beneficial to many but is surrounded by the stigma of something having to be wrong in order to go. The counselors are there to benefit students, and there does not need to be a serious problem for a student to attend.
Personal counseling is rare to find, especially for free. Despite this, the counseling services are not well-known, or even known at all, to some. Breaking the mental health stigma around campus is the first step toward putting a lot more students in the best environment possible to thrive and take advantage of all that come with being a “Brave.”