February is Psychology Month and we want to take the time to highlight and celebrate the contributions of psychological services consultants at the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB).

At the WRDSB, psychology staff work with students, staff and parents to support learning and development, as well as helping to address mental health concerns. Each school in our system has a psychological services consultant who is dedicated to providing assessment, consultation and intervention support. Psychology staff play an integral role in providing a deeper understanding of why a student may be struggling and developing strategies in collaboration with parents and teachers to support their specific learning needs.

Perhaps most importantly, they help students better understand their own strengths and areas of need. This empowers them to become self-advocates for their learning needs, and their physical and mental health in school and in life, ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed.

To help illustrate the work they do every day, we asked a few of our psychological services consultants to put together some of their most memorable experiences working with our students and staff. This is part one of a two-part series – stay tuned for more stories later this month.

TestMasters Tackles Test Anxiety

Every secondary student experiences stress when it comes to tests and exams. Too much anxiety can interfere with students’ studying and prevents them from doing their best. WRDSB Psychological Services Consultants have developed a Test Anxiety Group, “TestMasters”, which is offered to students on their lunch break to help them learn strategies to manage their anxiety. Students learn a range of strategies such as relaxation, how to challenge unhelpful thoughts, as well as self-care and general study strategies. Students feel relieved that they’re “not alone in feeling worried about this” and that the strategies have helped them “learn healthier ways of thinking.”

– Lisa B and Liz

Strengthening Staff Understanding of Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours

Psychology staff presented to teachers about the importance of understanding thoughts, feelings and behaviours in students, but one especially attentive teacher took the information and applied it to herself. When an event happened in the staff room that would normally have bothered her, she took a moment to reflect on her thoughts, feelings and choose her behaviour. She noticed her response to the event was noticeably different, and it did not carry the same emotional weight as it may ordinarily have. Using these same concepts, she found herself better equipped to assist her students struggling with emotional difficulties.

– Dave

Working With New Canadian Families

New Canadians sometimes require additional supports when their children have developmental or mental health challenges. Through the facilitation of an interpreter, psychological staff are able to ensure accurate communication with parents and caregivers and conduct assessments for students who had been born in other countries with different cultures and languages. This resulted in a better understanding of the needs of these students and their families, as well as increased understanding for the parents about how their children learn best and about the type of resources and accommodations available at school to support their child.

– Sol

Please join us in thanking and celebrating the psychology staff at the WRDSB for all they do every day to improve the lives of our students – each and every one. Make sure to include #PsychologyMonth and #PsychologyAtWork if posting your thanks on social media and visit cpa.ca/psychologymonth for more info.