Rural and remote school counsellors find themselves in professional contexts that differ significantly from their counterparts in urban areas. They face unique challenges, which can include working in multiple job sites, having limited access to professional contacts and resources, requiring a larger scope of practice, navigating boundary concerns/violations and overlapping relationships. However, they also face several opportunities, such as flexible counselling spaces, experiential learning opportunities, helping students in key transitional times, as well as deeper community connections and belonging. There are further considerations for cultural and social justice issues, as well as for supervision, and ethical decision-making which are important to explore and discuss from a rural-specific perspective, a perspective which is underrepresented in literature and professional learning opportunities.
Through case scenarios and interactive discussion, this workshop explores the questions: "What does it mean to be a school counsellor in a remote/rural area?", "What impacts does this have for our clients and for our own practice?", and "What supports would help rural counsellors to build and maintain effective and fulfilling practices?" By engaging participants through narrative and interactive technological tools (annotation, polling, breakout groups), this session aims to both explore and inform the experiences of school counsellors working in small communities. Moreover, this workshop seeks to support those counsellors by building a rural and remote community of practice, and through engaging participants in co-planning suggested actions together.
Vanessa Marie (she/her, M.C., CCC) lives and works on the traditional and unceded territories of the skwxwú7mesh and shíshálh peoples on BC's Sunshine Coast where she is both a school counsellor, and a clinical counsellor in private practice. She has experience counselling and teaching in a variety of roles from K-12, in rural and Indigenous contexts across BC and in Northern Québec. Vanessa is also a passionate advocate in all areas of social justice. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, being in nature, keeping active, and exploring her creativity.
Jennifer Byrne-Wissink (she/her, MC, DVATI) is a school counsellor and art therapist. She has been working with children and youth in rural schools on Haida Gwaii for the past seven years. Jennifer is passionate about inclusion, accessibility, empowerment, and creativity. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her partner and their three children, make pottery, do yoga and go on outdoor adventures. Jennifer is grateful to live, work, and play on the unceded territory of the Haida people.