President's Message

By Kelly Curtis, WSCA President

WSCA Conference Countdown!

Happy New Year! 

As we start 2015, please take some time to celebrate school counseling. Next month will start with National School Counseling Week and this is your opportunity to spotlight the work you do.  It’s still a month away, so you have plenty of time to organize one of the great ideas to promote school counseling, listed on the ASCA Website. We will also share some great ideas on the WSCA Facebook page, so be sure to follow us.

This year’s WSCA Conference will be a very special one.  Our 50th anniversary will come with some very fun celebrations and as always we have another fabulous lineup of speakers as well.  There is still time to register  (early bird deadline 1/23/15) and find accommodations, so if you haven’t planned your trip yet, please do so right away.  Every year other state associations throughout the country envy our annual conference.  We have an amazing event here in Wisconsin, so I hope you’ll join us at Monona Terrace on February 17-19!

Topic of the Month:  School Counseling History – WSCA Turns 50!

WSCA is 50 years old.  A History Lesson.
By: Kelly Curtis, WSCA President

I wasn’t even born yet, but I would be by the end of the decade.  The Sound of Music was released. My Fair Lady won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The Star Trek second pilot episode was produced.  Pink Floyd was formed and the Beatles released their fifth album.  Kellogg’s Apple Jacks first appeared on grocery store shelves. The St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed.  Medicare was created. The Wisconsin School Counseling Association was formed.
And it was a time of volatile change.  Malcolm X was assassinated. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the second and third marches from Selma to Montgomery.  President Johnson was inaugurated for his first full term after taking the oath when President Kennedy was assassinated two years prior.  He signed the National Voting Act of 1965 into law, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S. The Watts Riots in Los Angeles resulted in 34 deaths and 1032 injuries.  And the first American combat troops enter the Vietnam War.
School Counseling in some form had already been in existence for select schools since the early 1900’s.  Although the rise of progressive education of schools emphasized personal, social and moral development, many schools reacted negatively to this movement, saying schools should only teach the fundamentals of education.
The Great Depression saw a decline in services and in the 40’s psychologists and counselors were used to recruit military personnel.  In the 50’s the U.S. government established the Guidance and Personnel Services Section in the Division of State and Local School Systems and the National Defense Education Act funding spurred a huge growth in vocational guidance. 
But in the 1960’s our profession strengthened in the way we know it now.  There was new legislation, new counseling theories, and funding to universities for what would now be called counselor education programs.  School counseling paralleled the rise in social justice and civil rights movements in the United States, particularly the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the women’s movement. It began to shift from a focus exclusively on career development to a focus on student personal and social issues as well.
The rest of our history we possibly know better.  It was our own school counselors in our own histories, it was a stronger emphasis on schools having a comprehensive developmental school counseling program for every student K-12.  But 50 years ago was a pivotal time in school counseling, just as it was for our nation.
While this year is not as volatile as 1965, we are certainly in a constant state of change.  And I wonder what will be written about our profession in 2015? Will it be the time when cultural competency became a mainstay? Or when we learned to embrace technology to serve students and move forward in the profession? Is it a time when we helped to conquer bullying and return to respect? Or when we helped the masses to understand there are other routes to success besides a four-year university with six-figure debt?
I don’t know what history will remember, but I do know that the data we produce will identify it.  Our profession has already been using needs-based assessments and documentation of program effectiveness for decades.  We are very good at it, but it’s doubtful that most outside of the profession are really aware of what we do so well within it. 
We have tools at our disposal, in the Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report (WSCPAR) and the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP).  And though we are not required to by the state of Wisconsin, many of us are completing student learning objectives for our districts.  The more we can utilize these tools to illustrate and publicize the powerful impact we have in our programs, the more our programs will be recognized for these efforts. 
Let’s write our own history.

The History and Trends in Counseling,
History of School Counseling,
“A Brief History of Career Counseling in the United States,” The Career Development Quarterly, March 2000, Volume 48
Guidance and School Counseling – A Brief History of School Guidance and Counseling in the United States,
An Integrative Model of Data-Base Decision Making for School Counseling, ASCA, December 2006

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National School Counseling Week!
By: Lisa Koenecke, WSCA Past President 2014-2015

National School Counseling Week 2015 will be celebrated from Feb. 2-6, 2015. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. National School Counseling Week is always celebrated the first full week in February.  This is a great time to highlight WSCA’s 50th anniversary!  We also have the White House recognizing our value as a profession through the “Reach Higher Initiative”.  Did you know that in addition to the National Teacher of the Year being invited to the White House, that the National School Counselor of the Year will also now be invited to the White House?
Need ideas for how to celebrate National School Counseling Week? Check out our Pinterest board for National School Counseling Week and share your ideas. Also, follow the discussion on ASCA SCENE. (Note: You'll need to set up an account on the SCENE to access the discussion if you don't already have one.)
To help you promote the week, ASCA has developed many materials and documents, a number of which are free. Order your materials by Jan. 23, 2015, to ensure they arrive in time for National School Counseling Week.

  • Proclamation – Get your governor, superintendent, mayor or other dignitary to sign a proclamation declaring Feb. 2–6 as National School Counseling Week. Download a blank proclamation for free on ASCA’s website. I have sent in a request to the Governor’s office for us to be recognized this year!  Every year I have the Mayor of Stoughton and our Superintendent also sign a proclamation as well.
  • You can also find a sample press release, examples of morning announcements and certificates of appreciation on the website.  Why reinvent the wheel?  The work is already done for you!
  • Posters, pencils, stickers are also available for purchase!

Richard Wong and Superintendent Evers will be at the WSCA conference to celebrate our 50th anniversary!  Show your school counseling pride by celebrating the marvelous ways we support students every day!

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DPI Corner

As We Turn the Calendar to a New Year, a Reminder on Self-Care
Gregg Curtis; DPI School Counseling Consultant

Self-care is not a luxury. It is a human requisite, a professional necessity, and an ethical imperative. –Norcross & Guy, 2007
How are school counselors, police, firefighters, and emergency room doctors similar? Often we are the first responders or “outsiders” to learn that trauma is or has affected our students and/or their families. During our educational preparation we get some training in how to recognize health issues and indications of suspected trauma or abuse in our students. However, most of us receive virtually no training in the self-care necessary to prevent vicarious trauma.
We know caring is important and that the relationship we have with students often contributes to the foundation for their success. Counseling Theory 101 introduced us to terms like empathy, geniuses, and unconditional positive regard. In order to assist students, our work requires us to deeply engage our minds and our hearts in the struggles they face; to experience their lives from a phenomenological perspective. Sometimes in the process of listening and providing help, we learn of unspeakable sorrow, pain, or circumstances. Listening to these stories and circumstances does not come without cost. Over time this exposure can lead to vicarious (or secondary) trauma.
The empathy which we transform into the power to heal is a double-edged sword. While it empowers our facilitation of change in our students, it can also cause our own considerable upset.  The residual effects of our empathetic listening can be irritability, change in appetite, diminished concentration, or detachment. The internalization of frightening realities not personally experienced is vicarious (or secondary) trauma. The constant demands to be there for others can cause fatigue, emotional distress, or apathy that interferes with our ability to do our best work.
Understanding the concept of the “wounded healer,” rare is the counselor who has not experienced themselves or known someone of significant importance who has experienced trauma. The re-activation of feelings and thoughts brought on by vicarious trauma can be both personally and professional significant if not recognized and positively resolved.
The personal impact of vicarious trauma can be seen or felt in a number of areas. Significant effects in physical, emotional, and behavioral health are impacted. Loss of sleep, anxiety, changes in routine, and even losing things may be a sign of secondary trauma. Other personal effects may be in the cognitive, interpersonal, or spiritual arenas; resulting in loss of focus, hyper vigilance, mistrust, and a sense of frustration and lack of support.
Professionally, we should recognize changes in the quality of our job tasks, our morale, and interpersonal relationships. We may make more mistakes, lose interest in our work, or feel the imminent need for that “mental day.” Additionally, we may unconsciously try to silence those who rely on us for help by wishing they would just get over it, using sarcasm or humor to minimize their experiences, or simply ignoring the situation or the student altogether. However, the signs present, we must ethically deal with them.
Luckily, the research into trauma (both primary and secondary) has grown exponentially. There are thousands of strategies to deal with trauma, and self-care begins with self-awareness. Taking the time to reflect on “how am I doing?” is a vital initial step. The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL R-IV) is a tool to assist helping professionals in that reflection ( The ProQOL is the most commonly used measure of the negative and positive effects of helping others who experience suffering and trauma. The measure has been in use since 1995, and there have been several revisions. The ProQOL has sub-scales for compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue.

Once you have determined how you are doing, you may want to adopt strategies for prevent or alleviate symptoms of vicarious trauma. Most strategies involve changes to various aspects of your life that can be integrated into your routine. Changes in physical fitness, nutrition/hydration, and sleep/rest can be combined with creative, fun/enjoyment, and/or centering activities to address the symptoms of vicarious trauma and heal the helper.
As we turn the calendar to a New Year and think about the resolutions we’ve made over the holiday, let’s not forget about taking care of ourselves. Our students, parents, and colleagues deserve to get our “A” games.
The Heart of Learning & Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency & Academic Success – Chapter 2
Norcross, J.C., & Guy, J.D. (2007). Leaving it at the office: A guide to psychotherapist self-care. New York: Guildford Press.

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Board Member Spotlight

Carrie King, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, PSC:  Post-Secondary VP
After many years of reaping the benefits of WSCA membership, I was afforded the opportunity to  give back to the organization by becoming a member of the board and sharing my energy, ideas, support of others and time. I am in my second year on the WSCA Board as a representative of school counselor education programs in Wisconsin. My day job transitioned from 15 years of high school counseling to working at Mt Mary University in Milwaukee where I train and supervise part of the next generation of school counselors. My involvement on the Board has given me the opportunity to work with creative school counselor leaders at all levels and to think on a state and national scope, developing goals and objectives with long-term impact to school counselors and the students they work with. Specific responsibilities of my role on the Board include ethics and research. I encourage school counseling master’s students to attend the annual WSCA conference and to participate in the Graduate Student poster session in February.
Brianne Mehlos: Secondary VP
My experience with the WSCA Governing Board of Directors began in graduate school at UW - Stout, when I had the opportunity to serve as a student representative and chairperson for the WSCA Graduate Student Sub-Committee. After I began working as an Elementary School Counselor in Somerset, WI, I rejoined the WSCA Board to serve as Elementary Vice President. Several years later I accepted a new position in Southeastern Wisconsin as a High School Counselor at Arrowhead Unified School District in Hartland, WI, and have been able to continue working with WSCA. The past seven years have been a great learning experience with WSCA.  It has been exciting to see how much the organization has evolved together with the collaboration of so many excellent counselors across the state.  I’m looking forward to another great Conference this year!

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Upcoming Events & Announcements

WSCA 2015 Annual Conference Update - Feb. 17-19, 2015 "Fifty Years of Commitment to Excellence"
Why do YOU come to the WSCA Annual Conference?  It’s a question that quite possibly has as many answers as there are attendees from year to year.  It’s clear that there is no other event in Wisconsin that provides the high quality professional development targeted specifically to Professional School Counselors with such a broad array of topics.   For many, that’s the primary reason for coming each year.  For others, it’s a chance to catch up with colleagues that may only be seen this one time a year.  This networking is what makes practicing our profession in the state so much fun.  We validate each other, encourage each other, and share our best practices with each other.  The result of this exchange is that we all get a little better at what we do.

The value of the WSCA Annual Conference has been proven year after year, as we typically have over 1100 attendees each year!  This year promises to be just as educational and empowering.   The topics for the sessions will address so many of the issues and practices that are current for so many of us.  Ultimately, the primary beneficiaries of the time taken to attend the conference will be the kids and families that we serve.

This year there may be a little extra reason to attend.  WSCA is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary as an association!  We’ll be celebrating that throughout the conference, with a special toast during the reception on Wednesday night.  What a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate our profession, and more specifically, our professional association that has been providing quality representation and education for so many years.

So, whatever your reason for attending, WSCA is committed to providing the highest quality experience for you.  We look forward to seeing you in Madison this coming February!  Click Here to register - Early Bird Deadline January 23, 2015

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WSCA Day on the Hill: Continuing to Build Our Legislative Momentum

As the 2015 legislative session begins in January, there will be many new faces in the Wisconsin Legislature and, inevitably, new legislation introduced that will impact our profession. Given this, it is vitally important that WSCA members turn out to participate in our 3rd annual WSCA Day on the Hill on Tuesday afternoon, February 17, 2015. This exciting event has become a cornerstone of the annual conference and is FREE to attend!

Come learn how to effectively advocate for the profession you love and put it to practice under the dome! WSCA Day on the Hill will begin with a preconference sectional that will provide an overview of how to get your message out to your legislators about what you do, the difference you make, and how they can help support our mission. Following the interactive training session, we will walk to the Capitol where you will be scheduled to meet with your respective member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate. This event is an outstanding opportunity for professional leadership and advocacy. Over the years, our presence on the Hill has paid, and will continue to pay dividends for WSCA and all school counselors statewide. Join us, and keep the positive momentum growing!  Click Here to register

The WSCA Board of Directors believes school counselors are visionary leaders who impact the state and national agenda surrounding education and student success. In the coming year, WSCA will expand its focus to include advocacy at the federal level, in addition to our continued work at the state level through WSCA Day on the Hill and our partnerships with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development DWD).

The mission of the Government Affairs Committee is to monitor and keep the membership informed about government action that could impact our profession. To do this, we will continue to build on past momentum to create a statewide network of school counselors who would consider contacting their elected officials when a critical issue emerges about which we want to respond.

If you would like to serve on the Government Affairs Committee and/or be added to our growing statewide network of school counselors who would be willing to reach out to their elected officials in the future, please contact me right away at or 262-893-3880. Thank you for your valued time and best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season and new year!

Educators Credit Union Partnership

WSCA is proud to announce our continued partnership with: Educators Credit Union! We are thrilled to partner with ECU and want to spread awareness about their incredibly generous scholarship opportunity for high school seniors, read on for more info!
Educators Credit Union awards twenty-five $1,500 scholarships, based on a student’s academic record, participation in school and/or community activities, and demonstration of one or more of the core values of Educators Credit Union, which are respect, integrity, community, passion, and stewardship. Additionally, students must attend a Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, or Waukesha County High School.
The completed scholarship application is due by March 14, 2015 and can be found at



January 2015

President's Message
By Kelly Curtis
Topic of the Month:
School Counseling History – WSCA Turns 50!

National School Counseling Week!

Board Member Spotlight

Upcoming Events & Announcements

Be sure to join WSCA at:

Click Here to Register for the WSCA Annual Conference
Early Bird Deadline 1/23/15

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