Peer Counseling Club holds training session for new peer counselors

Members+hug+after+playing+%22cross+the+line.%22+Photo+by+Elia+Chen.
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Peer Counseling Club holds training session for new peer counselors

Members hug after playing

Members hug after playing "cross the line." Photo by Elia Chen.

Members hug after playing "cross the line." Photo by Elia Chen.

Members hug after playing "cross the line." Photo by Elia Chen.

Elia Chen

Members learn skills to better their communication.Twenty three students stood in a straight line in the middle of the MVHS library. As a blonde girl standing to the side called out statements, including “if you feel alone” and “if you have ever been in a bad relationship,” a few boys and girls stepped forward.

Members playing “cross the line,” a trust building game in which members cross the line if they agree with the statement. Photo by Elia Chen.

Members playing “cross the line,” a trust building game in which members cross the line if they agree with the statement. Photo by Elia Chen.

When they did, the rest of the students in the line raised their arms in support.

On Jan. 11, Peer Counseling Club held its second Peer Counseling training session where members participated in trust-building activities, like the “cross the line” game. Club officers and advisor Student Advocate Richard Prinz led the session, training members to become peer counselors by teaching them communication and listening skills.

Last year, the club trained the members in a series of eight lunches, but due to the limited amount of time each lunch offered, this year, the officers decided that it would be more effective to hold one session on the weekend.

“Last year it felt messier,” member junior Megan Chandler said. “This seemed very well put together, and everyone seemed very committed in the end.”

Members hug after playing "cross the line." Photo by Elia Chen.

Members hug after playing “cross the line.” Photo by Elia Chen.

The training began with a variety of trust and team building activities, meant to make the members feel comfortable with each other. For example, the members participated in a game in which a member guided another member, whose eyes were closed, around the library. In another exercise, members had to cross the room by stepping on pieces of paper. These activities helped members learn how to communicate effectively and how to work together as a team.

“We do our best, our hundred percent, to first build the trust between the people involved, and then we go on to help them understand the basic concepts,” Director of Seminar senior Abhi Vaidyanatha said.

According to Vaidyanatha, the main concept taught during the session was listening skills, because only 7 percent of

Members filled out a questionnaire at the end the session so that the club could match counselors with students in need of help. Photo by Elia Chen.

Members filled out a questionnaire at the end the session so that the club could match counselors with students in need of help. Photo by Elia Chen.

communication is verbal. Prinz and the officers prepared packets with information papers for the members on this concept, among others such as gestures and eye contact, so that the members could use these skills to effectively communicate with students who need help.

The members also filled out questionnaires about personal information, like on their families and hobbies, so that the club could pair students in need of counseling with a compatible counselor.

“If somebody comes to us with a problem, say that their parents just got divorced, we can match the experience, so it might be easier to talk to them,” Prinz said.

At the end of the session, all of the members were awarded the title of “peer counselors”. However, the members believe that the skills that they learned

will not only help them as peer counselors but also as friends, peers and students.

“I think that [members] have gained a deeper understanding of relationships and of other people, how to contribute to other people’s lives constructively, and overall, what people need to feel comfortable,” Chandler said.