Fifty Steps Closer

Special Revised Edition
Table of Contents
Backpacks correspond to the page numbers of the lesson plan title found in the Table of Contents.

Friends, Colleagues, & Educators

This is the revised edition of Fifty Steps Closer: Group Counseling Guide in Reflections of School-Aged Boys & Girls. The revised edition contains a significant number of improvements in terms of corrections, clarifications, and expansions within the text. An addendum (sample) has also been added to the book promoting Fifty More Steps, an internet accessed mental health classroom counseling curriculum for grades 1-12.

The corrections focus primarily on changes in punctuation, nouns, pronouns, and verbs. Clarifications include additional and or supplemental text to help the counselor develop a clearer understanding for how the materials are to be used and how they are intended to unfold. Be mindful, however, as you adjust the activities to meet the emotional, social, and cognitive needs of your group members. That is, continually assess the crew and keep your eyes fixed on the destination.

A majority of the other significant changes in the text are found in the sections Considerations and Student Reflections. In Considerations, new information has been added to assist the counselor in identifying students requiring additional interventions. This new information primarily consists of improving a counselor’s recognition of the “red flags” students frequently bring to group.

In this text, red flags represent symptoms of a “disconnection” students may be experiencing as evidenced by attendance, academic, discipline, and or interpersonal concerns. More specifically, student issues may manifest in one or more of the following disconnect sub-groups of Isolation, Intimidation, and Rebellion. Evidence of Isolation may be seen in students who have yet established the skills required to engage and or maintain positive interpersonal relationships with their peers. These students are often off by themselves, frequently visit the nurse’s office, bounce between peer groups, and or have an observed history of “being by themselves.” Indicators of Intimidation are often evident when students begin developing patterns of manipulating their peers intellectually, emotionally, and or behaviorally. In a school environment, students, teachers, and principals refer to this type of manipulative behavior as “bullying.” Lastly, focal features of Rebellion are predominately interpreted by signs, words, and actions which actively work against established societal norms. Disruption, defiance, and instigating conflict are often seen as indicators of rebellion. Suspensions, expulsions, and participation in gangs and gang related behaviors are frequently construed as primary examples of rebellion.

Two observations I have made of the disconnected community in general. The first is that students who tend to isolate, often end up on the wrong side of dysfunctional relationship with those who intimidate. Whereas, rebellious disconnects, in the absence of having developed genuine self-esteem and skills promoting cooperation, compassion, and humility, frequently develop a distorted, misguided, and maladaptive pride. It is the type of pride which fuels behaviors underscored with anger, blame, resentment, and sense of entitlement.

My second observation is that a majority of disconnected youth from all three sub-groups struggle to discover, create, and or maintain a sense of Purpose, Joy, and Hope in their lives.The final changes made to the original text are found in Student Reflections. In places deemed appropriate, the text has been reconstructed to better assist the reader in simultaneously understanding both the counselor’s intended structure for the group and the student’s actual experience within group.An addendum has been added to this revised edition. The addendum represents just one of fifty mental health counseling activities from an on-line counseling curriculum designed to encourage, support, and promote mental health in grades 1-12. The counseling curriculum utilizes both activity sheets/handouts and videos in supporting school based mental health. For more information and access to this curriculum, go to the Fifty Steps Closer website or do an internet search for: Fifty More Steps.

The original message in Fifty Steps Closer, although enhanced, remains unchanged in that the reader feels the steady pulse of understanding and connecting coursing through the text. Recently, I’ve been, as a colleague adeptly phrased, “Suspended in Grace,” throughout this revision process and resolute in my beliefs that we are Instruments of Change, Messengers of Hope, and Representatives of Grace to all those we encounter. This encounter not only includes the 10% of our students/clients sitting on the other side of the desk, cell, or crisis call requiring 90% of our time, but also the other members of our community who abruptly burst into our schedules without appointment or warning, and despite all odds, perfectly find their way into our lives not having yet discovered their own sense of Hope & Grace. Without Understanding and Connecting, the gift of being in the right place at the right time, without taking the opportunity to actively do the right thing, will fade unopened, leaving one with only the lingering contemplation of “What if?”“Be active in your compassion and gracious in your actions. Strive to be kind.”


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