By Ashley Na
As of this year, students who are interested in becoming peer counselors are now required to take peer mediation as an elective. The class directs students to develop formal training and skillsets that are required in order to become a peer tutor.
“A lot of what we do is give students different scenarios in class of what they might encounter. They have to decide how they might talk or react to a student,” English and peer mediation teacher Kaile Betts said. “Students have notes on the things learned during class.
They keep that information when they become a peer counselor.”
Communication skills, coping mechanisms and brain theory, as well as psychological theories are taught to peer mediation students. In addition, students are exposed to several topics such as anxiety, stress, positive thinking and depression.
“In peer mediation we learn how to lead a conflict in an appropriate manner, such as leading a support group. The peer counselor should let everyone share out and respect those who do not want to share out,” junior peer mediation student Lauren Lopez said.
There are approximately 15 students who are currently taking the course, most of them being juniors and seniors. Although the peer mediation class is taught by Betts in room 407, the program itself is run by Brian Smith. According to Betts, students who take the class generally share a desire to help others.
“Peer counseling interested me because of my willingness to help friends through times of need,” junior peer mediation student Danielle Ortiz said.
Moreover, students who are interested in the field of Psychology can gain experience through taking the class. Through peer mediation, students learn how to utilize those specific theories, such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and apply them to solving problems and providing advice for students in need.
“They learn skills that apply directly to their life. Their communication and conflict resolution skills transfer to all the relationship skills they have developed in their life,” Betts said. “The other part of why students take [peer mediation] is that many of them are interested in a specific career such as dealing with mental health [and] issues in peer counseling.”
According to Betts, Psychology and peer counseling are different curriculums sharing similar ideas. She also states that students with a personal problem are always welcome to come in and look for advice.
“Our goal is to be a resource to students on campus. We want to help each other [become] aware that although we are here for school; our mental health, emotions, physical health and the ability to cope with struggles are very important to having a successful academic career,” Betts said. “If any student would like to seek that help, they absolutely should. Peer counseling is a safe place to do that.”