We wish we learned earlier the importance of having a working relationship with a school’s counselling department, and being able to gain wisdom from them.
Role of school counselor
Since coming to Puxin, we wanted to reach families. Most of the parents and the communities (and even churches) are often primarily concerned for their children’s academic performance. The exception is the school counselling department. Their primary concern is for the emotional, relational and overall well-being of the student. Often they are interested in getting to know the parents as well. In more rural areas, the department lacks resources, and may appreciate the opportunity to work with Christians who are also concerned for the student’s overall well-being.
Emotional and social difficulties
In Puxin, a high proportion of families who reach out to us have experienced emotional and social difficulties. Their children may have received a diagnosis of some kind: the Lee’s have a child with ADHD; the Wang’s kid meets criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder; and the Wu’s eldest has Tourette syndrome and tend to be violent.
The adults probably have similar issues too, though they may not have received any diagnosis. To make things more complicated, some of these diagnoses may not be accurate nor fully capture the reality. This is when we asked the school staff about their observations and opinions.
Where does help come from?
We have also come across families who need external help from various organisations. Where do we get help? The counselling department serves well as the first stop. They are able to know when to refer to the police (who could intervene when they see physical, obvious injury), and then the public sector social workers (who do assessments and case management).
Having learnt about this aspect of Taiwanese culture, we want to commit to building a relationship with such key staff from local schools, wherever we are located. This means we find out where the local schools are, and what their contact number is. We may initiate the contact, or more ideally we find a “middle person” who already knows us and also has a relationship with school staff, e.g. local church pastor/ elder/ member, village chief, parents of students, or local ministry platforms like Champions association. We get to know the school’s perceived needs, and we let them know what we can offer.
What can we offer? God guides us, and we can start with offering the Word of God and prayer.
– Jason, Church Planter
(Puxin Township, Changhua County, Central Taiwan)