New school adjustment counselor, Ms. Molly DelleChiaie arrives at Westford Academy. The Ghostwriter meets with her to see how she is adjusting to WA and what influenced her to come here.
Q: How and when did you get into counseling?
A: I got into counseling when I was working in private practice, not a school setting. I kind of saw what was going on around me and wanted to get involved. I then went back to get my masters, and now I’m here.
Q: When did you know this is what you wanted to do for work?
A: I would say I’ve always really enjoyed working with this age group, so I knew I wanted to do that, I just wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. I would say working in private practice I got to see a lot of interactions between doctors and therapists. I just wanted to get involved. I wanted to do the same thing so that’s what led me here.
Q: Why is Westford Academy a good fit for you and what you have to offer?
A: That’s probably the best question you could ask me right now. So, an interesting story, 2 years ago I interned here with Mrs. Lonergan. There wasn’t a position open when I graduated with my masters, so I went to Marlborough High School to work and be a school adjustment counselor there, and then, over the summer, this position opened up so I left my position in Marlborough and came back.
Q: So you’ve always been interested in coming here?
A: Yep, it’s a great school.
Q: What do you do during this job, what do you help and council with specifically?
A: I would say If you could think of the best things you want to share with someone. You want to share with somebody but maybe don’t know who to share it with, this office is for that. I know that’s kind of vague but sometimes people think of counseling as just the hard stuff. Sometimes good stuff can be hard to decipher through as well.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: I just really enjoy working with young adults, because I feel like you guys have a voice whereas somebody in elementary school it’s really a lot more- even sometimes middle school. It’s a lot of working with parents rather than students directly, so I would say getting on your guys’ level.
Q: What makes counseling and working with high school kids different or possibly better than working with other ages and grades?
A: I don’t know if it’s better, I like how you said or different because it is. It’s just different. I think when you get to high school, there’s a lot more responsibility, you’re expected to be a lot more independent, and with that independence comes a lot of scary thoughts or feelings. It’s a lot of trial and error, and I think in elementary and middle school it’s a lot more concrete. This is where you are, this is what we’re doing. And there’s not any gray area. I think in high school when you introduce that gray area, there comes a lot of mixed emotions with it. I just know that working with this age group is where I belong.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an adjustment counselor?
A: In one word, everything. When I was in high school, there was no such thing as school adjustment counselors until I was a junior. Our school suffered a tragic loss of one of our students and there was only one adjustment counselor. I don’t know how because we had 1700 students school, but she was our go-to in a tragic and difficult situation. So I think ever since then, you know, I try to emulate that and try to be that support for students in or out of tragedy.
Q: What do you think is the most important characteristic of being a school counselor is?
A: I think being relatable. If you guys came in here to talk with me, and you were like she’s kind of weird, and I don’t know if I can trust her and she’s not cool, [no one would come]. I don’t know if I’m cool, but I think I’m pretty cool. Would you trust me to talk if I wasn’t the person I am right now, if I didn’t have that kind of vibe about me? I think it’s important on school accounts that the person is a professional and appropriate but also is able to get on the level of where you guys are at. It’s really important.
Q: So what’s the difference between a therapist, a counselor, and an adjustment counselor?
A: The names. it just kind of depends on where you’re at. I think you could call me a therapist, you could call me a counselor, or you could call me an adjustment counselor. I’m all of the above. But I guess the only difference is where you’re practicing kind of what the rules are, and confidentiality and things like that, obviously, working in a school, you follow the rules of a school district, right. Whereas in a private practice, you kind of follow the rules of an insurance company. So it just depends on where you’re working. But you could put that name on all three of those names on me.
Q: What does your job mean to you?
A: It means that I could work with you know, twenty kids a day, maybe that’s a lot, but maybe fifteen. If I can help one of those students overcome something difficult in their life or just be there for them in a moment where they just need, you know, an ear to listen. Unfortunately, in our line of work, that doesn’t always happen. But, being able to come back and loving what I do makes me come back and I think I can’t imagine myself doing any other job. So it means more to me probably than I can even put into words.