Personal Counseling

Overlake’s School Counselors provide a wide variety of programs and services to promote students’ academic success and their personal and social well-being. The School Counseling program also serves families of students, supporting parent awareness, education through seminars, and interaction through ParentNet (as described below).

Counselors work with students and teachers to build community in a variety of settings, including classroom discussions, homeroom periods, community times, class seminars, special events, and school assemblies. As such, the School Counseling program is comprised of two main components of care: Responsive Services and Educational/Preventative Programs. The key distinction here is that responsive services are on-going, prompt actions and interventions to meet student and family needs as they naturally arise, while the educational and preventive services are pro-active, planned steps to address common childhood and adolescent issues and concerns. Here are sample services of each component:

Responsive Services

Personal Counseling: Counseling is provided in small groups or individual sessions for students who would benefit from further support regarding personal issues. These issues may include but are not limited to stress, depression, conflict with others, self-awareness, adjustment, and social skill development.

Crisis Counseling: Counseling and support are provided to students and their families facing emergency situations.

Referrals: Counselors refer students and families to outside professionals or resources as needed.

Consultation: Counselors consult with parents, other staff members, and community agencies to help students deal with and resolve personal concerns.

Educational / Preventive Programs

Students from each grade meet to discuss topics dealing with personal, social and developmental issues such as positive peer relationships, drug and alcohol education, ethical decision-making, stress and healthy coping strategies, and cultivating compassion for others. In both the Middle and Upper School, certain times are set aside for small and large group discussions, grade level meetings, and community meetings to delve into these topics. Student dialogue, interaction, and, as appropriate, facilitation of group process are integral to the success of these meetings.

Counselors are involved in planning Upper School orientation activities to familiarize new students with the Overlake campus and culture. Particular attention is paid to helping new students make social connections, navigate the academic environment, and identify norms of behavior. Counselors join with Learning Specialists, the Assistant Upper School Head, and Director of Diversity to present the Freshman Seminar at the start of the school year.

Building students’ relational skills is emphasized in the Middle and Upper Schools. Through community times, retreat activities, curricular support, and intervention with small groups and individuals, counselors work to increase student knowledge of boundaries, empathy, interpersonal respect, and ethics in relationships, digital citizenship, assertiveness, and other harassment prevention topics.

The ParentNet program is a parent-directed program designed to facilitate communication, promote networking, and foster mutual support among parents of the same grade level. The School Counselors act as faculty advisors for this program and at least one counselor is present to help facilitate each meeting. One meeting per grade level occurs each semester in the Campus Center. See school calendar for ParentNet meeting dates.

Parent Seminars are programs designed to provide information and resources to parents from parenting experts in our community. Evening seminars are scheduled to address various relevant parenting issues and are open to all Overlake parents. See school calendar for Parent Seminar details.

Our Department's Focus

In all programs and services, the focus of the Personal Counseling program is to:

To help students

  • Understand themselves and others
  • Develop communication, interpersonal, and decision-making skills
  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Develop coping/stress-reduction strategies

To help parents

  • Be aware of the various services available on campus
  • Learn and understand about their child’s growth, developmental needs, and experiences
  • Promote a home environment for emotional stability and personal growth
  • Learn about effective parenting skills through ParentNet and the experts invited to speak at Parent Seminars.

To help faculty and staff

  • Implement classroom and school-wide guidance activities
  • Better understand students, their behavior, and school culture
  • Suggest programmatic changes to enhance curriculum and student health
  • Cultivate a positive learning climate and meet individual student needs

Finally, among many other things, the Personal Counseling program aims to provide a confidential setting where students and parents may explore their ideas and concerns openly. As such, it is the sincere hope of the School Counselors that we may serve each Overlake family, and that each student may feel warmly welcomed to take full advantage of the services available to them.

For additional information, please stop by our offices in the library or contact us by phone or email.


Susan Essex

Director of Student Support


Haruka Kuga