New Counselors Make Impact on Rockbridge County


Maddie Dahl , Reporter

Mental health has been a main focus in the modern world ever since COVID-19 struck in 2020. Mental health affects relationships, daily life, and physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, since 2020, 75% of people that go to counseling have benefited from it. 

To some people, the word “counseling” has a negative connotation, even if receiving help from a counselor only has benefits.

New RCHS counselor Mrs. Michelle Kirby gives thoughts on the counseling system.  

“There is a stigma associated with mental health, which makes people less likely to reach out for the help that they are looking for,” said Kirby.

School counselors are available to RCHS students to help with many things. For example: scheduling, transcripts, college applications, and scholarships. These things alone provide RCHS counselors with a heavy workload, especially at the beginning of each school year.  

“Definitely in the first couple weeks of school, the counseling part of my job is on the back burner and so the focus is more on schedules and getting everyone settled into their classes,” said Kirby. 

Once everyone gets back into a rhythm, the counseling aspect of being a school counselor takes place. Students have the opportunity to talk directly with their school counselor, or they can ask to be directed to a different office outside of RCHS.

One of the biggest obstacles for students is finding a counselor that is right for them. Everyone wants their feelings to be validated and at the same time receive good advice on how to deal with things going on in everyday life. 

“I’ve had a lot of students that have known me through the classroom come directly to me because they feel comfortable enough to talk to me,” said Kirby. 

However, if a student does not want to talk to their school counselor, there are other options. In Rockbridge, many small and privately owned counseling offices are available for high school students. 

Just recently a new counseling office in Rockbridge County, Mountain Creek Counseling, was opened up by Susan Bedell. She offers “walk and talk” therapy, as well as online therapy sessions. “Walk and talk” therapy is where the client and counselor connect while taking a walk through nature together. 

“Usually, I send kids to Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, but there is a draw for going outside of Rockbridge,” said Kirby. 

Many people want to take their business to a different city or town because of privacy. Outside of the county, there are counselors who are willing to Skype or have Zoom Meetings for people who are not able to make the drive. 

Counseling doesn’t have to be a burden; it is a resource to take weight off of your chest. Communication has been a key part of human life since the beginning of time. Talk to someone who has the resources to validate your feelings.