Since she was introduced to rock climbing in high school, Sapphira Beaudin has not looked back, climbing rocks and mountains in Thailand and around the world. An adventure seeker, she admits to having a fear of heights, but abseiling and climbing in the great outdoors is too therapeutic to stop. In an interview with our Upper Loop student Ray, we learn more about our new Student Success Lead Designer.
Please tell us something about yourself and what do you hope to bring to the VERSO community?
I grew up in a Bangkok international school and continued my post-secondary studies in Canada. I met my husband, Steve during university and we have 2 daughters, ages 6 and 10. I have been a school counsellor for the past 16 years. I joined VERSO as I want to be a part of a small school community that values creativity and the child-centered approach to student learning and well-being. I also aim to share my pastoral and safeguarding experiences with the team whilst implementing community-based initiatives and activities.
What qualities do you possess that, in your belief, would make you a good counselor and how would you describe your counseling style?
I believe I am an open-minded and compassionate person and like to find solutions to solve a problem or puzzle. I have learned during my time as a school counsellor not to solve the problems for the students, but to work with the students to come up with solutions that would work for them.
I like to balance between Rogerian counselling skills by providing non-judgmental unconditional positive regard and Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) techniques so students can set goals that they want to work on or achieve. It is a process that students have ownership and control in and adults are available to guide and support.
Sapphira: I have learned during my time as a school counselor not to solve the problems for the students, but to work with the students to come up with solutions that would work for them.
"I joined VERSO as I want to be a part of a small school community that values creativity and the child-centered approach to student learning and well-being."
How would you help an Upper Loop student who is stressed about their future and current academic goals?
I would spend time listening to the student, then asking them what they enjoy doing and want to learn/be challenged by. I'm a firm believer that children and young adults need autonomy, competence, and connectivity to find their path and purpose in life. Sometimes, it is about empowering students to find their voice and make decisions that they feel happy and comfortable with.
What do you feel are the leading causes of mental health problems nowadays?
I believe isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on everyone but it has given us an opportunity to review what is important in life. I hope this process will allow us to reset our priorities. We cannot expect children to return to pre-pandemic achievements without patience and support from the adults around them. I am grateful that we are talking more about mental health because it is as important as physical health. I usually say to my students, if you had a wobbly knee or a painful tooth, you would get an x-ray or see a dentist. If something was bothering you emotionally, why wouldn't you speak to a trained specialist about it?
I'm a firm believer that children and young adults need autonomy, competence, and connectivity to find their path and purpose in life."
How do you practice mental well-being with your 2 children?
We like to keep balanced in our family: working hard and trying our best; staying active and spending time outdoors when possible (climbing, hiking, water sports); and resting and spending time with close friends and family. We have an open dialogue in our family where we can share the positives and negatives equally to brainstorm what works best individually and together as a family.
How do you build relationships with other mental health professionals?
I have been running the Thailand School Counsellor's group and a Private Practitioners' group for the last 16 years - it is important to network with fellow colleagues, share our experiences, learn from each other and most importantly, know we are not alone and lean on each other during difficult times.
What has been the most significant challenge you have faced as a counselor and how did you handle it?
Anytime there is an unexpected death in the community, it is an unbelievably difficult time for everyone involved. It is important to lean on each other through the grief and seek external therapy if needed. I have found talking to a trusted therapist to take care of myself before I can take care of others to be truly beneficial and I would encourage others to consider this option too.
What does your typical day look like?
I like to wake up early, have a quiet coffee by myself and exercise (hangboard and kettlebell). I find this keeps me physically and mentally ready for my day. Then I drop off my children to school and go about with my schedule, which can be quite unpredictable sometimes but I welcome the variation and uncertainty meeting students, staff and parents. Every night, we reflect on our day with gratitude (a habit we developed during the pandemic) and what we look forward to the next day.