For Counselors: Introduction

Table of Contents

As you advance through each month of 5 Radical Minutes, additional content will become available.

Because counselors will often lead groups with youth who have specific issues (anger management, self-harm/cutting, etc.) we will continue to create prompts that meet specific needs. (We welcome your requests for topics!)

Because counselors have different needs and greater knowledge about social/emotional issues  than teachers, the prompts provided here don’t necessarily have to be used in order, unlike those for the classroom. Choose what you believe will work best given the needs of the group you are serving.


We are assuming that your goals in using this program include:

  • Knowing that each prompt will:
    • Offer a time-limited but effective means of youth checking in to the group and becoming present
    • Normalize kids’ feelings /thoughts as they listen to how similar others are
    • Provide healthy coping skills and solid alternatives to self-medicating and other maladaptive coping strategies kids are currently using
  • Providing the means for all youth to come to know one another as pairings rotate through the group
  • Creating or reinforcing a sense of community as students learn what they have in common with one another
  • Helping students examine relevant issues that support your group process, raising self-esteem and a sense of belonging
  • Bringing students who often feel isolated into the fold
  • Giving all students equal voice
  • Increasing respect, acceptance and compassion


Foundational Program Practices

Students are paired with new partners(including all adults in the room) continually so all get to know one another. Begin by reinforcing confidentiality; that what your partner says to you is to stay confidential. You might go into detail about why that’s important. You might also ask whether each believes they can and are willing to hold confidence.  If one is not, thank them for their honesty and point out that, although confidentiality is requested, students need to be aware that it is not yet a common agreement.

Program Basics

  • First two minutes: One person shares their response to the prompt and the other person only listens.
  • After 2 minutes: Switch roles and the listener now speaks in response to the prompt, not what the other person has said.
  • The final minute: Engage in conversation in response to the Connecting instructions.

Important Things to Remember

  • When it’s our time to listen, watch that we don’t reply and begin ordinary conversation: The listening and talking times are designed to be discreet.
  • Encourage youth to look at one another and have “soft and kind” eye contact. We want students to feel listened to, not stared at. Help lead some discussion about ways we can let people know we’re listening.


Below, find some helpful introductory thoughts for youth (keep the spirit of the message, but use your own words):

Here are a few ground rules as we begin to discuss issues and experiences:

  • We can talk about issues or experiences without naming or identifying other people who were a part of it.  Our goal is to understand the behaviors, but not to talk about other people. 
  • Confidentiality is about keeping people’s confidence or secrets.  We want this to be a place where we help one another get better – feel “weller” – and one of the worst things that can happen for us is if someone shares our secrets. 
  • We will have different partners each week when we do our sharing.  Sometimes that may mean that we’re paired with someone that wouldn’t be our favorite choice.  But each of us has something that could be a way of being a good friend for someone, and lots of times, we don’t know that until we have the chance to pair up.  Also, life is full of times when we have to work with or be with someone that isn’t our first choice.  This is a time to learn how to be understanding and supportive of everyone in the group.