A Conversation With Your Counselors: Hobbies, Mental Health, Life

Rabinovitz and Adams recount their journeys of becoming counselors, how their lives have changed since

Nya Manneh, Staff Writer

When it comes to her job, Counselor Jill Rabinovitz believes that the relationships she fosters with students, families, and coworkers are the most important part of her work. Rabinovitz has worked at Blake for 8 years and can gladly say that she enjoys every minute.

Rabinovitz discovered her love for psychology after taking a class at SPA and later developed her skills in college. She says, “I think as a young person, I was very emotionally intuitive and liked helping others, and so it was natural for me to think about how to help people move into more comfortable places in our lives.”

Rabinovitz understands that assessing mental health is imperative for all ages: “I think it’s very important that we take care of ourselves and learn how to do that at a young age.”

She recommends “reaching out to me or Ms. Adams as a starting point. For those who are looking for resources outside of school, we are more than happy to give those suggestions or to have conversations about what might be going on. Pediatricians are also great resources for people that are maybe within insurance coverage for that family, and just talking to your peers and talking to caring adults, whether itís in school, at home, or with your family.”

Knowing how important it is for people to get help as soon as possible, Rabinovitz says that “for me, I wish that I could connect with more students, because Ms. Adams and I introduce ourselves in Health Class in 10th grade, and it’s always hard for me when I meet a senior who was like, “I didn’t even know we had a school counselor!” So I’m always thinking about ways that we can do more outreach and just reach more people.”

She knows that one of the most important misconceptions about mental health is the stigma surrounding it. She emphasizes that “stigma is a really hard thing because many people donít want to identify with mental health issues, and even if they are struggling, don’t talk about it as openly as maybe they would as if it were a physical condition…They are brain based conditions, and it’s okay to seek help.”

Outside of her job, Rabinovitz practices personal health and self-care by utilizing the resources around her. Naturally, she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends, and her pets are always a great source of comfort for her and her family. She says that “my kids, Sig and Brooke. keep me busy when I am not working! After a long day I like to get outside and walk or workout and I enjoy cooking and baking.”

Now that she spends all of her time at home, her work days look a little different: “My days are filled with Zoom meetings, but I love that I still have the opportunity to meet with students, my 11th grade advisees, and see my colleagues in meetings.”

Overall, despite being stuck in quarantine again, Rabinovitz has learned to make the most of what she has, and she hopes to be able to help other students do the same.

Erin Adams, Director of Counseling and 19 year employee at Blake, likes to stay involved in the world around her, whether it be with students, her family, or the news. She loves meeting intelligent and honest students willing to seek support to better understand themselves and their environment.

Adams imagined becoming a counselor ever since high school: “I was someone who always considered myself, or was considered to be a good listener in high school. I was kind of in that role, and very much enjoyed [it]. I also had some friends in childhood and high school who had really significant mental health challenges.”

Because her own school lacked mental health resources, Adams knew that a career in school counseling was something that she wanted to pursue. She explains, “In college, I ended up changing my major 5 different times,” before finally choosing psychology.

Adams believes it’s critical to address mental health, especially at early ages. She says, “Even if you’re not someone who necessarily identifies as having a ‘mental health struggle,’ … it doesn’t mean you don’t work to maintain it or address it or foster it.” She explains, “Very often people would have what’s sometimes referred to as functional depression or functional anxiety where you can be doing all sorts of great things, you can be doing well in school, you can be participating, you can have friends, you can be on sports teams, you can be externally successful and still feel and experience those symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

With students at home now, Adams understands that they may feel especially lonely, and she hopes that they can find a way to feel the sense of community and joy that they would get from actually being at school. Those are values that she also practices everyday for herself and her family. Her day to day routine is motivated by enjoying the little things.

She enjoys running around Lake Harriet, hiking, and binge watching Netflix shows like “Ozark” and the latest season of “American Horror Story,” which she says “is totally bringing me back to my own high school years, minus the camp serial killer.”

With her now remote schedule, Adams fills her days with Zoom meetings. She says that “some students find Zoom meetings easier as they donít have to make the sometimes scary decision to walk into the counselor’s office for the first time, or they get to meet from the comfort of their own home. Others don’t feel they have enough privacy for such meetings. But for the most part, I am still seeing a good number of students every day.”

Having worked with students for so long, Adams understands the common struggles of everyday life and has found ways to help both herself and others de-stress and live a full life.