06 Sep 2022

Tuesday 06 September 2022

Youth counselling is a tough task, but for Graeme, it was a calling. The call had origins in his youth and became louder when he began a teaching career.

KC154 Socialmedia 2 Counselling Team

It’s been an understandably busy few years for the counselling team at King’s. School closures impacted students in 2020 and 2021 with the uncertainty of COVID-19 still looming in 2022. This year also sees a staff change for the counselling department with long-term head Karen Thompson moving into apart-time role.

Picking up the notebook as the new Head of Counselling is Graeme Martin. Graeme arrives with a breadth of experience and some new ideas on taking counselling beyond comfy-chair chats and into other areas of college life. Youth counselling is a tough task, but for Graeme, it was a calling. The call had origins in his youth and became louder when he began a teaching career. He looks back: “As an angry young man there was nobody that reached out in anyway that made a difference. Then, when I was teaching, I realised there were characters in my class with strong emotions and stuff going on that I didn’t have the skill base to deal with. I had a passion to be there for students who were at the same age as I was when making some poor choices and I don’t remember people being there for me. They were there, but I couldn’t relate to them because they didn’t appeal to who I was or what I was going through.”

Graeme shifted from Classics teacher to counsellor and worked as Head of Counselling at Macleans College for eight years. A Deputy Headmaster position followed at St Peter’s College before Graeme moved to Auckland Grammar to be Head of Student Services. More recently, he relocated to China, with his family, for a role at a new international school. After two years abroad he returned to start at King’s. Graeme now heads a three-strong team of counsellors including Cian Kerrisk and Karen Thompson.

Mixing counselling responsibilities with leadership positions hasn’t always been easy. “There are a lot of people who are superb counsellors including those around me. But it doesn’t lend itself to the cut and thrust of leadership in an organisation. You become very skilled at one-to-one and supporting people to take ownership of things. A leadership position is a skill base that you almost shy away from, so getting the right balance is difficult“, says Graeme.

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