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Who attends the Counseling Institute?

The Institute is designed for independent school educators and staff who have relationships with middle school and upper school students. This includes, but is not limited to teachers, advisors, deans, administrators, coaches, librarians, nurses, dorm personnel. “Counseling” has been part of our name since our founding in 1963, when there were not professional counselors in independent schools. We understand “being of good counsel” as learning to be a good skilled listener.

Is the Counseling Institute for counselors?

Not really. With that said, many independent school counselors who have attended have found it a valuable experience. If you are a counselor, and are wondering whether to attend, a conversation with Ellen Porter Honnet, our director, would be helpful.

What is the format? How many people will be there?

There will be approximately 65–75 attendees, with 6 Institute faculty members. Each day offers a combination of didactic/experiential presentations on major topics and a 2-hour small group meeting with 10–12 members and a faculty leader. The large group presentations offer time to engage in listening activities and other exercises. In small group, participants practice skills, bring up dilemmas at their respective schools, and become aware of what “gets in the way.” To allow for privacy and freedom to engage, participants from the same school are not in the same small group. Though there are large group sessions most evenings, there is also free time each day for rest, reflection, exercise, sightseeing, etc.

What are the accommodations?

Accommodations are in school dorms with shared bathrooms. There is no air conditioning in the dorms at either campus, though the dry air and cool nights in Fountain Valley make AC unnecessary. If you are coming to Brooks from nearby, you might bring a fan and small lamp. Towels and bed linens are provided. We make every effort to provide single rooms. Sometimes due to dormitory configurations and our participant numbers, we have to have some participants double up. If you would not mind having a roommate, please indicate that on your form when you are letting the school know your arrival plans.

Must I sleep on campus?

Yes. This is designed as a residential institute, and we encourage participants to savor the “retreat” feeling of being on campus with other participants. If you have folks to visit or other local plans, there is one night off that starts after small group at 3:30 pm until the next morning session at 9. If you have a special circumstance or questions, please contact Ellen Porter Honnet, the director, before making arrangements.

Do I need to be there for the entire Institute?

Yes. If something interferes with your full attendance, please wait until next year. We do understand that travel plans sometimes necessitate an early departure on the last day. In such circumstances, please alert your small group leader.

Are there accommodations if I need to arrive the night before?

Yes. Your room will be available, and breakfast is provided the next morning before our official 11 a.m. start.

Washers and driers?

Yes, coin operated.

Do I need to bring anything?

Toiletries. A small fan and lamp are useful, if you are coming by car and have room.

Are all meals provided? Do I need cash?

All but one dinner is provided in the dining hall. There is one free evening with buses provided for optional group trips off campus. That evening, the dining hall is closed and dinner out (or take-out delivered to campus) is at each participant’s expense.

Are there places to run and work out?


Is athletic equipment available?

For most sports, yes. And there is a swimming pool on each campus.