Brien Dolan spent his career assisting students and now he’s giving a helping hand to parents and educators.
The long-time Campbell River resident is a retired high school counsellor and school psychologist who has just authored his own book, “From School Life to Real Life: How a high school counsellor’s experiences will help parents, teachers and teenagers.”
“There are a lot more pressures on kids today,” he says. “Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, it was pretty clear cut what you had to do.
“Today, it seems there’s less involvement from parents, and kids seem less involved academically – they have all these electronic gadgets that interfere.”
Dolan’s book is not a 327-page rant about cell phones and handheld devices. Rather, Dolan relates some his own experiences and advice through the fictional character of Bob Gordon, “a school counsellor who is a trustworthy and experienced professional who has dealt with the whole gamut of critical issues that parents, teachers and teenagers in stress confront.”
Dolan started his career as a teacher in northern B.C., returned to university to get a Masters in psychology and came to Campbell River in 1974 to teach at the “alternative school.”
That turned out to be Carihi Secondary where Dolan helped start an after-school peer counselling program. He was also involved in setting up one of the first confidential teen hotlines in B.C.
“The teen hotline was a real rush,” he recalls. “Every year we would train 40 to 50 kids to man the lines.”
In 1989, he also helped organize the first dry grad celebration and remembers when the band Trooper showed up to play and brought along a whole lot of booze.
“No, you can’t do that!” he remembers telling them. “But they put on a great concert.”
Dolan believes its more difficult to teach in today’s classrooms, but the role of the teacher is constant.
“The job of a teacher is to be a coach. We determine how high we set the bar and when to ratchet it up,” he explains.
After retiring from the local school district, Dolan went to work as a clinical counsellor in private practice. Now “mostly retired,” he’s passing along his knowledge.
“There’s some pretty serious stuff when you’re dealing with teens,” he says. “They may look adult in their 15-year-old bodies, but sometimes their brains are still like an 11-year-old’s.”
n To learn more, or to order a book, visit www.briendolan.com or visit the Facebook page “Author Brien Dolan.”