Counselor Spotlight: Marcus Wade

On his Zoom call for his interview, Marcus Wade chose a playful virtual background with hearts, pizza slices, and music notes. It featured phrases like “Not blaming yourself,” “eating the food you want,” “keeping a journal and writing down your ideas.” Fitting tips for the teens he has been seeing virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I like counseling adolescents because I like their ability to adapt and absorb new information,” he said. “They make adjustments differently. They will trust in you and you can get a connection and a rapport. They gravitate toward change when they find a neutral person.”

Marcus started as a counselor with Next Step in September 2019. The Next Step program puts counselors on school campuses at no cost to the student, removing many barriers to care such as transportation and parents getting time off work.

Marcus sees students at Boulter Middle School, Three Lakes Middle School, Hogg Middle School, and John Tyler High School.

The issues he sees range from substance use, cutting, defiance at home, strict parents, abandonment issues, dysfunctional families, domestic violence, depression, anxiety. Thankfully he believes they are catching suicidal ideation early, he said.

Students who dealt with the death of a parent stuck out in his mind. He was impressed with how the students were able to deal with it after they opened up and talked about it.

“They have made the adjustments well,” he said. “They were able to talk through it. The biggest success is when the kid is willing to open up and talk through what they are dealing with.”

Marcus said that he appreciates the flexibility and trust that Next Step leadership gives to the counselors.

What does Marcus wish people knew about mental health counseling?

“That it exists,” he said with a chuckle. “And also that it’s contagious. When mom or dad are going through something, it affects the kids by default. Sometimes they don’t understand how impactful it is to kids. We have to be more conscientious with our lives as the adult but also aware of these kids’ lives through their transitions.”

Marcus believes in the program that Next Step offers, he said.

“I hope the awareness continues to spread throughout the school of the help that’s there for students who are going through difficult transitions,” he said.