Nurturing Growth and Resilience Through Counselling

05/03/20247 minute read
Nurturing Growth and Resilience Through Counselling

Meet Jan Blair

Counsellor, Career Counsellor, Mediator, High-Performance Coach and CGA’s dedicated student counsellor.

Jan stands as a beacon of support and understanding for students navigating life and school. With a career spanning diverse roles from teaching to counselling and leadership, Jan brings a profound understanding of the unique struggles students face in today's educational landscape.

Her journey began as a primary teacher, later pursuing her degree online at Massey University, an experience that provided her with valuable insights into the world of online education. Following her time as a secondary school teacher, Jan assumed the role of dean, fostering a deep understanding of the challenges faced by students at different stages of their education. Eventually, Jan's career path took a unique turn into roles outside the education sector. From briefly serving as a deputy principal in Auckland to ultimately becoming the principal of one of New Zealand's largest independent schools, Kristin, Jan shifted her focus to the legal arena, working with a top law firm in New Zealand. In this role, she not only recruited young talents but also introduced a scholarship program and offered in-house counselling services, showcasing her commitment to holistic well-being.

About a decade ago, Jan established her own business, specializing in coaching high-performance individuals, including those in law schools and sports. This experience allowed her to develop workshops aimed at eliminating barriers to enhance top performance.

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Six years ago, Jan returned to her roots in Whanganui, reconnecting with Jamie Beaton, co-founder of CGA, who she knew when he was still a high school student. Recognizing the increasing need for a counsellor at CGA, Jan seamlessly integrated into the community, leveraging her deep understanding of students dealing with various challenges.

Jan's journey, marked by resilience and adaptability, uniquely positions her to relate to CGA students, who have to adapt to new cultures and new environments. Her wealth of experience equips her with a diverse set of skills to address the complex needs of the CGA community.

When asked, what aspects of student well-being she finds most fulfilling to address in this role, Jan answered that “it’s rewarding to see students flourish and overcome their challenges. And then you see them equipped with the ability and the skills we've discussed over time to work independently.”

Demystifying Counselling: A Safe Journey to Self-Discovery

Jan emphasizes the importance of dispelling preconceptions students may have about counselling. One significant misconception she addresses is the belief that counsellors tell students what to do. Jan assures students that her role is not to dictate but to provide a safe space for self-exploration. Confidentiality is also paramount.

"I want them to feel I'm not going to be intrusive. I'm not going to tell them what to do. It all starts with just getting to know each other."

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Navigating Academic Pressure and Stress

Dealing with stress and academic pressure is a common challenge for students. Jan identifies the fear of failure as a significant stressor. She employs practical strategies, including breathing techniques and visualization, to help students manage anxiety and perform at their best.

"It's about getting them to a peak performance level without going over the top. I give them a little kit bag that they can use for life," Jan shares, highlighting the practical and enduring nature of the skills she imparts.

Navigating Social Anxieties

By normalizing these struggles and working gradually to overcome them, she helps students visualize a path to connection; visualize yourself actually joining a club, talking to someone online, being one of the students in class saying hello, emailing them and initiating a catch-up.

“We're just going to share and work through the hurdles that make them feel unhappy, sad, lonely, scared… we look at what's the brick wall and how we're going to dismantle it.”

Fostering a Positive Environment

Jan underlines the significance of fostering a positive environment for students' overall success and happiness. Jan sees her role as a facilitator, creating a safe space for students to explore their challenges and triumphs.

"In life, we all need the support of someone who can be not emotionally involved with us," she emphasizes, highlighting the unique role of a counsellor as a guide in the journey toward success.

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Encouraging Happiness: A Personalized Approach

When asked about tips for happiness, Jan emphasizes the individual nature of happiness. She guides students through self-exploration, helping them define what happiness means for them. Happiness is different for every person. For some it could be finding a job, getting into a university or for others just getting along with their family.

"I love finding out what happiness is for them…It's about exploring, finding out where you are and where you want to go. Let's find solutions to the problems that are getting in the way," Jan states, underlining the proactive and collaborative nature of her counselling approach.

How counselling works at CGA

CGA offers three free counselling sessions, with further sessions determined on a case-by-case basis. Students can reach out directly to Jan via email ( or students can reach out to their deans to get in touch. Jan praises the incredible support provided by CGA deans, emphasizing their commitment to students' well-being. Deans understand the need for guidance and support in the counselling process.

Jan is not just a listener; she is a guide, providing invaluable tools and insights that empower students to navigate challenges, fostering an environment where their unique journeys can unfold. Through her dedication, students find, not just support, but a collaborator in their pursuit of personal and academic success.