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Being able to read another's emotions is a key to empathy and empathy is a large building block of respect and working well with others. When you can identify the feelings of others it is often easier to know how to communicate, work together and get what you want. (Don't be discouraged if you don't get a lot right; this is not an easy task! And remember, identifying other people's emotions is something you can improve.)


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Counseling Locker

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Counselor's Corner

S.O.S. (Signs of Suicide) Survey

All 7th graders who participated in the S.O.S. presentation in November are kindly asked to complete the following survey by following the link below. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes and would really help Ms. Avakian tailor the presentation for next year. Thank you, students and teachers!






Wecome Back Students! Welcome Ms. Thews!

Niguel Hills Middle School would like to welcome Ms. Lauren Thews who will be at Niguel Hills on Mondays and Thursdays for the entire school year. Ms. Thews is a second year graduate student at Chapman University where she is studying for a Master of Arts in Counseling. Ms. Thews past experience includes working at Mission Viejo High School where she facilitated classroom presentations on college and career information, ran counseling groups and counseled students individually. At NHMS Ms. Thews will continue to give classroom presentations, run groups and see students individually. 


 Please join me in welcoming Ms. Thews. Feel free to say hi to Ms. Thews to show her our Ohana spirit!



Niguel Hills Middle School makes every effort to provide support services for your children that will assist in their successful academic, social and emotional growth. To promote these efforts, Niguel Hills Counselor, Lori Avakian, provides classroom guidance and short term individual and group counseling.

Ms. Avakian is available to assist students with any social or emotional difficulties that are impeding academic achievement.  Discussions between Ms. Avakian and students are confidential. Feel free to call the front office at 234-5360 or email Ms. Avakian if you would like to speak with her or have your child meet with her.

If you are a student and would like to speak with Ms. Avakian stop by the main office and complete a Student Counseling Request Form. Ms. Avakian will be contacted and will speak with you as soon as reasonably possible. The Student Counseling Request Form is also available in the Counseling Locker on this page. Print it out first, complete it and turn in to main office.

Counseling Services

  • Individual and Group Counseling
  • Stress Management
  • Anger Management
  • Social Skills / Peer Relations
  • Problem Solving / Decision Making
  • Social Skills
  • Goal Setting / Time Management
  • Communication
  • College and Career Awareness

Classroom Guidance


Wouldn't it be great to if there was a way to protect your middle school student from risky behaviors such as bullying, aggression, and substance abuse while improving his or her school success? Fortunately, research shows there is a way to do just that.

This year I will be in our classes more often using a curriculum called Second Step. The Second Step program focuses on skills that will help your student succeed in school and in life. This skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Perspective Taking
  • Respectful Disagreement
  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional Management
  • Problem solving

You play a vital role in helping your student develop strong social skills. During these next few months, the focus of the lessons will be empathy, communication and problem solving. Ask questions about the skills that your student is learning, such as:

  • "How do you show someone you're actively listening to them?"
  • "What are some ways you can be an ally to someone?"
  • "Why should you try to understand other people's perspectives?"

If you have any questions about the curriculum please do not hesitate to contact me for more information. Thank you for supporting your student in learning the skills that lead to success in school and in life.


Conflict Mediation


Students, If you are having a problem with another student you can request a Conflict Mediation. A Conflict Mediation is when two people who are having a problem sit down with a neutral person (in this case the Counselor.) Each person tells their side of the story and then they each make a plan so that the problem is solved or won't happen again. There are a few key rules for a conflict mediation:

  • each person must be there willingly
  • they must agree to solve the problem
  • no insults or put downs, no interruptions
  • keep the mediation confidential

If you would like to have a conflict mediation please complete the Counseling Request Form in the office. Learning how to solve problems appropriately is a skill that you will benefit from your whole life!


Parent Consultation

Information on Community Resources


Ms. Avakian

Photo on 8-25-15 at 1.45 PM.jpg


Bachelor of Arts, Brown University

Master of Fine Arts, State University of New York at Albany

Masters Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University

Pupil Personnel Services, School Counseling, National University


2001-Present School Counselor at Niguel Hills MS.

2000-2001 LMFT at Western Youth Services, Laguna Hills, CA

2001-2002  Adjunct Professor, Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology

1998-2000 MFT Intern, CUSD. Provided counseling for elementary and middle school students.

1996-1998 MFT Intern, Mariposa Women & Family Center, Orange, CA




Non-Discrimination Statement

The Capistrano Unified School District prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying in all district activities, programs, and employment based upon actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, color, religion, ancestry, nationality, national origin, ethnic group identification, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, pregnancy, age, physical or mental disability or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Reference: AR 1312.3, BP 1312.3 and BP 5183.

Rich Montgomery, Executive Director, Human Resource Services/Compliance
33122 Valle Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-9200

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