Counselling offers young people a confidential space to explore feelings and experiences and gain a better understanding of themselves. It can also help a young person to make changes. The relationship established with the counsellor is important in establishing trust, respect and empathy. Within this relationship it becomes safe to share difficult memories or experiences and to accept challenges around behaviour and choices.
In this context feelings of fear, pain, self-doubt, loss, anger and confusion can be encountered in a way not possible by other professionals from a non-therapeutic background. Other professionals may share an understanding of the child’s view point but do not work directly on this emotional and psychological level to effect change.
Counsellors in school are also able to use their understanding of a young person to inform school-based approaches. They can also meet with parents to increase their understanding of their child and help answer questions or ease anxieties regarding their child’s emotional well-being and behaviour.
Counselling can be of benefit for pupils who:
- have a dramatic drop in their standard of work
- have low self-esteem
- have school refusal difficulties
- bully others, or are a victim of bullying behaviour
- are known to be sexually, physically or emotionally abused
- have difficulties due to family breakdown
- have peer group difficulties
- self harm
- misuse alcohol and drugs
- have been bereaved, suffered loss or separation or experienced trauma in their lives
- are subdued or over-excited, have marked mood swings, or behave out of character
Counselling can be delivered through half or full days. It is generally possible to see five children in a school day. Counsellors also offer ‘drop-in’ sessions and group work where appropriate. They are also part of our ‘critical incident’ response, offering support to schools following traumatic events affecting the whole school community.
Counselling is not time-limited but is responsive to need. The length of an intervention can vary considerably and is negotiated between the counsellors, young people and school-based staff. They work only with parental consent except in exceptional cases when they follow Gillick competency principles in line with the BACP code of ethics. All our counsellors are qualified to diploma level and are accredited, or working towards accreditation with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). They all receive regular clinical supervision and are professionally insured.