What is counselling and how can it help children and young people?
Counselling is an intervention that children or young people can voluntarily enter into if they want to explore, understand and overcome issues in their lives which may be causing them difficulty, distress and/or confusion. A counselling relationship has identified boundaries and an explicit contract agreed between the young person, counsellor and, where appropriate, parent or carer.
Good mental and emotional wellbeing is an integral part of children and young people’s holistic development. When this development is inhibited, counselling can be an effective and important resource.
The aims of counselling are to:
- assist the child or young person to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and their relationship to their world
- to create a greater awareness and utilisation of their personal resources
- to build their resilience
- and to support their ability to address problems and pursue personally meaningful goals.
What is school based counselling?
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) define school based counselling as: ‘a professional activity delivered by qualified practitioners in schools. Counsellors offer troubled and/or distressed children and young people an opportunity to talk about their difficulties, within a relationship of agreed confidentiality.’
How can school based counselling help children and young people?
Counselling can be beneficial in a number of ways, for example it can help:
• reduce the psychological distress that children and young people may experience as a result of facing a range of life difficulties, such as being bullied or experiencing bereavement;
• support young people who are having difficulties within relationships, for example, with family or with friends;
• young people who are having difficulty managing their emotions, such as anger; and
• as part of a graduated response to decide whether or not to put SEN support in place where difficulties are caused by events such as bullying or bereavement.
Many pupils report improvements in their capacity to study and learn following counselling and frequently report that counselling helps them to concentrate. Pupils also report an increased motivation for school and schoolwork. Headteachers and pastoral care teachers are also supportive of counselling in helping pupils to study and learn, particularly in facilitating the young person’s ability to concentrate in class, as well as increasing their attendance at school and improving behaviour. Evidence indicates that in secondary schools the most frequent issue that young people present to school based counselling, as recorded by their counsellor, is family issues. Anger is the second most common presenting issue, and is significantly more common for males, with about one quarter of all males presenting with this difficulty. ‘Behaviour’ is another common presenting issue at school based counselling; as are bereavement, bullying, self-worth and relationships in general. For the young people themselves, the most frequent goal they wish to work on when coming to counselling is increasing their self confidence.
Counselling Provision at Howletch Lane Primary School
We have a part time counsellor, Mrs Carol Gash, who has recently joined us. Carol works in school every Tuesday afternoon in order to support pupils in need of this service. Referrals are made by the children themselves, by staff members and parents and carers. Consent is always gained from the children and relevant parent/carers before 1 to 1 sessions are begun. Group sessions are also provided as some children will prefer this approach. If you think that your child will benefit from counselling then please contact the school to discuss this.