What is Counselling?
Counselling in school is a way of supporting young people with issues that are affecting their everyday lives, both in and out of school. Our counsellors work with a wide range of concerns including anxiety, stress, bereavement and loss, self-esteem, relationships, self-harm and bullying. Counselling is based on the building of a trusting relationship between the counsellor and their client. It can help young people to talk about what is going on to make them feel the way they do and to make sense of it. It provides a safe and supportive place for young people to express difficult feelings and where appropriate, learn how to manage them in a more positive way. Counsellors are trained to listen thoughtfully and carefully to young people without judging or criticising them. They do not give advice, but support their clients to make positive decisions for themselves.
Is it confidential?
Anything discussed in counselling sessions is treated confidentially. Counselling is a time when it is possible to talk about concerns without fear of them being discussed elsewhere. Ensuring confidentiality of the work is crucial for establishing trust so that children and young people feel confident to speak openly and freely about what is concerning them. This includes not discussing the work with school staff or parents, unless the child or young person requests or gives consent for this; accessing counselling is also confidential. Good practice involves a partnership with parents and the counsellor will always encourage a young person to explore how they could be supported in informing parents about counselling if this is appropriate and in line with their wishes.
However, if the young person or someone else appears to be in danger of any serious harm, it may be appropriate to seek help from other professional agencies to keep them safe. The counsellor would aim to discuss this first with the young person concerned and will always be working in the best interests of the young person.
All professional counsellors receive supervision of their work to ensure the quality of their practice and this is also confidential.
Who are the School Counsellors?
Our counsellors are all registered members (or working towards registration) of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the body responsible for issues of professional conduct and work within their Ethical Framework, a professional Code of Ethics.
Fiona Harding, Counselling Service Manager, is a professionally qualified counsellor and supervisor with extensive experience of working with children and young people.
How are referrals made to the Counselling service?
Referrals may be made through Mrs C Knott, Head Of Resources and Senior Leadership Team Link for the School Counselling Service. The request may come from you, a staff member, another professional or your child who can self-refer.
What if I don’t want my child to receive counselling?
If a young person in secondary school requests counselling and is considered to be “Gillick/Fraser competent” then they have the right to access counselling independently. It is always preferable that your support is given for counselling but you may not deny your child access to counselling if they have sufficient maturity and judgement to fully understand what is proposed. Seeing a counsellor is entirely voluntary and therefore it will ultimately be your child’s decision. The Service Manager would prefer that you support the work and will be happy to talk with you about any concerns that you may have about the idea of counselling. Counsellors will always take into consideration how to balance young peoples’ rights and wishes with their responsibility to keep them (or someone else) safe from serious harm. Where a young person is not considered to be Gillick/Fraser competent, parental consent will usually be sought from the person holding parental responsibility; where a parent/carer refers or is aware of proposed counselling for their child, this will be deemed as giving consent.
What if my child says private things about my family?
It is understandable that you might feel worried about what your child may wish to talk about in their counselling. However, our counsellors are not here to judge you or anyone else in your family; their sole purpose is to help your child to manage their problems in a way that helps them achieve their full potential and build their resilience and self-confidence in a positive way.
Can I ask my child about the counselling sessions?
Experience shows that the most helpful thing a parent/carer can do is to show an acceptance of counselling as a normal and useful activity. The counselling relationship is very private and personal and each child will respond differently to it. Some children may wish to talk about the sessions, while others may wish to keep the content of the sessions to themselves. It is important to be guided by your child and to respect these individual differences. There may be times when your child seems more upset following a counselling session and this may be because they have been talking about painful feelings. Showing sensitivity to their distress, while also respecting their right to privacy is a difficult but important balance for parents or carers to achieve. It is hoped that the counselling relationship will lead to greater openness with parents and families but this can take time to happen.
Can I contact the Counsellor to find out how things are going?
The counsellor has a confidential relationship with your child and has a duty to them not to share any information without their agreement and/or knowledge. If the counsellor has any serious concerns it will have been explained to your child that the counsellor will have to share that information with another professional person/agency. For more information, if you have any serious concerns, or if you would like to contact the Counselling Service Manager, please contact Mrs C Knott, Senior Leadership Team Link for the School Counselling Service, at John Colet School.