Pastoral Support & Wellbeing

Deptford Green School Counselling Service

The Counselling Service aims to provide a safe, non-judgemental space where individuals can relax and recharge, discuss their difficulties with a qualified counsellor, engage with and understand their psychological needs better and re-contact and develop their own psychological resilience. It also provides a resource of information and advice on a range of common psychological difficulties.

School based counsellors in the UK primarily offer humanistic or integrative forms of therapy. Clients tend to be referred to school based counselling through school staff, particularly teachers with responsibility for their social and emotional development (Pastoral Leaders, Head of year, Inclusion Team) - Self-referral rates are high and are over 40%. Waiting times for school based counselling tend to be very short: around half of all referrals are seen within one week, and the majority of the remainder will be seen in less than three weeks. The sessions offered is open ended with no maximum to the number of sessions offered (some children may only need a few sessions).

As well as students, the service is also available to parents and guardian as well as staff working within the school.

Students

  • One-to-one counselling and shorter term solution focused sessions
  • Self-referral service
  • Referrals from teachers and pastoral care leaders
  • 15 group sessions a week based different issues.

When young people experience life difficulties, like parental discord or being bullied, it can lead to a whole range of painful feelings, but the experience of having difficulties in itself can also lead to a range of distressing responses. Talking openly and honestly to a counsellor about their difficulties seems to do a number of things. First, it may help the young person move towards some solutions to their problems, and thereby reduce the distress caused by the problems. Even if they cannot easily do that, the counselling may help the young person overcome some of the ‘secondary’ feelings evoked by the distress. It may give them a sense that they are not alone with their difficulties, some clarity about what is going on for them, the opportunity to get things off their chest and stop ruminating, and greater acceptance of themselves and less shame. Learning to talk through problems with a counsellor also seems to help some young people develop the skills and confidence to open up to others in their lives and develop better relationships.

The key strengths of secondary school based counselling are its accessibility, and that its self-referral system.

Staff

  • Ad hoc consultation service for teachers, offering support and advice.
  • Support and advice on behavioural management, Safeguarding and Child Protection
  • Assist teachers in their guidance role

Parents and carers

  • Offer partnership sessions for parents and carers of young people receiving one-to-one counselling.
  • Offer one-to-one counselling for parents and carers
  • Themed group sessions for parents and carers, for example, smoking cessation.

Key Benefits

  • 90% of child protection disclosers are made through the in-house counselling service
  • Well established and perceived as a non-stigmatising and accessible by both staff and students, as it is seen as a normal part of the school provision
  • Forms a key element
  • Higher than national average of self-referred clients from BME
  • Fully integrated and supports the academic mission of the school

Outcomes

Demonstrable change in:

  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Improvement in attendance, pupil behaviour and disruptions in class
  • Positive behavioural changes towards learning resulting in improved academic performance.

Feedback from students

Students who have accessed the service state that they;

  • felt better prepared for the challenges of academic and personal development at school and in the outside environment;
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Were more adept in resolving and tackling emotional issues and other challenges that they were faced with.

Many pupils’ improvement’s 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.

Ms Claudia Reid

BACP accredited counsellor