What is counselling and how can it help children and young people?

Counselling is an intervention that students 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 well-being is an integral part of children and young people’s holistic development.  The aims of counselling are to: assist the student to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and their relationship to their world; to build their resilience; and to support their ability to address problems and pursue personally meaningful goals.

How can school based counselling help children and young people?

  • 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.

Students report improvements in their capacity to study and learn following counselling and frequently report that counselling helps them to concentrate and have increased motivation for school and schoolwork.  Counselling assists students to study and learn, particularly with concentration, as well as increasing their attendance at school and improving behaviour.

Bradford District PRU uses counselling to complement and support other services.  The key areas are:

  • as a preventative intervention. School staff, parents or carers, or other adults close to the child or young person may identify that there are signs of behavioural change (for instance, drug and alcohol misuse, or dis-engagement with learning).
  • for assessment purposes. Qualified counsellors can provide an assessment of a child or young person which includes an assessment of risk, and identify with them an appropriate way forward, including considering goals which they may want to achieve (which may be to do with any aspect of their lives).
  • as an early intervention measure. Children or young people themselves, or the adults around them, might identify a problem and refer them to counselling. A counsellor will work with the child or young person to help them address their problem(s) and reduce their psychological distress;
  • a parallel support alongside specialist CAMHS. Some children and young people may attend counselling while they are also attending specialist mental health services.
  • a step down of intervention when a case is closed by specialist mental health services. Sometimes, when a specialist mental health service intervention is completed, a child or young person may attend counselling within school as a further support.

Is Counselling Confidential? 

Harry Stoyles
Harry Stoyles
  • Ensuring confidentiality between the student and counsellor is crucial to the success of the relationship and the outcomes of counselling.  Students who have not experienced counselling services is that others will be informed about what has been discussed in sessions.  Our counsellors take time to explain about the limitations of confidentiality and that concerns are only passed onto the Designated Safeguarding Lead in school if there is a concern that a student is at risk of significant harm.
  • Child protection concerns and the welfare of children and young people will, at times, need to take precedence over confidentiality.