COUNSELLING SERVICE - POLICY - HS29 1
PURPOSE AND AIMS
The School recognises that good mental and emotional wellbeing is integral to children and young people’s holistic development and, when this development is inhibited, counselling can be an effective and important resource. The purpose of the counselling service is to provide a professional, confidential, safe, nurturing and personalised approach for students to explore difficulties they may encounter that complements the pastoral support within the wider school community. Good practice dictates the use of a clear contract to explain to children and young people the boundaries of confidentiality a school counselling service can offer. Children and young people should not be offered levels of confidentiality that cannot be kept. The aims of counselling are: ● To assist students 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 help build their resilience ● To support their ability to address problems and pursue personally meaningful goals
A student can refer themselves to meet with one of the Counsellors by: ● completing the online ‘Speak to Someone’ form that is available either via the ‘useful links’ tab on Engage’s Pupil Portal or via QR codes on posters around the school. (This form also gives students the option of speaking privately with their Tutor, Prep House Leader or Head of House). ● If a student cannot access the portal they should speak with their pastoral team in the first instance. ● If the need for counselling is urgent then the student should attend the health centre in the first instance. 2.2 Staff and parents can also recommend that a student meets with a counsellor and can contact the Counsellor directly or suggest this through the student’s Class Teacher/Tutor/Head of House/Prep House Leader. 2.3 It is important to remember that counselling is only likely to be effective to the extent that the student wants to attend. There may be some individuals who do not want to undertake counselling, even where the school considers that they would benefit from it, and alternative approaches should be considered. There will however be times (such as where a student is of significant concern of harm to themselves or others) that counselling will be stipulated. Additionally, if a safeguarding concern is raised, a Counsellor may be requested to speak to the student concerned. Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 1 of 9
Students may also be required to attend counselling in order to enable reflection on their behaviour in a supportive, non-disciplinary setting in the following situations: ● They have been identified as exhibiting bullying behaviour towards others (in line with the schools’ Anti-Bullying Policy) ● They have been identified as taking (or at risk of taking) drugs or other harmful substances (in line with the school’s Drug and Substance Abuse Policy)
The Counsellors will also meet with groups of new students at the beginning of each academic year, to introduce themselves and inform them of the counselling service available. Where the child is not Gillick competent*, and this will apply to most primary age children as well as to some of secondary age, parents or guardian’s consent should normally be sought before they access counselling. However, under the Mental Health Act B.E. 2551 (A.D. 2008), counselling may be offered to the student without the parents’ consent.
The Counselling Service does not offer a ‘drop-in’ facility for students. Any Upper School student that experiences a change in their emotional wellbeing during the school day requiring urgent attention or assistance may attend the Health Centre which is continuously staffed by the school Nursing team. The Nursing Team will assess for any immediate needs the student may have and in turn contact the Heads of House/Prep House Leaders team who will attend the Health Centre to triage the students’ emotional needs and support or signpost them appropriately (e.g. meet with them themselves or refer to their Tutor/Co-Tutor/Counsellor etc). Lower School students are supported by their Class Teacher/Teaching Assistant/Year Group Leader in the event of such need.
COUNSELLING ENVIRONMENT, SESSION STRUCTURE AND RESOURCES
To help students to get the most out of counselling, sessions should take place somewhere: ● Safe, private and welcoming ● Free from distractions or interruption Counselling takes place in one of the three dedicated counselling offices across the school. Two of these are located on the ground floor of the main Senior School building and the other is located on the first floor of the Prep building. The student needs to feel comfortable with their Counsellor; a switch between Counsellors can occur at student request. Counselling sessions last up to 60 minutes - the length of one school period - and take place during the school day. Appointments will be scheduled at a convenient time for the student and scattered throughout the timetable as much as possible to ensure one subject isn’t compromised and the impact on learning is minimised.
4.3 4.4 4.5
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 2 of 9
A student who has a counselling appointment will be notified of their time by an email that is sent by one of the school’s administrative staff. The email will also cc in the student’s Class Teacher (and for Upper School students; Tutor and Co-Tutor) of the lesson that takes place when the appointment is scheduled for. Counselling offered is open-ended; no minimum or maximum number of sessions are specified. Some students may only need to attend for a few sessions whilst others may need support for much longer. The Counselling Service tries to meet the needs of all students but there may be times when there is a large demand on the service and this may result in a waiting list. Counselling resources (books, leaflets, etc) are available in the counselling area located in the main Senior School building.
Ensuring a degree of confidentiality between the student and Counsellor is crucial to the success of the relationship and the outcomes of counselling. A frequent concern raised by children and young people is that others will be informed about what has been discussed in sessions.
What limitations are there to confidentiality? 5.2 While Counsellors are used to working within confidentiality codes, there is no such thing as absolute confidentiality when working with children and young people. 5.3 Whilst it is recognised that confidentiality is an important element of building trusting relationships with students, a child or young person’s wishes about confidentiality are overridden by the paramount duty to protect their safety or welfare. Such a duty requires information to be shared with a very select group of staff leading the pastoral care of the child. 5.4 It is the counsellors’ responsibility to explain to students clearly and periodically exactly what this means in practice. Breaching confidentiality. 5.5 The counsellor will at the outset of working with a child or young person make it clear to the young person that they may need to breach confidentiality (ie tell someone and seek support)and, if necessary, will regularly remind the child or young person of these limits as counselling progresses.. 5.6 The counsellor will explain it may happen when the young person or any other person (adult or child) is at risk of harm. 5.7 The counsellor will discuss this again with the young person if the need arises, and, if the child is “Gillick competent”*, seek to gain their consent to disclosing concerns. 5.8 The counsellor may make disclosures without the child or young person’s consent in appropriate circumstances. The counsellor must follow the school’s Safeguarding Policy and record in CPOMS appropriately. 5.9 Where possible, the counsellor will keep the child or young person informed and involve them in the process. In the case of a young person being at risk of suicide or self-harm, information must be shared urgently, in accordance with the Safeguarding Policy, overriding confidentiality. Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 3 of 9
5.10 The counsellor is not required to pass on information about a young person breaking a school rule or committing an offence, unless it could be deemed that by withholding information the counsellor was aiding and abetting a crime (eg a young person dealing drugs in school), or placing the child or young person or another person at the risk of harm. 5.11 *Gillick competent, whereby young people under the age of 16 years can consent to treatment if they have sufficient maturity and judgement to enable them to fully understand what is proposed. “As a general principle it is legal and acceptable for a young person to ask for confidential counselling without parental consent providing they are of sufficient understanding and intelligence.” (Gillick v West Norfolk AHA, House of Lords 1985 5.12 Counsellors will recognise when they need to encourage children and young people to share with their parents, guardians and/or certain staff at school what is being discussed. 5.13 Counsellors will discuss difficult decisions about disclosures with the relevant Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and Wellbeing Lead(WBL). If they think anyone is at risk of significant harm they should report this immediately to the relevant Designated Safeguarding Lead in line with the school’s Safeguarding Policy.
REPORTING, RECORD ACCESS & NOTE KEEPING
The Counsellors have access to the school’s management information system (ENGAGE) and the safeguarding/wellbeing monitoring system (CPOMS). As per the Safeguarding Policy, it is essential that counsellors report all appropriate detail through CPOMS. See Appendix B. Counsellors background notes will be kept centrally on CPOMS in designated counselling areas and will normally only be visible to each individual Counsellor though the Designated Safeguarding Focal Point, Designated Safeguarding Lead or Wellbeing Lead may access them as required. This data will only be accessed by the Designated Safeguarding Focal Point, Designated Safeguarding Lead or Wellbeing Lead if needed due to an emergency (such as serious and significant student issues or if the counsellor is incapacitated for example) or a safeguarding concern relating to the counsellor. Additionally, anonymised student data will be collated for analysis purposes and, on occasion, sharing with governors.
The Counsellors meet with the relevant DSL and/or Wellbeing Lead on a weekly basis to discuss those students presenting in counselling with the highest level of wellbeing and safeguarding needs/risks. This provides an oversight of work undertaken and ensures effective communication and prioritisation of students. Those students with the most significant safeguarding and wellbeing considerations are also discussed at the weekly Whole School Case Conference.
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 4 of 9
Some students may require support beyond the realms of what the School can offer as it is not a specialist physical or mental health facility and at certain points, must rely upon external professionals for advice, guidance and treatment. There are a wealth of external specialist professional support available to students in Bangkok by means of Medical, Psychological and Psychiatric input. Each professional will have different areas of expertise and best fit will be based on individual need. The School Counsellors and Wellbeing Lead can advise and guide as to which and who may be best for supporting an individual student’s needs, signpost the student and their family and liaise with the external support as necessary. On occasion, the School may have safety concerns about a student’s mental health and wellbeing and level of risk to themselves/others, sufficient to direct that they receive external assessment and support for their mental health and wellbeing. If this is the case, the School will require evidence that this has taken or is taking place. If time absent from School is required for this to take place, evidence determining fitness to return to School via a medical certificate will be required prior to any return.
SUPERVISION AND CPD
Counsellors are required to have regular clinical supervision via an external provider. This will be chosen by and paid for by the school. Clinical supervisors will be qualified therapists with sufficient experience and an understanding of children and young people’s psychological needs and, preferably, of the school setting. Clinical supervision will be focused on: ● Ensuring safe and effective practice ● Providing support and advice as necessary ● Providing session observations for professional development and appraisal purposes (these may only take place with the permission of the student whose session is being observed) Counselling without supervision is unethical and will compromise the quality of the work. Continuing professional development opportunities will be made available. Counsellors receive Level 3 Safeguarding training every two years to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
SIGNPOSTING FOR STAFF
10.1 Promoting staff health and wellbeing is a priority for the school. As part of the whole school approach, staff can access a maximum of two sessions with the Counsellors for the purpose of signposting (giving details of organisations that may be able to help them) to services outside of school. 10.2 Information that is shared in such sessions will be kept confidential unless any significant safeguarding concerns arise, in which case the Counsellor will discuss with the Wellbeing Lead and Designated Safeguarding Lead to agree on appropriate next steps.
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 5 of 9
10.3 The Counsellors will maintain a record of the number of staff that access this signposting service for information purposes only.
Approval and Review
Associated Group Policy
Add Policy Ref, Name and Link to relevant Group Policy if applicable (http://portal.aisl-edu.com/public/home)
Key Staff/Groups consulted during policy development
Director of Houses
Shared via the internal staff portal only
Next Review Date
Related policies and Documents (to be read with this Policy)
Delegated Procedures and Processes Approval and Amendment History
Safeguarding Policy Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Policy The counselling support provided is based on the UK DFE Guidance ‘Counselling in schools: a blueprint for the future Departmental advice for school leaders and counsellors’. February 2016. Links here
Original Approval Authority and Date
Principal Deputy Head, (MRe) August 2021;
Amendment Authority and Date
KA 4/2/2022; Dir HR 31/03/2022
Feedback on policy content can be made by emailing the approval authority
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 6 of 9
APPENDIX A: ONLINE SCHOOL COUNSELLING PROVISION PROTOCOL
In addition to the information contained in this policy, the following protocol applies to the provision of counselling in the event that the delivery of school lessons moves to the online platform 11.1 Referrals to the Counsellors must be made in the same way. 11.2 Bookings Bookings should still be made through the online portal booking page. The student’s Class Teacher, Tutor, Co-Tutor, and Head of House will also be notified of this by email. 11.3 Session conduct Sessions will be scheduled within normal school hours to ensure access to appropriate additional support if needed. School Counsellors will conduct all Zoom counselling sessions from school counselling rooms or if conducting from home, will be positioned in a private space ensuring there is a neutral background. The video function will be turned on. During sessions, students should be in a room where they can have privacy and also ensure that they sit with a neutral background behind them. Students should have the video function turned on. Counselling sessions remain confidential within the bounds of the School Safeguarding Policy. 11.4 Record keeping Records of online counselling sessions will be kept in the same way that records of face-to-face sessions are kept (electronically on CPOMS). Sessions are not video-recorded. 11.5 Safeguarding In line with the School’s Safeguarding Policy; ‘The reporting mechanisms for safeguarding remain exactly the same online as offline. Staff with any concerns should report them to a Safeguarding Officer or to the Designated Safeguarding Lead using CPOMS to do this.’ In the event of a student disclosure, safeguarding protocols will be followed according to the Safeguarding Policy.
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 7 of 9
APPENDIX B: Mandatory Reporting Obligations for Harrow Bangkok School Counsellors
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of school counselling practice. However, as stated in the above policy, a child or young person’s wishes about confidentiality are overridden by the paramount duty to protect their safety or welfare. Such a duty requires information to be shared with a very select group of staff leading the pastoral care of the child. The information below is intended as a resource for Harrow School Counsellors to understand when they are required to report information to the Pastoral Safeguarding Team following the reporting procedures set out in the Safeguarding Policy. This resource may not be exhaustive. Failure to meet these requirements will result in disciplinary action as a minimum response and termination of employment as a maximum response. 12.1 Reporting disclosures made during Counselling Sessions Counsellors must report disclosures made during Counselling Sessions when: a. In the course of practising or carrying out duties of a School counsellor they form a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer physical or emotional harm, a report must be made as soon as practicable after forming the belief and after each occasion on which they become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief. b. The need to follow reporting procedures is rooted in our duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It may be assumed that the need to safeguard children will always take precedence over the child’s right to autonomy and to confidentiality. The counsellor may feel conflicted when a young person makes a disclosure, but does not want it to be acted upon, is also owed a duty of confidentiality. This is explicitly recognised as a problematic issue. A decision whether to disclose information may be particularly difficult if the counsellor believes it may damage the trust between themselves and the student. In such situations, the counsellor should explain the problem to the relevant DSL or DSFP and be instructed by them. The counsellor must then explain the reasons to the student if it is decided that they must act against a parent or child’s wishes.
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 8 of 9
12.2 Mandatory Self-Reporting Another requirement of being a Harrow School Counsellor is self-reporting certain events to the School (to the relevant DSL and Director of HR) The following is a list of items that Counsellors must disclose to the School:
a. Any situation in which the Counsellor feels unable to deal with a particular matter effectively and professionally due to their own personal circumstances or history. b. A finding of guilt in relation to any offence in any jurisdiction. c. Any current offence charges or bail conditions. d. A finding of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity (or any similar finding), made by another authority in any jurisdiction. e. Any current proceeding for professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity made by another authority in any jurisdiction. f. A finding of professional negligence or malpractice in any jurisdiction. g. A refusal by a regulatory body to issue a registration to a professional association or a licence. h. Any resignation or revocation of a registrant’s licence with another authority in any jurisdiction, and whether the registrant’s licence was in good standing at the time. i. Any other event that would provide reasonable grounds for the belief that the individual will not practise counselling in a safe and professional manner. j. Change of name or contact information. 12.3 Reporting Concerns About School Counsellors In some situations, a person is required to report information to the School about a School Counsellor. These mandatory reporting scenarios include: a. A regulated health/other professional has reasonable grounds to believe that a School Counsellor has sexually abused a client; b. A person who operates a facility where a School Counsellor practises has reasonable grounds to believe that the counsellor is incompetent, incapacitated or has sexually abused a client; c. A relationship with a School Counsellor has been terminated for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity; d. A colleague, including another School Counsellor, has reasonable grounds to believe that a School Counsellor has practised unsafely or not within agreed policy and procedures.
Harrow International School Bangkok is committed to the safety and protection of children. All staff and visitors are expected to comply with our safeguarding policy and procedures. Page 9 of 9