POLICY - COUNSELLING SERVICE
V02: Published June 2021 Date for review: May 2022
The Parent/Guardian Role in Counselling
Record Access & Note Keeping
Continuing Professional Development
Signposting for Staff
Relevant Protocols & Policies
Appendix A: Online School Counselling Provision Protocol
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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 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 The counselling service provides a confidential, safe, nurturing and personalised approach for students to explore difficulties they may encounter that complements the pastoral support within the wider school community
A student can refer themselves to meet with one of the Counsellors by: ❏ Emailing them directly ❏ 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). 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. However, 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. 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.
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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 Houses 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/Prep-House Leader/Counsellor etc). Lower School students are supported by their Class Teacher/Teaching Assistant/Year Group Leader in the event of such need.
Counselling should take place somewhere: ❏ Safe, private and welcoming to help students to get the most out of it; ❏ Free from distractions or interruptions. 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 to learning is minimised. 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.
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Ensuring 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. While Counsellors are used to working within confidentiality codes, they are aware that there is no such thing as absolute confidentiality when working with children and young people. Safeguarding concerns and the wellbeing of children and young people will, at times, need to take precedence over confidentiality. The Counsellor should explain confidentiality and its limitations at the start of a counselling relationship and, if necessary, will regularly remind the child or young person of these limits as counselling progresses. Confidentiality issues will also vary according to the age of the child or young person and whether they are considered Gillick competent: Gillick competence 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) Where they are not, and this will apply to most primary age children as well as to some of secondary age, parents or guardian’s consent will need to be given before they access counselling. However, the consultation itself should remain confidential, subject to any safeguarding concerns. 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. Counsellors will discuss difficult decisions about disclosures with the Wellbeing Lead and, if appropriate, the Designated Safeguarding Lead. If they think anyone is at risk of significant harm they should report this immediately to the Designated Safeguarding Lead in line with the school’s Safeguarding Policy.
THE PARENT/GUARDIAN ROLE IN COUNSELLING
Parents and guardians form the cornerstone of the wellbeing of a child or young person. The school always seeks to establish positive and co-operative relationships with parents/guardians so that each student is fully supported and able to thrive. However, as above, the school is not required to seek parental permission nor inform parents if counselling is taking place if the student is deemed to be ‘Gillick competent’. Gillick competence will be assessed by the counsellor in the initial session.
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A student being able to speak to a Counsellor without their parent/guardian’s knowledge or consent is also important for safeguarding reasons; parents who are abusing a child are unlikely to grant permission for them to meet with a Counsellor. In many cases, the Counsellor may decide that it is beneficial if the parents/guardians of a student are aware of the issue the student has so that they can support the student. If the student agrees to this, then the Counsellor will discuss the issue with the parents, within the limitations placed upon them by the student, again subject to safeguarding concerns.
RECORD ACCESS & NOTE KEEPING
The Counsellors have access to the school’s management information system (ENGAGE) and the safeguarding/wellbeing monitoring system (CPOMS). Sessional notes made by the school Counsellors will be kept centrally on CPOMS and will only be visible to each individual Counsellor. Notes will include: ❏ A brief summary of issues discussed; ❏ Actions agreed/taken if any; ❏ RAG rating (red, amber, green ‘traffic light’ system as a visual way of highlighting the level of wellbeing and/or safeguarding concern/need/risk). This data will only be accessed by the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Wellbeing Lead (also Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead) if needed due to an emergency (such as serious and significant student issues or if the counsellor is incapacitated) or a safeguarding concern relating to the counsellor. Additionally, anonymised student data will be collated for analysis purposes and, on occasion, sharing with governors.
10.0 REPORTING The Counsellors meet with the 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. The Wellbeing Lead is the link to the counselling service and provides regular communication between that and the pastoral care team by meeting weekly with the Director of Houses to discuss students of serious concern.
11.0 EXTERNAL SUPPORT 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 is 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 Harrow International School Bangkok Counselling Service Policy Page 6
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.
12.0 SUPERVISION Counsellors are required to have regular clinical supervision via an external provider. Clinical supervisors should be qualified therapists with sufficient experience and understanding of children and young people and of the school setting. Clinical supervision is 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)
13.0 CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 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
14.0 SIGNPOSTING FOR STAFF 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. 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. The Counsellors will maintain a record of the number of staff that access this signposting service for information purposes only.
15.0 RELEVANT PROTOCOLS & POLICIES Safeguarding Policy Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Policy
16.0 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; Harrow International School Bangkok Counselling Service Policy Page 7
❏ Referrals to the Counsellors can be made in the same way. ❏ Bookings: ❏ Initial sessions will be coordinated via email between the School Counsellor and student (or parent/guardian if a Lower School student). ❏ After each session, the School Counsellor will arrange the time of the following session with the student or parent/guardian and this will be confirmed via email. ❏ The student’s Class Teacher, Tutor, Co-Tutor, and Head of House will also be notified of this by email. ❏ 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. ❏ 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. ❏ 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.
17.0 REFERENCES 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.
18.0 POLICY REVIEW This policy will be reviewed every year. This is so that it remains up to date, useful, and relevant. In between reviews, it will be updated when necessary to reflect significant changes across the school etc. Policy:
Counselling Service Policy
Original held here:
Dr K. Adjei (School Wellbeing Lead)
ELT and School Wellbeing Lead
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Frequency of Review:
Review Due By:
Reviewer to enter initials and date for updates pre-review:
August 2021: MR;KA
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