Children, at some time during their lives, may experience emotional stress for many different reasons. This may require additional help and support. Difficulties may arise from breakdown of family or peer relationships, bereavement and loss, illness and disability, low self-esteem, behavioural difficulties, anger management, online related problems, generalised anxiety, sleep problems, to name but a few.
Emotional upset can manifest itself in a child’s behaviour at home and/or at school. A child may present as withdrawn, aggressive, unable to concentrate or participate in school/home activities. Relationships may suffer and the child may fall behind socially or educationally leading to feelings of inadequacy.
Counselling enables a child to express thoughts and feelings and to gain a better understanding of themselves and their situation enabling them to develop strategies to manage change. It can also help to raise self-esteem and a child’s sense of value leading to a return to more normal behaviour and performance. It serves the best interests of the child and the whole school community creating a culture within school that facilitates inclusion for all children.
Regular one-to-one counselling
Parents/carers are consulted if it is thought their child would benefit from counselling and, with their knowledge, the child will be referred by Mr Angus, the Inclusion Leader, and be placed on the waiting list for a session with Miss Owens the school counsellor. It is difficult to predict how long a child will wait, however, for more urgent cases priority will be given and "Talk Time" sessions will be available for the interim period.
Once a space becomes available a letter is sent home to parents/carers with relevant details and parents/carers are invited to attend the first session. Sessions continue until Miss Owens and the child feel they are ready to end. The child has the right to discontinue or refuse counselling at any time.
The sessions are 40 minutes long and are held weekly, in term time, at an agreed time suitable for the child.
The sessions are confidential and carried out in a confidential setting within school. What is shared during the sessions remains confidential unless there are issues relating to child protection in which case Miss Owens has a legal obligation to pass these on to the relevant child protection staff.
At times children want information passed on to others, e.g. parents/carers or teachers. Any information disclosed is done so with the child’s knowledge.
Confidentiality is a crucial element of the service as it offers the child an opportunity to talk knowing it is safe to do so. Children are able to share information about the sessions but do not have to if they don’t want to.
Talk Time is a 'drop-in' opportunity for children to come on an appointment basis during lunch break on Tuesday and Thursdays.
They are heard in a confidential setting and it is their choice, their appointment and their time. They may bring a friend if they choose to, and groups of children can come together.
Children come to talk about many different things that may be affecting them at home or school.
Appointments are generally made by children via post boxes around the school but can also be made by teachers, and/or parents/carers on their behalf.
Children can be referred on for regular sessions if it is felt necessary. As it is a drop-in service and on an 'as-and-when' basis, parental consent is not sought for Talk Time. However, if there any concerns parents/carers will be consulted. Parents are given the opportunity to withdraw their child from accessing this service.
Confidentiality applies to Talk Time in the same way it does for regular sessions (please see above).