Guidance for Accessing Counselling / Arts Therapy


When can Counselling / Arts Therapy be helpful?

  • When parents are going through divorce or separation and there are signs of changes in behaviour/distress 

  • When there is evidence of a behavioural change such as becoming withdrawn or disruptive 

  • Following the death of a family member or a friend 

  • When there is knowledge or suspicion of some form of abuse or domestic violence 

  • When there are difficulties with friendships and/or bullying 

  • When a child or young person is new to the school, area or country and is having difficulty     settling in or integrating 

  • When a young person is angry, erratic or shows mood swings or signs of possible depression 

  • When there are identity issues i.e. gender, cultural 

  • If there are health or disability issues such as life limiting illnesses 

  • When a child or young person refuses to engage with specialist services. 

Counselling can be used very effectively as an early intervention strategy to prevent the deterioration of a child or young personÂ’s emotional health and well-being. It can enhance a pupilÂ’s self-esteem and enable them to cope more effectively within a school setting, both socially and academically. 

The more entrenched the issues that a child or young person is dealing with the more difficult it is for counselling to be used as a preventative measure. It can mean that a longer, more intensive piece of work is required or a child or young person may be less inclined to engage with the therapist. 

Who is Counselling/Arts Therapy not appropriate for? 

  • Children/Young People who do not want to/do not understand why they are attending 


All therapeutic work is dependent on a child or young person engaging with the process and as such it is important a child or young person understands why they are being referred for therapy and that they are willing to participate. 


  • Children/Young People requiring a specialist mental health assessment or diagnosis 


Counselling in Schools Service therapists do not carry out mental health assessments, diagnose or prescribe. If during the course of Counselling/Arts Therapy specialist mental health needs are identified therapists are able to support schools in accessing specialist services as and when appropriate. 


Where a school identifies a pupil/family who will not engage with specialist mental health services CISS is, where appropriate, able to work in partnership with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health services) to ensure that an intervention is delivered to support the child or young personÂ’s emotional/mental health and well-being. 


Children and Young People receiving therapy from another service 

The Counselling in Schools Service will not usually work with a child or young person who is receiving a therapeutic intervention from another service. This is an ethical decision taken to prevent any confusion for a child or young person and avoid any possible ‘contamination’ of work. On occasion as part of a therapeutic package being offered by CAMHS we may work alongside one another to support a child or young person and their family but this work would be delivered within clear boundaries 

What should we have in place before we set up Counselling/Arts Therapy in our school? 
In order for an effective, quality assured therapy service to be established the following need to have been identified within a school before work can begin: 

  •  Accommodation for the therapist: A fit for purpose room for delivering the therapy needs to be available e.g. one that is the same each week, comfortable and private but not isolated. 

  • A referral process: Schools need to consider if a child or young person will refer themselves to the Counsellor/Arts Therapist or if referrals will be managed through someone in the school e.g. Head Teacher or SENCO. The service can advise on setting this up. 

  • Referral criteria: Where a process will be put in place for referrals to be managed it is helpful to consider what criteria will be used to identify pupils who are most in need of Counselling/Arts Therapy. It is also helpful to have this in writing. 

  • A named Child Protection Liaison Officer: This is vital in ensuring any disclosures arising from the work are taken forward in line with Bedfordshire Safeguarding Board Child Protection procedures. This relationship will also be used to feedback any non-confidential strategies that may support the school in working with the child/young person e.g. child/young person needs ‘time out’ after therapy. 

  • A process for gaining Parental Consent (Primary Schools): A range of options exist that the service can advise on e.g. sending an opt out letter to all parents before work begins. Counselling/Arts Therapy works best when it is supported by a parent/carer and as such therapists working within Primary Schools will offer to meet with Parents before the work begins. 

How are referrals made to the Counselling Service? 
Each school chooses to operate the Counselling in Schools Service in a way that best fits the needs of its pupils. Usually referrals to our therapists are made by: 


  • Self referral 

  • Pastoral Team 

  • Head / Deputy Head 

  • SENCO’s (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) 

No work can be undertaken without a school providing a signed Service Request form or a copy of a Common Assessment Framework (CAF). In Primary Schools parents are asked to sign the form as a means of giving written parental consent to the work. Most secondary schools allow their pupils to sign Service Request forms in place of a parentÂ’s signature as a means of allowing them to access counselling confidentially.