Information for Parents and Carers


What is counselling? 
Counselling offers people a non-judgmental space to discuss issues that are affecting their everyday lives in a safe and confidential setting. Issues explored vary according to each individual but usually can be linked to stress, relationships, change, loss and distressing/traumatic events. 

What is Arts Therapy? 
Arts therapy offers people a creative alternative to counselling. Art or drama is used as the primary means of communication to allow an individual an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential environment. 

What if my child refuses to have Counselling/Arts Therapy? 
Counselling and Arts Therapy can only take place when a child or young person is willing to engage with a therapist and as such sessions are attended on a voluntary basis. Children and young people are involved in the setting of aims for the work, deciding what they would like from their sessions and are involved in the evaluation process. 

What if I don’t want my child to receive counselling? 
If a child or young person requests counselling and is able to understand what is involved in the process, then they have the right to access counselling. Parents and carers may not deny them this right. Schools set up Counselling provision in a variety of ways. Some may choose to have an opt in / out policy which you may be informed of when your child starts at school. Others may contact you when a need is identified for your child. 

In Secondary Schools a young person has a right to access counselling/therapy without their parents’ consent or against their parents’ wishes if they are considered to be “Gillick Competent”. 

The Fraser Guidelines set out the criteria that should be met before practitioners provide a service to under 16s without parental consent – the assessment of young people against these guidelines is often referred to as assessing whether the young person is Gillick Competent. Our counsellors / therapists work, where appropriate, to help support a young person confide in their parents about them receiving counselling. 

How can I support counselling therapy? 
If your child attends Primary School you will be offered an opportunity to meet with the therapist to enable you to ask any questions that you may have. Whilst it is natural for you as a parent to feel anxious about your child accessing therapy showing an acceptance of the need for it can be invaluable in helping them to participate in the work. In addition allowing your child space to discuss the therapy if they wish to do so, without them feeling pressed into it, can also be very helpful. 

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-coordinators) 


Why have a counsellor in school? 
Like most of us children and young people can find that their concentration and / or behavior is affected when they are trying to deal with difficult issues. Allowing them a safe and confidential space to explore these issues can enable them to achieve their full potential both personally and academically. It can also help build a child or young person’s resilience and self confidence. By having a counsellor in a school children and young people can access support in a non stigmatising setting. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England’s (CRAE) ‘What do they know?’ report produced in 2009 suggests that more than three quarters of 1708 children and young people thought counselling services should be based in schools. 

How long will the counselling last? 
The Counselling in Schools Service works with children and young people for a minimum of a term to enable them to explore their issues in a way that will make a difference to them. If a child or young person feels they no longer want or need the work the sessions will come to an end. As we all have individual needs the length of therapy will vary according to the presenting issues. Two terms of work are offered as a standard length and any further work would need to be agreed by all concerned. If it is seen to be more appropriate a referral to an alternative service would be facilitated. 

When and where will it take place? 
The Counselling in Schools Service asks schools to provide a confidential space for the work to take place. Sessions last for approximately fifty minutes and take place during the school day. 

Is it confidential? 
A key feature of any quality assured counselling provision is that it is confidential. Counselling gives a child or young person a safe space to share their fears, worries or concerns and it is vital that they are able to develop a trusting relationship with the therapist if the work is to be successful. When a child or young person sees a counsellor or therapist for the first time they enter into a contract that makes clear that the only time confidentiality would be broken and a discussion shared is if the child or young person is deemed to be at risk of significant harm from him / herself or others. If this were to be necessary the therapist would look to obtain a child or young person’s approval where possible. Schools and parents can be frustrated by the boundaries of confidentiality as issues may be discussed between the child or young person and the therapist that they are unaware of. Some people can feel that knowing what is discussed may help them to better understand how the child or young person is feeling and therefore how they can support them. To encourage a child or young person to feel more in control of their situation a therapist will work to empower them to feel able to share issues that they are experiencing with the school or their families. They may also explore what they want the counsellor or therapist to share on their behalf.