“Adolescents are not problems to be solved, but wonderful resources to be explored and celebrated.” (Michael Resnick, 1999)
The Development of Counselling Services
In the early 1990s, the St Monica’s College staff clearly identified the need to support and promote students’ emotional wellbeing in a direct way. While teachers in the classroom had a wellbeing role, it was determined there was a place for a non-teaching position whose sole focus was the wellbeing of students. In response to this need and on the initiative of the Principal, the counselling service was established in 1994. Over the years the service has grown and is now an integral part of the Student Wellbeing Faculty.
The services include:
- Individual, confidential counselling sessions for students
- Support for teachers in their work with students
- Professional learning for staff
- Availability of the Counsellors/Psychologists for parent inquiries and concerns
- Parent support programs and seminars
What happens in Counselling?
During adolescence, young people often experience many new challenges in their lives, which may include issues with their families, friends/peers, learning difficulties, self confidence, bereavement, anxiety, stress, depression and many others. The role of the Counsellor/Psychologist is to support students through these challenging times, by assisting them to identify their issues and to develop appropriate strategies and action plans to cope with or resolve these issues. The counselling process works best when the adolescent is actively involved in coming up with solutions to his/her own problems via structured discussions and activities with the counsellor. Counselling often has a homework component designed to help the student maximise the strategies/ideas gained from the sessions.
Students can make appointments with Counsellors/Psychologists and do not require permission from their parent/guardian in order to do this. However, students are encouraged to tell their parents they are seeing a Counsellor/Psychologist and to discuss their issues and progress with their families. Students are given an appointment time that is usually during class but may also be before school, at lunchtime or after school, as agreed. The class teacher signs the appointment slip before they attend the appointment.
Student or parent involvement with Counsellors/Psychologists is offered in the climate of confidentiality. Ethically, confidentiality cannot be maintained if, in the professional judgement of the Counsellor/Psychologist, the student is seriously at risk of harm or poses a risk to themselves or others. In such cases families and /or relevant professionals are notified. This notion of confidentiality and its limits is clarified with students prior to any formal counselling sessions.
The Varied Work of the Counsellor/psychologist
The role of the College Counsellors/Psychologists means they are involved with many groups across the whole school, assisting to identify and meet the wellbeing needs of the College. The Counsellors/Psychologists:
- are members of the Student Wellbeing Faculty, and are involved with sub committees that work on areas of curriculum, pastoral programs and school policy concerning wellbeing.
- support teachers with their work in the classroom, assisting with programs or offering advice about particular students.
- work closely with the Educational Support Faculty in supporting students with learning difficulties and/or social and emotional challenges.
- The College Counsellors/Psychologists both conduct and offer support to many different programs that operate in the school.
- They develop and deliver of student programs
- In the area of parent education, the Counsellors/Psychologists offer evening seminars usually covering topics such as transition from primary to secondary school, adolescent development and other areas of interest to parents.
- The Counsellors/Psychologists are also able to speak to parents on the phone or in person to discuss issues of concern about their children.
- The Counsellors/Psychologists provide professional learning to the staff in areas such as loss and grief, behaviour disorders, managing discipline issues and learning difficulties, bullying, resilience and optimism.
- They also organize guest speakers to come to the College to explore topics of interest.
Referral to Other Agencies
The Counsellors/Psychologists may recommend referral to an outside agency when they are unable to provide the specialist help required by the young person or family, or when a local agency offers particular programs or support that will best meet their needs. The Counsellors/Psychologists are familiar with the local services for families and young people, and are able to provide information about them and/or to make contact on the family’s behalf. Some of the services offered include specialist counselling, financial advice, youth activity programs, support groups, parenting courses, family mediation and therapy.
CONTACT TELEPHONE NUMBERS
The College Counsellors/Psychologists work from both the Davisson Street and Dalton Road campuses. The Contact number is 9409 8800.