Supporting schools to support families
Supporting Schools to support families.
‘Time for You’ young people’s counselling service is one of the many services provided by Relate (Rugby & N.E. Warks) Ltd. Relate is a National Charity and has many centres across the Country all providing relationship support for families, couples and young people. Lynne Hunt describes the school-based counselling support and explains how they are increasingly targeting younger students.
This article in a nutshell…
The Relate counselling service in Warwickshire has developed a service called ‘Time for You’. Based in 20 Warwickshire secondary schools it provides a service aimed at students. The service is available to young people aged 10-18, for either one full day or half a day per week at the school. It is flexible and has evolved in each school differently to fit the needs of different contexts. Regular contact is maintained with those students in need and attention is also paid to delivering the purpose of Time for you across the school and addressing any generic issues that arise. A focus groups has been developed that helps the service to improve, for example through the production of a DVD. Consideration is now being given to the extension of the service for younger pupils.
The Relate Family Support Team
The Relate Family Support Team provides a comprehensive and flexible counselling service to suit the needs of all family members. The team incorporates and works alongside the existing relationship service that has been available to adults for the past 60 years, giving us our core understanding in working with relational issues that we are known for.
Our counsellors, whether supporting an individual, couple or family enable those people to identify choices for change and supports them during this process. One theoretical base that we use is family systemic counselling. This considers patterns of behaviour and explores new ways of communicating, helping individual’s and families understand how they may be stuck in a particular way of communicating, and how by doing things differently their family can bring about positive changes for all involved.
The overall purpose of counselling is to help the individuals & families feel ready for their future and fully equipped to cope with new challenges. Counselling can be provided for a couple of sessions or long term, if the person or family require the support. All our counsellors receive one-to-one and group supervision to ensure they are providing the best support possible for their clients.
Time for You
Time for You Young People’s Confidential Counselling Service was established in 2001 as a pilot project based at Harris Secondary School in Rugby.
In June 2006 we were awarded the tender from the Children’s Fund and Children Adolescent Mental Health service (CAMHS) to deliver the service to as many high schools that asked for it creating a new partnership with Health, Education and the Voluntary Sector. Since then the service has grown significantly and we now support students within 20 secondary schools across Warwickshire, as well as continuing our service within our Rugby Centre.
School based Counselling Service
The service is available to young people aged 10-18, for either one full day or half a day per week at the school. Being school based has enabled us to assist more students who are in desperate need of support. That support may be needed for a variety of reasons: because of separation and divorce, building new relationships with step parents or step siblings, conflict within the family, experience of domestic violence or abuse, or a loss of a family member. Referrals are only taken with the knowledge and consent of the young person involved.
Our School based counselling service has proved there is a huge need. We have seen over 1,000 students since September 2006 and the feedback we receive from them as well as parents and teachers is extremely positive.
“It has really helped me. My counsellor was really nice” – young person
“I can’t believe the difference in my son, he is a different child, thank you.” – Parent
“It has proved a really good service. The feedback we are getting is very, very positive. I think if we had someone here three times a week we would be able to fill the appointments.” – teacher at local school
Each school co-ordinators the service differently, consequently, we are flexible and accommodating to the schools’ individual needs. Whether this means we provide small group work instead of a counselling session, complete the schools referral forms or move rooms, we always ensure consistency is maintained within the school and for the clients. We also challenge any situation, which could jeopardise the counselling sessions.
We do pride ourselves on the work we are able to achieve and the additional support we can provide schools. Alongside our normal relational work, counsellors are seeing young people who present with suicidal thoughts, self harm, bullying concerns, drug & alcohol misuse, as well as other family and communication issues.
Within the schools, we encourage our counsellor and school link teacher to have regular weekly contact. It is essential this relationship is maintained and is effective as it is the core element of a successful service. Our counsellors work extremely hard to ensure these relationships are positive and are extremely pro-active within their schools to promote Time for You, not just to students but also to school staff and parents. This is achieved through assemblies, tutorials, induction days, health days, parents’ evenings, PHSE workshops and staff training days.
Although Time for You is a young people’s counselling service, counsellors try and get involved in as much as they can within the school community. This is definitely being recognised from the positive feedback we are receiving and although schools do not encourage self referrals we are seeing more and more peer referrals, which speaks volumes about Time for You!
In order to help us provide the best service possible for young people, we have a Time for You Focus Group. This group of young people consists of current, previous and non-users of counselling and they help us develop and improve Time for You. One of their most recent ideas was to create a DVD to help challenge the negative stigma attached to counselling and to also encourage young people to access the service.
‘Life’s not a Game Show’ DVD, took approximately three months to produce and starts with close-up shots of the focus group members talking about counselling. It then moves on to a quiz show format where the quiz host asks questions about counselling, however, all the contestants get the answers wrong and it’s up to the quiz show master to correct them.
In order to help pay for the DVD the focus group members applied to the Warwickshire’s Youth Opportunity Fund and successfully were awarded £5,250. This has paid for the production and printing costs of the DVD and will also go towards the development of a Time for You website.
As well as being busy with the writing, creating and filming of their DVD, the group also successfully achieved the Warwickshire Participation Award for Bronze level. They are now busy working towards Silver!
In October 2007, our counsellors are starting a Certificate in Play Therapy course. This will further enhance their skills so they can work more effectively with younger children. This fits with the need to offer preventative services at a younger age and also sits well within the Enhanced Support Services, which is currently piloting the Common Assessment Framework within Rugby.
We hope that Relate will continue to be able to take an active part in helping schools, both primary and secondary, meet several of the outcomes around the Every Child Matters Agenda but especially the outcome around ‘Emotional Well being’.
For further information about any of our services please contact Lynne Hunt on Rugby 01788 565675 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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