Increasing relevance of counselling in schools

Increasing relevance of counselling in schools

Children often need help coping up with difficult situations. In such cases, school counselling can go a long way in repairing the damage and promoting healthy behaviour, says Sonia P Thomas.

There is a growing body of research indicating the psychological and emotional problems of school-going students. Most of these researches uncover the student’s distress, their problems in decision-making process, problems in facing daily hassles, challenges of the school system, exam anxiety and so on.

Even if the research provides adequate information regarding the complex challenges faced by the students, very few parents and teachers encourage students to seek
self-help.

As a result, many of the students are unable to face the challenges and cope with the realities especially during the exam and post-result period. Today, most of the schools have school counsellors, but the students are uncertain or not encouraged to explore the various possibilities available to them.

Role of parents and teachers

Promotion of counselling in schools is not necessarily the counsellor’s job. However, it does require the encouragement of parents and teachers for the growth of the students.

Many parents and teachers are confused about counselling in the full sense of the word and how it can help students to live better.

Parents and teachers at all levels, need greater skill and sensitivity to scrutinise the problems relating to students. But when confusions arise in analysing their problems, they need to refer them to the school counsellor who is professional and trained within a clear framework of understanding.

There could be many ways in which parents and teachers as a whole, could work toward promoting counselling in schools. However, the starting point must be the acknowledgement of the problem and a willingness to seek help.

Parents and teachers need to provide secure and unthreatened information regarding counselling to their students, and encourage them to talk about their feelings, both in terms of their understanding and the reality.

Students need preparation and an innate confidence to take up counselling. They should be clearly explained about the need for counselling and its many benefits.

A possible reason for parents and teachers to downplay the need for counselling is due to the societal worries associated with it. It is often seen as a prerogative for poor learners or
problematic students.

Although those in responsibility acknowledge that young people are at risk of developing mental health problems, many are reluctant to seek professional help fearing the negative reaction from people, and being judged as crazy or foolish.

Additionally, students would be tagged as weak and teased by their peers. The fact is, even the most competent counsellor can do little in this situation. It is only the parents and teachers who can address the appropriateness of counselling to students.

The affective school

Very often, students who face problems on their minds have many negative traces such as lack of concentration and reduced motivation to do school work, to attend classes and have trouble with attendance.

They have trouble in performing in tests and exams, and behavioural difficulties in class. Some even misbehave in class and argue with teachers, and it leads to
difficulties in relationships with them.

These realities highlight the need for schools to initiate strategies in counselling that assist young people to seek help at this crucial time of their development.

Affective school does not just concentrate on the academics, but seeks to
provide more opportunities for each student to develop their potential and grow emotionally.

School is a venue for offering preventative programmes. The school is also seen as the front line for the recognition and referral of students with major needs in the area of mental health to counselling services.

School counselling services have a variety of benefits that range over a wide spectrum of areas:

Better concentration: The major impact of counselling has been in increasing
students’ concentration. Counselling provides a space for students to talk about their problems.

Hence, they need not think about it in the class, thus increasing concentration. Moreover, problem resolution or getting advice on the problem from counsellors help students to stop thinking about the problem too much, which in turn can increase concentration.

Enhanced relationships with teachers: Counselling can enhance the relationship between students and teachers. Students are able to control their temper and not get into arguments with teachers.

They are enabled to understand teachers’ point of view, and are also encouraged to talk to them about their problems.

Increased motivation to attend school: Counselling motivates students to attend school, especially if the problem is resolved through counselling. School life becomes a joyful experience and not a burden any more. 

Improved enthusiasm to work: Students feel motivated to do schoolwork after counselling. The preoccupied mind is refreshed and that state of mind energises them to complete various tasks at school and home. They feel happy that they could concentrate in class and that further motivates them to achieve more.

Better performance in tests and exams: Students perform better in tests and exams as a result of counselling. This is due to the better concentration they gain through open sharing and resolving of the problems.

Increased participation in class: With all their problems affecting them, some students are not interested in attending the class.

However, this can be changed after counselling. Students can feel love and warmth of the classroom environment after an open sharing with the counsellor.

Healthy behaviour: Just as counselling promotes better relationships with teachers, it helps to improve behaviour in class by making students more in control of their anger; taking responsibility for their actions and understanding others’ points of view.

For school counselling to prosper, collaboration between school counsellors, parents and teachers is paramount. By and large, teachers and parents are the key adult figures in the life of a student.

They are the most significant figures, be it positive or negative. Parents and teachers are a
vital link in the amalgamation of affective education into the curriculum. They are the first helpers in the school counselling programme and are the referral sources for students in need of additional assistance.

Thus, parents’ and teachers’ support and participation are very vital to counselling of students.

In addition, they are also valuable sources of information for assessment and evaluation. Their input is vital to understanding the needs of a student as well as the effectiveness of the school counselling.

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