Counselling at School

Welcome to parents/carers new to St John Paul II Catholic College, and welcome back to regular readers from previous years.

For those who don’t know, free confidential counselling is available here at school 5 days a week for students to assist them with a whole range of issues related to learning, friendships, peer relationships, family matters, handling strong feelings, risky behaviours – in fact, anything that’s concerning them.

Last year I was involved with about 1 in 7 students, either by talking with them directly or by working with staff, parents/carers, or other professionals to assist them. A tenth of those students were referred by their parent/carer. (The remainder were asked to come by school staff or referred themselves.)

We are all aware that many young people are dealing with mental health issues. It’s also clear that sometimes parents/carers are unaware when things are not going well. A survey which separately questioned young people and their parents/carers in their homes found that depressed kids were twice as likely to report that their parents/carers knew little or nothing of their feelings.

In secondary school, as young people are maturing and are able to make more decisions for themselves, and increasingly are protective of their privacy, parents/carers are not automatically contacted when a student comes to counselling unless the young person is at immediate risk of serious harm, but students are encouraged to let their parents/carers know they have seen the counsellor.

Students value the opportunity in counselling to talk freely without fear of offending anyone and in the knowledge that they will be listened to carefully and respectfully.

About a quarter of students want to talk about family issues at their first visit. Obviously if the young person is discussing their perceptions of family problems they may be less inclined to want their parents/carers to be involved.

Sometimes this reluctance is because they don’t want to give their parents/carers extra worries; in other cases they anticipate angry reactions.

Nevertheless, I find time and again that when students take the risk to raise matters with their parents/carers they get a much better reception than they expected.

Feel free to phone or come up for a confidential chat if something is bothering you about your child’s wellbeing. I look forward to hearing from you during the year.

You will also find helpful information on the school website (Current families > Counselling) about where to get help outside school for your child if that is what you prefer, and the site has previous ‘Counsellor’s Corner’ posts on topics relevant to wellbeing and teenagers today.

Upcoming opportunity: Understanding Anxiety for Students with Learning Challenges. This seminar from the Learning Difficulties Coalition is on Tuesday 27 March, 10 am – 12.30 pm at Castle Hill RSL. There is an admission charge. See


Martin Graham
School Counsellor