Hello, my name is David Johnston and I am the Counsellor at Uplands School. I am part of the Pastoral Care Team whose job is to make sure all students are well supported during their time at School.
You already know that there are several supports available to you at school and it is likely that you will find your own good friends and favorite staff members who you can go to for help, support and guidance. In addition you and every other pupil has access to school counselling.
Why have a school counsellor?
Every student from kindergarten right up to Year 13 go through a lot of personal changes as they grow from childhood to adulthood. Alongside this, you are also managing school life, friendships, relationships, academic schedules and finding your own social identity. This means that sometimes you can be under a lot of pressure.
One of the aims of counselling is to make sure you are supported through any challenging circumstances you might have to deal with as you go through school.
Many young people speak to their parents, friends or relatives when they face challenges but sometimes for some people it is easier to talk about some things with someone more neutral.
What is counselling?
Counselling is a private conversation which provides you with an opportunity to talk about, think about and reflect upon any issues or challenges you are facing at the time so that you can figure out a way forward or find a solution which will work for you.
I believe that every young person has the resources to make positive changes for themselves when they need to. Counselling aims to allow you to access your own resources and abilities to solve problems so that you become more confident when you face similar challenges in the future.
What will a counselling session involve?
The first session will always be spent listening to you and getting to know you. I will most likely ask you about your strengths, skills, qualities, interests, ambitions, talents and all the good things about you. We will also discuss how things are for you in general. I will try my best to make each session as informal and comfortable as possible.
After the first session we will decide together whether counselling will be useful to you or not. We will also agree when to meet again and decide together what will be useful for us to work on.
Attendance is voluntary
Coming to counselling it is entirely your choice and you will never be forced to attend. If you do come I will take you seriously, treat you with respect and view your attendance as you taking responsibility for yourself. You will never be judged, criticised or stigmatised but you may be challenged to explore options, try new things and discover alternative ways of dealing with difficulties. When people face challenges it represents a strength to take the initiative and do something about it.
In very rare and exceptional cases you might be asked to come to counselling as a condition of your staying at school.
Counselling is confidential which means that you can speak to me about personal areas of your life without it being passed on to others including parents. There are, however, certain things that professionally I have to pass on to either school authorities or external agencies and these are usually to do with issues of safety such as disclosure of abuse, criminal activity, drug use, violence, serious health issues, etc. If you need to speak to me about something which you are afraid may be passed on you can discuss the levels of confidentiality before we start.
Why someone might wish to make an appointment?
There are several reasons why any student might want to make an appointment and they broadly fall under the following categories:
- Family / Friends / Relationships
- Managing school
- Managing self / managing others
- Substance management, awareness and cessation
- Confidence and self-esteem development
- Health and well-being (physical, emotional, sexual)
- Decision-making / confusion
- Anxiety and stress management
- Problem solving / solution finding
- Exam management / study skills / effective learning
- Performance enhancement (academic and sports)
- Behavioural / emotional support
Parents and teachers can also make a referral if they are worried about your wellbeing at school.