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Huge need for school guidance counsellors in schools

Huge need for school guidance counsellors in primary and intermediate schools

Assigning school guidance counsellors to primary and intermediate schools would provide early intervention for children and families and help prevent some of the cases that end up with Child, Youth and Family (CYF), says a prominent school counsellor.

New Zealand Association of Counsellors spokesperson, Sarah Maindonald, says research from the Education Review Office shows clearly that children turn to school guidance counsellors as a first line of support in cases involving family violence, drug and alcohol issues and mental health problems.

“Counsellors are often the fence at the top of the cliff. We provide the support that can prevent the need for the ambulance at the bottom,” Ms Maindonald said.

She said counsellors in secondary schools are accessible to children who need to discuss issues about their personal lives.

“We are usually more trusted than other adults as the ERO research shows.

“If primary schools had access to counsellors, we could expect the same situation to develop there.

“Young students and families would have someone to talk to and receive support from, and that may stop them entering the CYF’s system.”

Ms Maindonald said ensuring good and frequent access to counsellors was important for young people, who needed to build trust before talking about ‘the real issues’.

“Often we find students in secondary schools will come to us to discuss something relatively minor and it’s only after a few sessions that they feel able to discuss the major issues that are affecting them.

“So by introducing counsellors at a primary and intermediate level, you are providing these young students with regular access to someone in whom they can establish trust and from whom they can get much-needed support if they have problems at home.

“This would also enable earlier intervention because the counsellor would be alerted to a problem and be able to work with and support families to resolve issues or, if necessary, pass on information to the relevant authorities.”


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