Counselling is offered to all learners in need of support, as it is sometimes just not possible for children to work through tough times alone.
What do counsellors actually do?
1. School counsellors help children cope. They work with children to find good solutions. School counsellors can give tips and support on solving problems and making good decisions. Counsellors can give children tips on standing up for themselves if being bullied, managing stress, talking to their parents, and dealing with anger etc.
2. School counsellors can refer children to outside resources such as substance abuse treatment centres, professional therapists and even health clinics.
3. They offer basic short term supportive counselling (individual counselling).
4. Psycho education and training (for parents, teachers, and the learners)
5. Promotion of primary psychosocial well-being.
6. General screening
7. Guidance and support for learners, teachers, and parents.
8. Career / learning advice and guidance.
Signs to look out for:
There are various signs to look out for and/ or to identify a child that may need counselling. Some of these include:
· Major changes at home or in other areas of a child’s life can create stress that may necessitate counselling. For example, a death or divorce in the family.
· Sudden changes in schoolwork, behaviour and choice of friends, all of which can be early signs of emotional distress.
· Changes in daily habits – Sleeping or eating problems etc.
· Withdrawn behaviour. Withdrawn children have little or no interest in playing or being with friends. They want to be by themselves instead of being with friends or adults. They want to stay alone all the time. They don’t laugh, joke, or enjoy anything they are doing.
· A lack of concentration
· Returns to younger behaviour – Bed-wetting, thumb sucking etc.
· When a child shows frequent and extreme mood swings, there may be some underlying trouble. Losing one’s temper easily and often is a common sign.
· Excessive fear or anxiety. If the child seems to have many fears or worries.
· Long periods of sadness/ excessive crying. Children might not talk about being sad; they show sadness mostly through their actions. They might get in trouble and break rules to show they are sad.
· Feeling a sense of responsibility or guilt – A child that feels that a divorce or death is their fault.
· Anger – Constant fighting with other children, hitting, biting, shouting etc.
· Recurring headaches, nausea, stomach-aches, nightmares or skin conditions.
*Many children show these signs at times. If the problems start suddenly after a divorce, death, or other stressful event, the child may need extra help.
Getting help is important if:
• the signs are more extreme than you would normally see in other children,
• they last for a long period of time,
• you have tried to work with the child, but the problems continue.
How do I go about it?
Parents and teachers may refer learners for counselling if they feel that there is something the child needs to work through. Parents would need to attend an intake and feedback meeting.
Any learner that would like to see me on their own or privately, can do so by filling in a form, which can be found in their classrooms or they may ask their teacher.
Learners are seen during break times, or at times that fit into the learner’s schedule so that he or she does not miss out on important work.