Our Therapeutic Approaches to Counselling School Children and Older Students
Supporting and helping your students return to a state of wellbeing can be achieved through a variety of therapeutic approaches. The specific approach we use in each case will depend on each student’s circumstances.
Because all KCS counsellors are trained in Integrative Therapy - a combined psychotherapeutic approach that pulls together many different elements of specific therapies, our counselling methods are highly flexible and adaptable. And it’s this flexibility that allows us to support students in the best and most effective ways.
At the heart of the integrative therapeutic approach is what is known as Person-Centred counselling - this forms the foundation from which other counselling approaches can be introduced if needed.
To help you understand more about the Person-Centred approach and how it’s used to effect greater student wellbeing (link to wellbeing), we’ve put together a brief overview below.
You’ll also find a quick summary of some of the other main counselling modalities we tend to use, which will help build a clearer picture of KCS’ counselling methodology.
Person-Centred Counselling – The core of our approach
What is person-centred counselling?
The basis of person-centred counselling is understanding that the solutions to the challenges your students are facing already lie within them, and can be discovered and surfaced with the help of a counsellor. This is a very powerful therapeutic approach that can assist students in moving closer to reaching their highest potential as individuals.
How person-centred counselling works
You may also hear person-centred counselling referred to as person-centred therapy or client-centred therapy, and the approach consists of the following 2 main principles;
Only through empathising with the student’s situation can we understand why the student is behaving in the way they are. The counsellor has to change their own perspective and be able to “see through the eyes” of their student client
Because your students have the power to think for themselves, and how they think influences their actions, counsellors understand students to be capable individuals who can make up their own minds regarding what behaviours they should display. Consequently, they’re also regarded as being fully responsible for any actions they decide to take
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
What is CBT therapy?
CBT is a form of talk therapy and it’s based on the premise that the feelings your students have and the behaviours they exhibit, not only influence each other, but are also influenced by the way they think about and perceive their experiences. This interplay of influence means any changes in a student’s thinking or behaviour, will therefore influence the way they feel about a specific life experience, and vice versa.
How CBT works
With CBT, counsellors work with students by starting from their present situation and looking forward to the future. Any previously learned behaviours, habits, and negative thought patterns are examined and identified, in order the student can discover how to transform or adapt them into more positive versions moving forward.
Because CBT is looking at how both your students’ cognitive and behavioural processes affect one another, it’s aim is to help them break free of any negative cycles. How much emphasis is placed on either the behavioural or cognitive aspect, depends on the specific issue your students are facing.
E.g. challenges with depression may require more focus be put on the cognitive approach, whereas challenges with undesirable, physical behaviour, are likely to focus more on the behavioural approach.
Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT)
What is solution-focused therapy?
SFT is typically a shorter form of counselling therapy that uses the process of goal-setting to create the solutions to the challenges your students are facing. This is different from many other therapeutic approaches which tend to focus on the cause of the challenge and other related issues.
How SFT works
SFT, also known as Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), starts by getting the student to define their current challenge to the counsellor. After the challenge has been clarified, the counsellor helps the student to set a clear, future goal, that represents what the ideal outcome to their situation would look like. As well as defining the goal, the SFBT process also gets the student to plan what relevant and necessary steps they’ll need to take so the goal can be achieved.
Another important aspect of SFBT is providing feedback to the student on which of their actions haven’t worked well historically, so they can stop doing those in the future, and instead repeat more of the actions that have been found to work well.
What is psychodynamic therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy is another form of talk therapy, is a briefer adaptation of the more in-depth therapy called psychoanalysis, and works by looking back into a student’s past experiences, in order their present behaviours and moods can be better understood. By understanding more about the past, and therefore the unconscious influences that are in play, the student can be helped to cope more effectively with specific psychological states being experienced in the present.
How psychodynamic therapy works
Also known as psychodynamic counselling and sometimes referred to as insight-oriented therapy, sessions involve the student and counsellor working through and examining unresolved conflicts from the student’s past. Clear links between these past conflicts and how they’re impacting the student’s unwanted thought patterns, habits and symptoms happening today, are then revealed.
A very valuable component of this therapy is that the focus is also put on the student’s mental and emotional experiences, and not just their symptoms or behaviours.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy uses the medium of art as a means of expression to help with the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of students.
How art therapy works
There are 3 components of art therapy – the artist (the student), the artwork, and the therapist. The art therapist will choose to use specific materials proven to deliver therapeutic effects to the student. The materials stimulate a range of different sensory responses and generate imagery that directly connects to the student’s emotions.
This is such a powerful process because the art really helps the student to address and process past overwhelming experiences, by allowing them to organize their feelings and create a story about what happened. Prior to starting their counselling, finding the words to describe and express how they were feeling will typically have proven very difficult for the student to do. This inability to bring forth what is inside can be very frustrating and exacerbate their situation.
What is play therapy?
Play therapy counselling use a child’s natural form of creative expression - play, to act as a communication mechanism. Through playing, children are able to make more sense of and help process the way they feel, as well as interpret the world around them.
How play therapy works
Therapeutic play happens in a playroom that contains a “play therapy toolkit. Typically, the toolkit consists of various toys, story books, instruments, different types of artistic materials, dolls and puppets, etc.
The counsellor will often allow the child free reign in terms of what they wish to play with, and then take note of what gets chosen and in what manner they’re playing. At other times, the counsellor will be more directive with the child and look to explore certain themes, or work with particular contents of the toolkit in a more specific way.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply having a clear awareness of the present moment you’re experiencing. Being in a mindful state allows your students to be fully here, right now. The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness – a state where we are either mentally projected into the past or future, meaning the rest of us that’s left here in the present is running on auto-pilot mode.
How mindfulness works
When your students practice mindfulness, they enter a light meditative state that allows them to become tuned into the present moment. By simply becoming aware of the sensations present in their bodies, and then shifting their attention to their breathing, they begin being mindful. If they notice their mind has wandered off, as it often tends to do, they just effortlessly bring it back so it’s once again focused on the breath.
In only a few minutes of mindfulness practice, students become much calmer, focused and centred.
Now that you understand more about the therapeutic approaches the KCS team use to support your students, let’s take a look at…
How the Counselling Service Operates as an In-School Service
We will initially work with your designated manager to develop a Service Level Agreement.
Subsequently, a liaison person who can facilitate referrals and be the conduit for service reporting, will be required. This might be the Family Worker/ SENCO or Pastoral Support Manager.
From then on your counsellor will integrate and establish themselves within your school and develop a strong working relationship with your staff.
We will need a confidential room to use regularly; preferably in a quiet location within the school.
To discover how KCS counsellors can start supporting the students in your school, college, or university, please call us on 07837 254 296 or contact us online today.