CatholicCare Student and Family Counselling Service
As part of their pastoral care program for students, Catholic Schools have access to a Student and Family Counselling service provided by CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn (CCG). CCG are contracted by Catholic Education and Congregational Schools to provide a counselling service to students and their families. There is no fee to access this service.
The role of the counsellor is to focus on the emotional, social and educational well-being of the students. Counsellors welcome contact with students having difficulty with some part of their life, whether or not it affects their school work. The problem does not have to be a big one. It is better to seek help sooner than later. Some typical concerns that counsellors work with include: anger, anxiety, behavioural problems, depression, eating problems, family breakdown and family conflict, grief and loss, learning and educational challenges, parenting challenges, peer and other social relationships, school avoidance, stress and study skills. As well as individual sessions with students, counsellors can run groups, do family work, consult with parents and teachers and make referrals to other services and supports.
Counsellors are not employed as specialists in any area and at times will suggest referrals for specialist services. Counsellors also do not provide cognitive or learning assessments or court reports. Families requiring these will be referred to another service.
All Student and Family counsellors are professionally qualified Social Workers or Psychologists who participate in regular clinical supervision and professional development.
Student and Family Counsellors subscribe to a set of professional ethics that include duty of care and respect for the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality. The counsellors’ obligation is to ensure the safety, wellbeing and confidentiality of the student they are working with. All counsellors are mandated to report any disclosure or sign of abuse (including self-harm) or neglect to Child Protection Services.
Students can refer themselves, be referred by family, school staff or other agencies. Primary school students require the consent of their parents or guardians to access counselling. The consent of both parents is required where there is separation/divorce and both parents have parenting and decision making responsibilities. High school students do not require parental consent to access the counsellor. Where it is in the best interest of the student and with the student’s consent counsellors will facilitate the involvement of a parent or guardian.
Counsellors use the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as part of assessment and monitoring of change during counselling. Use of these measures is considered best practice and measures such as this are widely used in counselling services. In high schools, the counsellor will request students to complete an initial questionnaire in one of the first sessions and a follow up questionnaire during and/or towards the end of counselling. In primary schools, counsellors will request parents/guardians to complete an initial questionnaire before seeing the student and again during or before completion of counselling. Counsellors may also request teachers and high school parents to complete questionnaires. This will be done with the knowledge and consent of parents/guardians and high school students. More information on the questionnaire is available at http://www.sdqinfo.com/.
The counsellor’s presence in schools varies from two days per term to 5 days per week during school term time. Counsellors can be contacted directly in person at the school, through the school front office or staff or through the CCG Red Hill office on (02) 6162 6100. Feedback on the service can be provided directly to the counsellor, by phoning the CCG office or anonymously on the CCG website.