Quality Standards in Recruiting School Based Counsellors

The UK Government has recently published a Green Paper on Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision in England which recognises the “vital role” that schools can play in identifying and supporting young people experiencing problems. However, despite the expectation set out in the Department for Education’s Blueprint for Counselling in Schools, there has still been no progress towards providing a counsellor for every school in England. The new proposals do not appear to include any additional funding for the majority of schools, and there is no obvious guidance for primary or secondary schools on appointing and managing suitably qualified staff.

School-based counselling is a proven intervention which improves children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing, and can aid with a quick response when mental health problems are first identified. Many pupils report improvements in their capacity to study and learn following counselling and frequently report that counselling helps them to concentrate. However, it is important to recognise that the industry is unregulated and it is therefore vital when seeking to appoint a counsellor in a school that the counsellor is suitably qualified (minimum Level 4), is recognised on an Accredited Voluntary Register and is working within an ethical framework that involves clinical supervision and strict guidelines.

YMCA Trinity Group is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) which has over 40,000 members and was formed over 40 years ago. We employ only qualified registered mental health professionals with over 100 hours of clinical experience, rather than students on placements.  Whilst placement students are a really useful resource, they should only be working with mild cases because they are not suitably qualified to work with the most vulnerable children. We follow a strict recruitment process involving safeguarding checks, on-going CPD requirements, clinical supervision, standardised measurement tools, clinical membership, and insurance. We also ask for child and adolescent experience, since counselling with children is very different to counselling with adults. The main membership associations in the UK for counsellors, counselling psychologists, and psychotherapists are highly established and reliable institutions that are all listed with the Professional Standards Authority. We do not force schools to commit to long-term contracts and are able to provide immediate support with no waiting lists, that can be accessed as and when required.


Questions to consider


  • What does your counselling service look like?
  • Are your counsellors fully trained or on placement?  If on placement, are they supporting the most vulnerable children or only those with mild needs?
  • Do you know what counselling is and how it can help children and young people?
  • Do you know where to go to find an appropriately qualified counsellor?
  • Do you know where to find guidance on setting up a schools counselling service?
  • How do you assess impact?
  • Are young people more receptive to external support due to the fear of judgement/punishment from school led services and staff?


With the rising prevalence of mental health issues and increasing pressures on schools to tackle the issue, we can support by offering a range of advice, tools and proven systems which will take away the burden of having to balance and manage interventions in the face of conflicting priorities. Contact us today to see how you can benefit from the trusted systems, processes and evidence based model we have to offer.