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Meet our School Counsellor

20/04/2023 Top News

School Counsellor Lisa Smith tells us why pupil and staff wellbeing is so important to her and at the heart of the Risedale Family.

“The role of a full-time School Counsellor is certainly a busy one but one I enjoy thoroughly. I have provided counselling to 263 pupils since I came into the post at Risedale School in February 2021.

I set up and established a Referral Pathway to streamline all referrals for mental health support in school. This includes low-level support from existing support services within the school to pupils requiring counselling in school or onward referrals to external agencies. Staff, parents or pupils themselves can make a referral for support. This is done by talking with form tutors in the first instance.

For those pupils requiring counselling support, consent is obtained from the families or young persons. I offer an initial assessment followed by 6 - 8 1:1 counselling sessions for pupils with mild to moderate mental health needs.

I liaise with families/carers when the counselling sessions start and when they finish. I am available to discuss any concerns as the sessions are ongoing. If needed, I liaise with external agencies which can include CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), Phoenix Compass, Local Authority etc.

All records are kept up to date and data is collected from every pupil with regard to outcome measures on the impact of the counselling sessions including a pupil evaluation after the completion of the sessions.

Being in school and part of the Risedale Family enables me to offer informal discussions with both staff and pupils so they can talk about any concerns and I can offer general support.

As well as being a full-time School Counsellor I am also the Senior Mental Health Lead at Risedale with a focus on developing a Whole School Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing. This role has involved the development of Pupil Mental Health Ambassadors who have some fabulous ideas about supporting their peers within school and a Staff Wellbeing Working Group which focuses on Mental Health in the Workplace.

I have also written a Positive Mental Health Policy which can be found in the Policies area of our website.

Last year pupils enjoyed a pop concert in school from the pop group ‘He Knows She Knows’. The group delivered a talk between songs on mental health issues young people face today.

This year the PE department and I will be taking a group of pupils to the North Yorkshire Wellbeing Festival focussing on the outdoors and exercise to embrace positive mental health.

On 4th May the Charlie Waller Trust delivered a training session in school for parents on the ‘Teen Brain’ which looked at teen brain development and ‘teen behaviours’ with supporting strategies. The Charlie Waller team have also delivered training to school staff to raise awareness of both staff and pupil wellbeing.

As a Qualified Counselling Supervisor I also deliver Supervision sessions to some staff within the school. These reflective sessions help to focus staff on their own wellbeing and in turn, enable them to better support pupils with their mental health and wellbeing needs.

Last year I liaised with Teesside University and we were able to offer a placement in school for a trainee counsellor undertaking their counselling degree. We have also offered a placement to another student this year and she will be joining us after Easter.

The role of a School Counsellor is so rewarding. I am lucky enough to say I love my job and love being part of the Risedale Family. I am humbled by our amazing pupils who engage and embrace counselling support when they can be experiencing such difficult times in their lives.”

You can find lots of helpful information and resources for supporting wellbeing by visiting our dedicated Health and Wellbeing webpage.