14. Four focus groups consisting of guidance counsellors who were working in second level schools (25 participants);. Six consultative groups with identified stakeholders: the Directors of Studies in Guidance Counselling, the Guidance Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills, the IGC, NCGE, the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). Research FindingsNote: 'n' denotes the number of respondents to a particular question and this is indicated below as appropriate.A) Questionnaire: respondents - guidance counsellors Qualifications and Professional Development 93% of respondents (n=103) reported that they had acquired their initial guidance counselling qualification in Ireland with half obtaining their qualification prior to 1999. 59% of respondents (n=101) stated that their initial education in guidance counselling prepared them 'a lot/a great deal' for the counselling aspect of their role. 62% of respondents reported that they had undertaken additional professional development in counselling since their initial training. Post PrimaryResearch On The Practice Of Counselling By Guidance Counsellors In Post Primary Schools continuedNCGE NEWS Summer 2012 Approaches to counselling, number and type of counselling sessions The majority of respondents reported using person-centred counselling (32%), and reality therapy (26%) when working with students (n=106). Over 68% of respondents (n=106) reported (a lot - a great deal) that they feel comfortable, confident and competent with the counselling aspect of their role. A substantial variation was reported by respondents (n=101) in relation to the number of students presenting for counselling each year (the largest average reported was 12 students for 6th year, with the range from 6-44 students). A substantial variation was reported by respondents (n=102) in relation to the nature of counselling sessions with students each week with the greatest concentration reporting preventative and individual counselling sessions. On average 11 students were seen individually for counselling each week (range: 6-27 students). Nature of issues in counselling Respondents (n=103) indicated the main three issues presented by students as follows: 64% family issues, 35% bullying issues, 33% mood disturbance. Respondents (n=100) reported the three most challenging aspects of the counselling role as: time and space (32%), difficult students (30%) and lack of recognition (10%). The three referral agencies most frequently used were reported (n= 102) as NEPS (45%), GP (16%) and social services (10%).
15 Supervision 82% of respondents to the study reported that they had been involved in supervision. Respondents (n=98) indicated that they had attended 1-2 sessions of supervision (58%), 3-4 sessions (19%), 5 or more sessions (5%) with 18% reporting that they had attended no supervision. School Policy 53% of respondents reported that there was a school policy in relation to counselling. Respondents (n=102) indicated that the school has a policy in relation to consent (39%), confidentiality (56%) and record keeping (46%). Respondents indicated that the guidance department has a policy in relation to consent (63%), confidentiality (82%) and record keeping (69%).B) Focus Groups - guidance counsellors The findings emerging from the focus groups were as follows:. The counselling aspect of guidance practice is an integral part of the guidance role.. The term 'counselling' is used in different ways to mean different things according to the training and experience of the guidance counsellor. . Practice in referring students to the guidance counsellor varies, with students self-referring in some schools and being referred by teachers and/or parents in others.. Opposing views were expressed regarding the dual role of guidance counsellor and teacher. . A lack of time for counselling was reported as giving rise to enormous pressure.. More support in the counselling aspect of the role was reported as needed.C) Consultative Groups with Identified Stakeholders The following themes emerged as key areas of stakeholders' concern:. The need for counselling to be available for second-level students.. The personal qualities required by guidance counsellors.. The need for high standards in initial training.. The lack of clarity regarding the counselling aspect of the guidance role.. The importance of supports for guidance counsellors to receive in their counselling role.. The need for the views of children and parents as key stakeholders to be considered.RecommendationsBased on the findings of the researchers the researchers made the following recommendations:RoleThat the Department of Education and Skills clarifies what exactly the practice of counselling by guidance counsellors involves, its limits and how it can be supported, evaluated and developed.Post PrimaryResearch On The Practice Of Counselling By Guidance Counsellors In Post Primary Schools continuedNCGE NEWS Summer 2012