Exploring the experience of young people involved in counsellor-led group work in secondary schools to inform the development of good practice in school-based counselling

  • Gwendoline Proud

Student thesis: Phd


This study is concerned with exploring counsellor intervention in the social and emotional development of ten Y8 students by means of conducting group work to implement SEAL in two secondary schools in the North East of England with the intention of upholding good practice. The aim of this research project was to explore how young people experience working in a group that is facilitated by the school counsellor and to give them a say on decisions that affect them. In order to achieve this, the study has been designed to listen to the voice of the young person to find out whether it contributes to their wellbeing. A qualitative child-focussed methodology using a phenomenological approach was employed to explore the experience of the participants with the following questions in mind: "What is the impact on the student?", "What is the relevance of counsellor led group work for the student, the school and the practitioner?", and "Is the counsellor-led group work in the best interests of the student?" As a result of this process, three main themes emerged that characterised the young person's experience of the group work: positive school experience; improved self- concept; enjoyment from acquiring new skills. Analysis of the themes indicated that the counsellor-facilitated group work provided a safe, positive place for students to improve social skills as well as providing an element of therapy which contributed to their well- being. The findings determined that school-based counsellors can have a valuable role to play in the development of school social and emotional programmes achievable by working collaboratively with school staff. This study makes a contribution to the development of models of good practice for school counsellors by helping to understand what is significant for interventions to be meaningful for young people. The findings also show that the students experienced a level of self-actualisation during the group work, seeing the self as 'normal', possible in a climate where Rogers' core conditions prevailed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorClare Lennie (Supervisor) & William West (Supervisor)


  • school-based counselling, group work, child experience

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