The Role of the Guidance Counsellor in Pastoral Care: M. Barnwell
“Guidance is about helping young people to begin to find themselves, to develop their sense of identity, to begin to know who they really are, what they have and what they do not have; what they can do easily and what they probably cannot do at all, in terms of education, occupations, relationships, values and society….A very simple definition of guidance describes it as a process of helping individuals, through their own efforts, to discover and develop their potentialities for personal happiness and social usefulness”
The above quote illustrates the fact that a wide variety of services are provided under the umbrella term of ‘Guidance’. Guidance can actually be described as the full range of interventions which assist students in making choices about their lives. Therefore, because of their specialist training, Guidance Counsellors have a leading role to play in the school’s guidance programme. In my role as Guidance Counsellor at Colaiste Eamon Ris, I endeavour to absorb as much information as I can about students from a wide range of sources. This information enables me to take a ‘helicopter view’ of student development across three specific areas, namely Personal/Social Guidance, Educational Guidance and Vocational Guidance. Cooperation from all staff is essential to the successful running of the Guidance and Counselling function and greatly assists me in my daily tasks. I work as part of the school’s team and liaise with a variety of staff members as well as with parents and other professionals outside of the school setting.
The overall focus of my role is to endeavour to the best of my ability to provide sensitive care and support to the students at this school in order to help them cope with the many aspects of their personal development. In the school environment, I believe individual counselling to be a necessity in helping students with their decision-making, problem-solving, behavioural changes and development of skills for coping with ever-changing circumstances across the three areas mentioned above. Participation on the part of the student in individual counselling sessions is voluntary, and their right to confidentiality is respected as part of the process within the Counsellor/Client contract.
In keeping with ethical standards, in a personal counselling situation where the young person’s problem is such that I judge it to be outside of my expertise, I will then refer the student to a more specialised service where such expertise is available. I will then monitor the progress of the referral.
No matter what the issue or query, I am always available to students for consultation. Should they wish to speak to me, they need to approach the Guidance office and request an appointment. The next available appointment will be allocated to them and together we will endeavour to work towards the best solution, thereby making school an easier place to be.