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Demand and provision of school counselling in primary schools in Ireland

Dooley Judge, Deirdre (2017) Demand and provision of school counselling in primary schools in Ireland. Master of Science thesis, Dublin City University.

Unlike many European countries there is little provision of school-based counselling for children attending primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. Despite recent initiatives to promote psychological wellbeing in schools, significant numbers of children are presenting in school with significant mental health difficulties. To date, there has been no comprehensive attempt to capture the national landscape with regard to the extent of children's needs and the level of provision of counselling available. This study involved a mixed methods design using a national online survey with primary school principals (n=1282) to investigate the demand for and provision of school counselling for primary school children in Ireland. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five principals (n=5) and five school counsellors (n=5), where school-based counselling is available, to explore experiences of such provision. Findings from this current study indicate the limited provision of counselling with on-site services in existence in a small number of urban primary schools in Ireland. The current prevalence and complexity of presentations of children in terms of emotional needs has been revealed with findings indicating the difficulties teachers face in meeting these needs. Results show that the five most prevalent issues which children present with relate to general family issues (36.4%), behavioural related (18%), anxiety (13.2%), separation/marital/divorce-related issues (6.3%) and academic concerns (4.6%). The ad hoc nature of funding of the service is highlighted, necessitating principals to be proactive in securing funds to ensure a continuance of the service. The ad hoc nature of the referral process is also presented with findings indicating that children may self-refer or refer their peers to on-site counselling. Results also showed that the location of a counselling service in the school allows ease of access for children and parents to avail of a range of supports being provided by counsellors. The study has revealed the perceived benefits of on-site counselling on classroom dynamics with children returning to class calmer, more confident and better able to engage with learning. The presence of a counsellor on-site in primary schools has been cited by both principals and counsellors as a particular support for teachers both in terms of consultation about concerns in relation to a child, for specific training through mental health and well-being workshops and for the delivery of self-care programmes for staff. While there is no statutory provision for school-based counselling in primary schools in Ireland (Republic), findings suggest that schools are using resources creatively in an attempt to access private counselling. It is expected that the findings from this study, the first such study conducted in Ireland, will have important implications for the development of school counselling and will add to the research base.
Item Type:Thesis (Master of Science)
Date of Award:November 2017
Supervisor(s):McElvaney, Rosaleen and Gordon, Evelyn
Uncontrolled Keywords:mental well-being; emotional well-being; children;
Subjects:Medical Sciences > Mental health
Social Sciences > Education
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science and Health > School of Nursing and Human Sciences
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. View License
Funders:St. Patrick's Mental Health Services
ID Code:22010
Deposited On:08 Nov 2017 16:09 by Rosaleen Mcelvaney . Last Modified 19 Jul 2018 15:11

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