How the secondary school as a working environment for counsellors impacts on what they require from supervision

Imogen Harries

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Even though school-based counselling is referred to as one of the most prominent forms of psychological therapy that young people receive today (Cooper, 2013), there is a lack of current research about how the environment of the secondary school impacts on the supervisory requirements of school counsellors.
    This study investigates how the secondary school as a working environment for counsellors in the south west of England impacts on what experienced counsellors require from their supervision.
    Seven secondary school counsellors participated in semi-structured interviews. The views of experienced, rather than therapists in training, are used as it has been recognised that the requirements of these two groups may differ (Wheeler and Richards, 2007). Methods of analysing interview transcripts was heavily influenced by Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014).
    Findings show one core concept (‘The counsellor as part of a system’) linking five main themes (‘the ‘context’ and ‘content’ of counselling’, ‘separation of roles’, ‘boundaries and confidentialities’, ‘the goals of the environment’, and ‘risk’)
    Counsellors identify four main requirements from their supervisors: a need to be external to the school, a knowledge and understanding of risk and child protection legislation, an understanding of the working context of the counsellor and how that impacts on their work, and a knowledge of how to work therapeutically with this age group.
    Along with a model for supervising secondary school counsellors which emerges from this study, there are implications for how a supervisor is chosen by a counsellor or agency, and for supervision training itself.

    Cooper, M. (2013) ‘School-based counselling in UK Secondary Schools: A review and critical evaluation’ Lutterworth: BACP/Counselling MindEd. [Online] Available at:
    Charmaz, K. (2014) Constructing Grounded Theory (2nd Ed.) London: Sage
    Wheeler, S. and Richards, K. (2007) ‘The impact of clinical supervision on counsellors and therapists, their practice and clients: a systematic review of the literature’ [Online] Available at:
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUSW School of Therapeutic Studies Research Conference 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • secondary school
    • counselling
    • supervison


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