When parents send their children off to school, they expect them to be in a safe environment where they can learn and grow. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many young people across the UK. A recent Ofcom study found that four in 10 children aged between eight and 17 have experienced some form of bullying, either on- or offline.

The effects of bullying and or neglect can last well into adulthood and have been linked to mental health problems, self-harm and even suicide. School counsellors play an important role in supporting vulnerable students and helping them heal from their experiences.

Employing effective counselling techniques can empower children and encourage them to build a brighter future.

Building trust and safety

Students may worry about opening up to an adult so your first priority as a therapist is to establish a safe and trusting space. This involves active listening, creating a non-judgmental environment and validating the child’s experiences.

You can create rapport and connect with your patient by using age-appropriate language and encouraging them to express their emotions freely, whether through words, drawings or play.

Expressive therapy

Expressive techniques such as painting, dancing or listening to music can be powerful tools for children who struggle to articulate their feelings verbally. These outlets allow them to release their feelings creatively, revealing underlying anxieties, fears and trauma.

A counsellor can gain valuable insights by analysing these creations and guiding them toward healing while reducing anxiety.

CBT techniques

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can equip children with valuable coping mechanisms.  There is a lot of evidence supporting the success of CBT in overcoming mental health issues. It allows patients to identify negative thought patterns and develop healthier ways of thinking about themselves and the situation.

Strategies such as journaling, restructuring and guided discovery can help kids challenge damaging thoughts and replace them with positive self-affirmations.

Family involvement

Bullying and neglect can have consequences for the entire family. Involving parents or guardians in the counselling process creates a support network at home and encourages better communication. You should also provide education about bullying and neglect to empower parents to better protect and understand their children.

Trusting someone with such an important role in looking after their child’s health is something that parents will look to do with as much confidence as possible. Being able to point to robust counsellor’s insurance may help you establish your credentials and that you take your position seriously.

Resilience training

Children may experience bullying again in the future but developing coping mechanisms can guide them through adversity. Resilience training equips them with skills to manage difficult emotions, navigate challenges and build a positive sense of self.

Techniques involve mindfulness meditation, social skills training to build healthy relationships and goal-setting exercises. These allow students to feel accomplished in their progress.