A group of 52 teachers, educational psychologists and counsellors attended a training and feedback session ahead of the school based counselling service being implemented.
The preparatory session was organised by the Ministry of Education and coordinated by Jackie Linares and Wayne Barton and delivered by Giselle Carreras from the Care Agency.
This has resulted in a comprehensive operational policy and associated referral pathways being established and agreed upon for primary and secondary sectors and the college, by those directly involved in the children’s wellbeing.
The session was delivered at the University of Gibraltar and focused on the specific role of the school counsellor and future interactions with internal and external agencies.
Ms Carreras, who is the current Head of Psychology and Therapeutic Services in the Care Agency, shared her own experience for the benefit of those educators who it is envisaged will work closely with the school counsellors.
The teachers later formed the target audience for the session together with members of the positive mental health steering groups, which includes education psychologists.
Ms Carreras covered themes such as the rationale and evidence base for Counselling in Schools, an evaluation of UK studies, approaches in primary and secondary, referral thresholds and golden rules for information sharing, among many others.
Ms Linares and Mr Barton were then able to apply these principles in their shared presentation and looked at the strategic implications of the operational policy in practice, validating the implementation plan through open engagement and discussion.
CAB counsellors also provided feedback and guidance through their experiences.
The training culminated with a group session where a number of questions and scenarios were examined with potential approaches deliberated on using the material covered during the day.
Minister for Education, John Cortes, said: “We have made excellent progress over the past year in tackling the issues surrounding mental health in the school population.”
“The preparatory work done by the multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that the new School Counsellors, soon to be recruited, work in a well-prepared environment is impressive.”
“The new service will benefit pupils and teachers, and is long overdue.”