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Sathya Sai College

Giving informed consent for your child to attend College Counselling Services

Important information for parents/guardians/carers

Overview

To assist you we have provided some information about the counselling service, which we encourage you to read before signing the consent form. This document will provide you with an explanation of informed consent in relation to school counselling services. Informed consent means that you are given sufficient information so that you understand and can make appropriate decisions (such as giving consent) about the counselling service for your child.

Informed consent involves the following:

1. Information

You should be provided with enough information to understand what your consent means. It is important that you clearly understand all the parts of your consent, which include:

  1. The School Counsellor’s role and services they provide
  2. Confidentiality and its limits
  3. Nature of intervention (consequences and implications of any service provided)
  4. The privacy of information collected during the provision of the counselling service including with respect to:
    1. Information sharing (gathering information from third parties or sharing information with others)
    2. Record management (why and what information is recorded, record storage, ownership and access)
  5. Length of service and consent (how long is your consent valid, duration and frequency of sessions, and how you can withdraw your consent).

It is important that you understand each of the above parts and that you should be given enough time to review your consent and ask questions about the referral before signing the consent form.

 2. Willingness to give consent

You don’t have to provide consent. The School Counsellor will discuss what may happen if you do not give consent so that you can understand how your child could be affected if counselling support is not provided. You also have the right to withdraw your consent at any time.

3. Giving consent

If you sign and date the consent form you give your permission for the School Counsellor to work with you and your child for the duration of a school year. Consent can also be obtained verbally (the School Counsellor will document this).

School Counselling Role

It is an integral part of the School’s philosophy to provide a safe and supportive environment in which students are secure and which minimizes any risk of harm. The School Counsellor will follow the School’s policies at all times and promote the core values of Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non-Violence.

Our School Counsellor provides short term counselling to support students achieve physical, social, emotional, academic, psychological and spiritual wellbeing and health. Counselling is the process that occurs when a student and School Counsellor set aside time to explore issues or concerns. The School Counsellor will arrange sessions with your child throughout the term to provide support and strategies. The frequency of sessions could vary from weekly, fortnightly or as needed.

The School Counsellor cannot diagnose mental health disorders and their counselling services are not intended as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment for any mental health disorder.

A School Counsellor can assist you and/or your child by providing support and strategies to help at school and/or home. This might include support for: parent/child relationships; stress; anxiety; grief and loss; physical, emotional, social, academic, psychological or spiritual wellbeing; important transitions or significant changes.

Counselling support is most effective when all parties volunteer to be present for the process. If a student does not volunteer to work with the School Counsellor, the School Counsellor will not offer counselling support to them.

If a student voluntarily agrees to work with the School Counsellor, one or more of the following steps will be followed:

Step 1: School Counsellor only listens to a student and their concerns, shows empathy and understanding. No intervention.

Step 2: If the student expresses a desire to work with the School Counsellor on setting positive goals and work toward achieving them, the School Counsellor will explain confidentiality and ensure parental and/or student consent forms are signed before providing any counselling support.

Step 3: After consent has been obtained from relevant parties, the School Counsellor and the student will discuss and set positive goals for the student and discuss healthy strategies for meeting these goals. The School Counsellor will check-in with the student and monitor their progress; listen to any concerns the student might have during the process; and, reflect on and adjust any counselling strategies as required. If necessary, the School Counsellor will inform relevant staff about their work with the student on a need to know basis and follow the School’s Privacy Policy to create an ongoing supportive environment for the student. As needed and where appropriate, the School Counsellor can talk to parents/carers/guardians about the goals and strategies discussed with the student. The School Counsellor will end their counselling support once student goals are reached. Alternatively, the School Counsellor will end their counselling support if a student expresses a desire to stop working with the School Counsellor, or parents/carers/guardians withdraw their consent. The risks associated with ending counselling support in this manner will be discussed with the student and parents/carers/guardians.

A student can work with the School Counsellor one-on-one or in a small group if a few students share similar concerns and express that they would like to work on their goals together. Steps 1-3 will be followed for all parties.

Sometimes short-term counselling support is not the ideal option; in this case, the school counsellor will provide you with a more appropriate referral option.

Consent regarding self-referral and referral of a student

In the primary school setting, the consent of the parent/guardian/carer must be provided before engaging with or providing counselling support to a student. However, if there is a concern for the immediate safety or wellbeing of a student, the School Counsellor must act in the student’s best interest. The School Counsellor will liaise with the Principal in this instance.

Counselling services may be provided to a student in the primary or secondary setting without parent consent, from the age of 12, as long as the student is deemed to have the capacity to give informed consent. School counsellors will use their professional judgement to determine if a student has the capacity to provide informed consent to receive counselling services or whether parental consent is required.

If there are doubts about the capacity of a self-referred student to understand the limits to confidentiality and their parents/guardians/carers have not provided consent, counselling support will not commence unless it is necessary, under duty of care obligations, to prevent harm to the student.

Self-referred: Students may refer themselves to the School Counsellor. Steps 1-3 outlined in the school counselling role will be followed. Students may also seek an interview at the suggestion of a teacher, a parent/guardian/carer, or a friend.

Parent-referred: Parents can refer their child to the School Counsellor. The student is encouraged to meet the School Counsellor once to follow through with Step 1 outlined in the school counselling role. If the student agrees to work with the School Counsellor, Steps 2 and 3 outlined in the school counselling role will be followed.

School-referred: Relevant School staff can refer students to the School Counsellor. The referred student is encouraged to meet the School Counsellor once to follow through with Step 1 outlined in the school counselling role. If the student agrees to work with the School Counsellor, Steps 2 and 3 outlined in the school counselling role will be followed.

Parent involvement

  • Parent/guardian/carer involvement is encouraged and can be important for ongoing change, however, parents/guardians/carers need to be aware of confidentiality and its limits within the counselling process. If the student gives consent to engage in counselling, then the School Counsellor should reach an agreement with the student as to how they wish to involve the parent/guardian/carer.
  • If you as a parent/guardian feel you would benefit from some support for yourself, the school counsellor can help connect you with appropriate services.

Confidentiality and its limits

Confidentiality is a very important part of counselling. It means that information you or your child provide to the School Counsellor will generally not be disclosed without your consent unless an exception applies or unless in accordance with the School’s Privacy Policy.

The exceptions that may apply:

In accordance with professional responsibilities, the School Counsellor may need to disclose details to other people within the School or external to the School in the following circumstances:

  • The Counsellor has a reasonable belief that there is a risk to your child’s health, safety or wellbeing or that of another person;
  • There is a legal requirement to do so including as the result of a court subpoena or mandatory reporting provisions;
  • It is necessary for the Counsellor to obtain legal advice

Please understand that:

The collection and storage of personal information by the School Counsellor is the property of Sathya Sai College. All information is stored in a secure location for the time period required by law.

The School’s privacy policy

No person will have access to your child’s information except to the extent required to deliver the counselling service. Examples of this may mean:

  1. As your child will have appointments during the school day, the school’s duty of care obligations means that your child’s teacher and/or principal might be aware that the counselling is occurring. However, the information you/your child provide during the counselling process will remain confidential;
  2. In some instances, sharing of basic necessary information with school staff (eg: Learning support, Classroom Teacher, Wellbeing coordinator, etc.) may be needed to help with a more coordinated approach in working towards better learning outcomes for your child. The information is for the purpose of gaining extra support and providing the most appropriate program for your child. If you wish to provide information that you do not want shared with relevant school staff, you must inform the Counsellor verbally or in writing.
  3. A third party may be present during sessions if required (e.g.: other school wellbeing staff, school principal, etc.).
  4. Other school wellbeing staff members may need to access your child’s information in order to: continue service if school counsellor is absent, support in critical incident situations when additional personnel are assisting, undertake supervision and quality assurance activities or to fulfil requirements of the law.
  5. To administer our service, including the arrangement or changes of appointments.
  6. To fulfil our administrative, legal and contractual obligations as an employer.
  7. Sharing of Information by the Principal or Delegate: In determining the support and adjustments required for the student, the Principal, or their authorised delegate, may decide that it is appropriate to share information that the School Counsellor provides to them with other staff or the parents/guardians/carers of the student. That decision will be made by the Principal, or their authorised delegate, and any sharing will generally be on a need to know basis, and ideally in consultation with the School Counsellor, the student and/or parents/guardians/carers.

Record Management

When School Counsellors see a new student, a digital file is opened that contains relevant information. As services are provided, case notes, reports, programs and plans will be added to the file. The purpose of collecting this information is to inform and record the School Counsellor’s work. The School Counsellor is able to provide you information regarding record access. Records regarding students will be stored securely until the student attains the age of 25 years. Records will then be destroyed or permanently de-identified.

Length of Consent and Closure

When you give consent, you are agreeing for your child to work with the School Counsellor any time for the duration of the whole school year. The School will reach out to ensure you continue to provide your permission at the beginning of each new school year. If you think you may want to withdraw your consent for counselling support, it is useful to first have a discussion with the School Counsellor. If you have withdrawn your consent and at some time in the future counselling support is required, you will need to sign a new consent form.

If you have any questions or require further discussion, please contact the Principal or Counsellor.

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