In September 2020 we hosted a webinar - The Changing Landscape of School and College Counselling - with guest speaker Professor Mick Cooper, alongside Jo Holmes (CYPF Lead), Sarah Watson (CYPF Ethics Lead) and Wendy Hay (CYPF Divisional Executive member), to provide an overview of our campaign work, research and ethical dilemmas related to school and college counselling.

This led a number of practitioners expressing an interest to be involved in an expert reference group to work on both existing and future campaigns.

School and college counselling intervention is defined as "a form of psychological therapy that provides young people with an empathic, non-judgmental, and supportive relationship to find their own answers to their problems’’ (Hill, Roth, Cooper, 2013). This is offered within a safe and boundaried space for children and young people to talk about their difficulties, within a relationship of agreed confidentiality.

The Expert Reference Group (ERG)

The ERG consists of around 20 members from a range of backgrounds, including those employed directly by schools and colleges and those working within the third sector, as well as private practitioners and volunteers.

The group advocates access to free counselling for children and young people while recognising that practitioners should be appropriately paid.

The group is committed to developing user-friendly resources to promote the role of evidence-based counselling so commissioners and service providers are clearer about professional standards, appropriate training and what counselling involves.

The group is chaired by Shira Baram and Niki Gibbs. If you have any suggestions for future campaigns or ideas for the group to take forward, please email jo.holmes@bacp.co.uk.

Shira Baram

Shira Baram, Co-Chair

I have quite a varied experience and background. I have worked as a secondary school teacher, often with students with special educational needs and disabilities, both as a form teacher and offering pastoral support. I've also worked in administration and management within the NHS and am currently leading on the health and wellbeing work stream and strategy for my division

I'm trained as a person-centred counsellor. My training included a placement with a charity offering counselling for children and young people both in and outside of schools. Since qualifying I've continued to work with young people, as well as working with older adults which gives me a greater appreciation for how experiences, feelings and emotions encountered as a child can affect and shape relationships and ability to process experiences later on in life. For me this highlights the importance and significance for children and young people being able to access counselling and support.

Providing children, teenagers and young people an opportunity to talk or express themselves artistically and creatively about things personal to them without any judgement is so valuable and essential, and is why I’m so passionate about increasing accessibility and counselling for children and young people as well as their families. 

Niki Gibbs

Niki Gibbs, Co-Chair

I'm a senior accredited member of BACP, manage a busy school counselling service, work as a counselling supervisor for the mental health charity, MIND and also maintain a teaching role as an Associate Lecturer in Counselling at the University of the West of England.

My counselling experience includes working on a mental health crisis helpline, in university, college and school counselling services, and also in private practice.

ERG member blogs