‘They need somebody to talk to': Parents' and carers' perceptions of school-based humanistic counselling

Phaedra Longhurst, Amy Louise Sumner, Stephanie Smith, Jon Eilenberg, Charlie Duncan, Mick Cooper

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Abstract Parents and carers are likely to take on a significant responsibility for managing an adolescent's mental health and well-being. Accordingly, their perceptions provide insight into the value of an intervention. This study explored parents' and carers' perceptions and expectations of school-based humanistic counselling, as received by a socially diverse group of young people (13–16 years old) in secondary schools in Greater London, UK. Semi-structured interviews from 17 parents and carers were analysed thematically. Two superordinate themes were identified: (a) the context of counselling, and (b) the content of counselling, the latter referring to stages of the therapeutic process and its outcomes. Schools were perceived as an ideal environment for the provision of professional mental health support, as it reaches young people in a natural, convenient setting and therefore promotes and/or widens access to universal support, as well as targeted interventions. Parents and carers further emphasised the importance of overall well-being, academic performance and social relationships.

© 2021, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021


  • carers
  • client perspective
  • counselling
  • parents
  • perceptions
  • qualitative
  • school-based

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