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Unit information: Counselling Learners with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs in 2021/22

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Counselling Learners with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs
Unit code EDUCM0061
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Bakopoulou
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit considers the impact of Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs for learners and provides the opportunity to critically evaluate established frameworks and practices that inform the use of counselling skills in Education contexts.

The unit will consider a selection of topics related to the education of learners experiencing Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties, chosen in consultation with students attending the unit. These topics could include: bullying; difficulties with learning; impact of assessment; behaviour and discipline; bereavement; coping with transition and major life changes; vulnerability arising from abuse or neglect; self-harm; anxiety and depression; eating disorders and substance abuse. The selected topics will be considered from the perspectives of the person seeking help and their families, teachers and other professionals.

The aims of this unit are to:

  • Develop a theoretical understanding of potential issues that may be brought by young people seeking help in educational settings;
  • Examine and evaluate theoretical differences in counselling skills frameworks;
  • Critically analyse the implications for theory and practice for professionals using counselling skills;
  • Draw on students’ own life experience and of others known to them to deepen their understanding of the potential impact of using counselling skills with learners with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs;
  • Formulate appropriate strategies for helping by use of counselling skills that take account of the individual needs, cultural norms and the educational setting.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit students will demonstrate that they:

  1. Have a critical knowledge of and the ability to evaluate appropriate approaches to issues presented by young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs asking for help in educational settings;
  2. Can critically justify different approaches to offering help or use of counselling skills when working with learners with SEMH needs;
  3. Understand the implications of life story and personal experience for offering help to young people given the impact of SEMH needs on school experiences;
  4. Can demonstrate and apply their learning related to different approaches for someone with specified issues for which help is being sought.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including lectures, reading and discussions.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment

Students will be required, working collaboratively in small groups, to make a presentation to the class about a selected issue/special educational need and its implications for learners with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs. This will involve conceptualising the area of need, identifying barriers to learning and proposing an intervention that could be delivered by a skilled helper to provide support for the child or young person. The presentation will not be summatively assessed but will be discussed in class and formative feedback will be provided by unit tutors. This presentation and those of the other groups will inform the summative components of the assessment.

Students will be expected to take part in the activities planned for each session and to contribute fully to group discussions and tasks. In addition to feedback from colleagues, the unit tutor will offer constructive feedback during the presentations and classroom discussions. ILOs 1-3

Essay (100%): Students will be asked to submit a 4,000 word essay in which they critically reflect on the appropriateness of an intervention for supporting learners with a particular SEMH need using a case study account of a child or young person with this need. Students will need to demonstrate a critical ability to understand and apply relevant literature, to select an appropriate intervention for their population of interest, and to appreciate the challenges of implementation for professionals using counselling skills within educational contexts. ILOs 1-4

Reading and References

  • Geldard, K. and Geldard, D (2014) Counselling Adolescents. (4th Ed) London, Sage
  • Geldard, K. and Geldard, D (2013) Counselling Children: a practical Introduction. (4th Ed) London, Sage
  • Hornby, G., Hall, C. & Hall, E. (Eds.) (2003) Counselling Pupils in Schools: skills and strategies for teachers. London, Routledge/Falmer
  • Humphrey, N. (2014) Social and Emotional Learning: a critical appraisal Sage: London
  • Sederholm, G. H. (2003) Counselling Young People in School. London, Jessica Kingsley