University of Sussex
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The trust is the work: how school counsellors maintain alliances with young people when sharing information because of safeguarding concerns. A phronetic case study

posted on 2023-06-09, 18:33 authored by Tracey FullerTracey Fuller
This ESRC funded project explores how school counsellors navigate relationships and maintain trust in therapeutic alliances with young people when sharing information because of safeguarding concerns. It seeks to capture a holistic picture of information sharing through illuminating the different perspectives of young people (10), school-based counsellors (6) and designated safeguarding leads (2). This project's phronetic stance seeks to illuminate the deliberations and practical wisdom of its participants to develop practice (Flyvbjerg, 2001). It uncovers young peoples' and professionals' reflections on the humanness of information sharing processes through exploring contextual, relational and affective factors. This case study was based at The Place28e which is the largest UK school-based counselling agency (Place2Be, 2016). The fieldwork took place in six secondary schools. In an iterative process, I used a combination of semi-structured and interactive group interviews that used a fictional vignette as stimulation for discussion and a film of professionals' views for the young people to critique. Professional participants later met to co-reflect on the data. This created a 'polyphony of voices' that dialogued and responded to each other through the research process (Flybjerg,2001: 139). I used phronetic bricolage to apply a multilayered approach, analyzing data both thematically and narratively (Trnavcevic and Biloslavo, 2017). The central finding concerns counsellor availability which is formulated both psychologically, by maintaining empathy and attending to the young person's concerns; and practically. A feature of an 'available' counsellor is their perceived trustworthiness as demonstrated by continued honest engagement and transparent communication. This is experienced as a participatory process by young people. All participants highlighted the anxiety that accompanies information sharing. Professional relationships with school safeguarding leads emerged as affecting counsellor containment and hence their availability. Trust in alliances with young people during information sharing is supported by participatory practices and sufficient containment experiences for school counsellors.


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