Maree Underhill, Head of Counselling
Monday to Friday
Ph 09 376 6568 ext 819
Wednesday to Friday
Ph 09 376 6568 ext 818
Welcome to the Counselling Department at St Mary's College.
There are three school counsellors who offer a confidential and professional service. All are members of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) and are bound by confidentiality.
The Counsellors’ offices are located in the Sister Loreto Block, on the ground floor. Students are welcome to make a time to see the counsellors by filling in an appointment slip, found in the waiting room opposite the offices.
Teachers, Deans and parents may also refer students to see a counsellor. Participation by students is voluntary. We work with students individually, as well as with their peers and family, and can act as their advocate with teachers and Deans. Parents may phone or email and we operate an appointment system.
What Happens in Counselling?
In counselling you can talk about problems and concerns in a safe place with someone who will support you.
You are entitled to a counsellor
- Who you can trust
- Who listens carefully and sensitively
- Who is non-judgemental and will not blame you for the problem
- Who will try to see things from your point of view
- Who encourages you to make your own decision
- Who will support you in any changes you decide to make
- Who will offer to refer you to other help if necessary
Source: NZAC School Counselling Brochure
Information for parents and caregivers
If you have any personal, family, social or school related concerns about your daughter you are welcome to contact one of us.
- First we would talk together and you could share your concerns.
- Then we would decide together if you wanted us to follow up with the person concerned.
- We would need to agree about what parts of our conversation could be shared with her.
- You may want to know about different services and we may be able to advise you about particular services for assistance.
We all remember being young. When we are afraid, unhappy, worried, feeling isolated, being bullied or feeling alone, we are less likely to learn or feel safe.
- It is much better to address any issues early.
- Young people have a lot less experience than adults in managing their lives and relationships.
- Young people can struggle at times in sharing their troubles with those close to them and an issue can begin to feel overwhelming.
- What helps is care and effective support.
Signs of concern that we recommend you always look out for as a parent or caregiver: (from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand)
- Being very sad, or emotional numbness
- Loss of pleasure in everyday activities
- Being irritable or anxious
- Poor concentration
- Feeling guilty or blaming herself, or crying for no apparent reason
- A change in sleeping or eating habits
- Feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of death
Also be aware of:
- Changes in behaviour – perhaps unusually quiet, or angry and aggressive
- Withdrawing socially from family and/or friends
- Getting into trouble
- Less interest in school work, complains about school, not wanting to go to school, truanting school
- Cannot make decisions, has difficulty remembering things
- Taking risks and seems to have stopped caring
- Losing weight, looking very thin, appearing uncomfortable around food or over-exercising
- Sadness around a fallout with a significant relationship (girl or boyfriend or family member)
Some ideas we offer that might help:
- Take time to talk with your young person.
- Encourage her to share her feelings with you – this helps her to make sense of what is happening, feel less alone and feel supported.
- Listen until she feels you understand what she is saying.
- Ask supportive questions and leave plenty of time for her to answer.
- Together, come up with positive ways to manage her situation.
- Time with friends is a natural support link for young people.
- Negotiate boundaries, to ensure she keeps herself safe.
- Encourage her with ways to keep focused on her studies and participate in healthy activities.
- Talk concerns through with the appropriate person – perhaps her Dean, teacher or a professional, such as your GP or a school counsellor.