Counseling in school: Exploring the possibilities

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Counseling service in schools is a recent phenomenon. My own experience of counseling in schools in Syria exposed me to a situation, when I was not sure whether people around me (management, teachers, and students) had any understanding of my work as a counselor or not. In the present study, I have attempted to respond to my own query. This study explored how principal, teachers, school counselor and students understood counseling service in a private school in Karachi, Pakistan. For this purpose, I conducted this study within the qualitative research paradigm. Semi-structured interview, focus group discussion, document analysis were used as tools to generate data. The school's principal, two teachers of grade eight, the school counselor, four students (who utilized the counseling service) and fifteen students (who did not utilize the counseling service) participated in the study. Findings of the study indicate that school counseling was unanimously viewed as a strategy for solving students' problems. However, the school counselor considered it a strategy to enable students to solve their own problems. School counseling was also considered as a means to provide students with emotional support, which was not available to them otherwise in schools' everyday mechanical routines. Furthermore, the school counselor was required to extend motherly affection' and to act as a big sister or brother' to the students. The stakeholders' expectations of school counselor ranged between solving students' day-to- day problems regarding studies, and also teaching the teachers counseling skills. The study also identifies the inherent tension between the school counselor and teachers. This tension seemed rooted in two factors. Firstly, school counseling is quite a recent phenomenon in schools, which is still in the process of being accepted by various stakeholders. In this particular case, the counselor is attempting to make her place in very conventional trio of teacher, student. and school. Secondly, the procedure used for counseling such as students being called from teaching and learning session, and school counselor observing teachers to check students' particular complaints may have caused teachers' disapproval of school counseling. The research also found an absence of role ambiguity, which has been found in research generally done about counseling and counselors' role in other contexts. Clarity regarding school counselor's role was found at all levels (management, teachers and students). However, procedures used for offering counseling service were not clear. This led to some students' dissatisfaction of the school counselor's ability to maintain confidentiality. In fact, the major challenge which the school counselor faced was the confidentiality issue. Students expressed reluctance to utilize the counseling service because of the confidentiality issue. This study has a particular significance for schools as it draws the attention of institutions such as the Aga Khan University-Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) to view school counseling as an important strategy that can contribute to school improvement efforts by the virtue of paying attention to students' different needs.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library