What ELSAs are able to do is provide emotional support. As they establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil they provide a reflective space where the pupil is able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings. The ELSA uses basic counselling skills (including active listening, problem clarification, open questions, thinking aloud, verbal and non-verbal prompts) to guide helping conversations.
They assist the pupil to reflect on their concerns and lead them explore possible strategies and solutions for themselves, (‘Could you imagine another way of responding in that situation?’ ‘How do you think x was feeling at that moment?’ ‘What would you have liked to have been able to say/do?’ ‘What do you think might have happened if…?’). Sometimes it is appropriate to suggest some possible coping strategies but the key is to do this tentatively and to leave the pupil with choices.
These is what the children at Heatherlands think about our ELSA sessions: -
"I feel a lot more confident because I was in the group 'self-esteem and confidence'. It has made me speak out more and just be me. It has helped me a lot. Happily, I'm not so shy anymore like I was." (Year 5 Pupil).