BISP is committed to the wellbeing of all its students, and mental health – especially at this time – is of great importance. That’s why this year we have increased our school counselling team from one to two counsellors. 

Ms Jacqui Brelsford, who has worked in the University Advising team at BISP since 2016, will now work alongside our whole school counsellor, Ms Amber Godfrey, who joined BISP in Term 1 2020.

Together, Amber and Jacqui will provide more emotional support and counselling to all students and extend their work into the Primary School. Over the past five weeks, Amber and Jacqui have been getting to know our Key Stage 1 and 2 students in-person and online by reading books and delivering wellbeing sessions to students in the Phuket Safety Schools Sandbox. 

We chatted to Amber and Jacqui about their priorities for the year ahead, and how they plan to deliver effective counselling and emotional support to our students and staff and nurture the wellbeing of our community. 

What is the difference between emotional support and counselling?

Emotional support is part of counselling. All staff at BISP offer emotional support to students as part of their daily interactions. School Counsellors are qualified members of staff who support the mental, emotional, social and academic needs of the students outside of a specific academic subject. Counselling involves individual meetings, group meetings, parent workshops, staff training, advocacy and consultation to ensure the overall wellbeing of the people we work with. 

Amber, what areas of wellbeing are you focused on at the moment? 

Compassion. Specifically, Self-compassion. This is something that comes up a lot in my work and I often challenge students to treat themselves the way they would a friend. One of the ways we can build our resilience is to treat ourselves kindly when we face challenges. Having self-compassion also helps us stay motivated because we are less focused on the outcome and more on the process. 

What is a hope you have for this academic year? 

Aside from a full return to school, my hope is that every student will feel connected to their peers and have strong, positive relationships. It can be difficult to remember how to navigate friendships and the ins and outs of school after any absence. Having trust in your community is one way to help you through any tough day. And if you’re struggling in this area, please come find Ms Brelsford or me. We are here to help! 

Jacqui, what areas of wellbeing are you focused on at the moment? 

Gratitude. Each week I write two or three thank you notes to my colleagues to show I appreciate something they have done for me. Gratitude has been proven to not only make the recipient happy but also the person demonstrating gratitude. It’s a win-win situation! While we are learning online we lose some of the personal connections that come from being in school. This is a great way to foster those relationships, so I encourage everyone to give it a try. 

What are you looking forward to most in your new role? 

I am excited to be working with students across the school in a different capacity. It’s very different talking to reception students about feelings than it is talking to Year 13 students about university entrance requirements. Nonetheless, building relationships that help students feel supported and able to face whatever comes their way is always at the core of what I want to do each day. Students can only flourish academically if they have good wellbeing. The fact that BISP students now have one more person to support them to be their best is fantastic. I can’t wait to get to know everyone in this capacity better. 

For more information on British International School, Phuket please contact [email protected].