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The ETHOS Project

Project aim

ETHOS aims to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of school-based, humanistic counselling by conducting the first randomised controlled controlled trial of this type of  intervention. ETHOS brings together some of the UK's leading academics in counselling and psychotherapy to positively impact the national provision of mental health support for young people. Read more in our press release

How the trial works

  • Approximately 20 secondary schools who do not currently have counselling provision, will be recruited in England. 
  • Eligible schools will receive a high quality, professional counselling service at no cost to the school (or young people and their families) for two years.
  • More than 300 pupils aged 13-16 who are assessed as experiencing symptoms of emotional distress will take part in the project. Some of these young people will receive up to 10 weeks of school-based humanistic counselling, while others will receive their school’s usual pastoral care services.
  • At regular intervals, we will evaluate the effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling in terms of psychological well-being and distress.  At the end of the trial we will also evaluate outcomes related to educational performance, and  whether the benefits of providing a counselling service justify the costs.
  • No pupil will be disadvantaged by taking part or not taking part in the project.

Project team

The multi-centre project team includes Professor Mick Cooper for University of Roehampton, Dr. Peter Pearce from Metanoia Institute, Charlie Jackson form the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Dr. Cathy Street from the National Children’s Bureau as well as Professor Michael Barkham from University of Sheffield, Professor Pete Bower from University of Manchester, Professor Jenni Beecham from the London School of Economics and Dr. Andy Fugard from University College London.


See a video of Professor Mick Cooper’s inaugural professorial lecture on school-based counselling and the ETHOS study. Download the slides from the lecture. 


The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council grant award for three years from April 2016 to April 2019.