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Project aim

ETHOS aims to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of School-Based, Humanistic Counselling (SBHC) by conducting the first full powered 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, have been recruited in England.

· Eligible schools are receiving 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 are taking 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, the effectiveness of school-based humanistic counselling is evaluated 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 as Principal Investigator, Peter Pearce, Faculty Head from Metanoia Institute as Clinical Lead for the Trial, Charlie Jackson from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 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 and Dr. Cathy Street from the National Children’s Bureau.

The project is funded by an Economic and Social Research Council grant award ( Total around £1 million for three years from April 2016 to April 2019. For papers on the pilot RCT that came before this trial see Peter Pearce on Researchgate.