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Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 1C - Workshop

Mainstreaming support: Reflective groups for speech and language therapists in training facilitated by counsellors

Miss Kirsty Harrison - School of Health Sciences, City, University of London
Mr David Glyn - Student Counselling and Mental Health Services (LEaD), City, University of London
Marie-Therese Worthington - School of Health Sciences, City, University of London
Lynne Marks - Student Counselling and Mental Health Services (LEaD), City, University of London
Abigail Levin - School of Health Sciences, City, University of London
Midge Seymour-Roots - Student Counselling and Mental Health Services (LEaD), City, University of London

Motivation for this project was around supporting student success, with the intention of facilitating student speech and language therapists to develop resilience, a quality currently high in demand in the National Health Service.  The aims were worked on collaboratively by counsellors and staff from the School of Health Sciences.

Perceived stress levels have been found to be high in healthcare students (Pau and Croucher, 2003; Shapiro, Shapiro and Schwartz, 2000). Further to the usual pressures that students experience, healthcare students like speech and language therapists (SLTs) are subjected to additional demands, such as dealing with emotions that may arise from working with sick people or children where there are child protection issues in the home (Gribble et al, 2017; Birks, McKendree and Watts, 2009).

Additionally, SLT students need to develop effective working relationships with a wide range of people and stake holders.  Understandably, many students find placements emotionally challenging.

To support BSc3 SLT students with this, the Student Counselling Service and Speech and Language Therapy academics worked collaboratively to establish professional development groups which first ran in 2015.  The focus of the professional development groups was fluid and determined by the individual participants, in line with a counselling approach.  The groups offered an opportunity to discuss aspects of placements that students found challenging and to consider their responses to these experiences.

This workshop will present the history of the different encounters with student anxiety, from the standpoint of SLT academics and counsellors.  We will present the process, challenges and outcomes of setting up professional development groups collaboratively across professional services and academic teams, through a discussion which will incorporate:

*Origins of the group from SLT and counselling perspectives
*How the groups developed
*Presentation of themes from the groups
*Conversation with the delegates about the thoughts and issues it raises for them

Potential areas for discussion include:

  • What’s the experience of becoming identified with a particular department or profession?
  • How to facilitate explorative discussion between students and staff?
  • Benefits of project failure/difficulties
  • Wider benefits for the teams involved
  • Resilience in students and staff


Birks Y, McKendree J and Watt I, 2009, Emotional Intelligence and perceived stress in healthcare students: a multi-institutional, multi-professional survey. British Medical Council Medical Education, 9(61), 1-8.

Gribble N, Ladyshewsky RK, Parsons R, 2017, Fluctuations in the emotional intelligence of therapy students during clinical placements: Implication for educators, supervisors, and students.  Journal of Interprofessional Care, 31(1), p. 8-17.

Morrison J, Moffat K, 2001, More on medical student stress. Medical Education, 35(7), 617-618.

Pau AKH, Croucher R, 2003, Emotional intelligence and perceived stress in dental undergraduates. Journal of Dental Education, 67(9), 1023-28.

Shapiro S, Shapiro D, Schwartz G, 2000, Stress Management in Medical Education: A Review of the Literature. Academic Medicine, 75(7), 748-759.