Beth is 11 years old and is in year 6 at school. She has been referred for assessment to a child counsellor by the school guidance counsellor, who is concerned about her low self-esteem, poor self-concept and low affect. The child counsellor has been informed that Beth joined the school in year 4 and found it very difficult to establish friendships. She shared a close friendship with a student, Sally, who has since left the school as her family moved to another area. Beth has been bullied for being an ‘attention seeker’ by her peers. The bullying has been attended to but Beth has made little effort to connect with peers.
Beth has learned to trust and share her feelings with the school guidance counsellor, but she is still withdrawn and appears mistrustful of others. Beth has made statements like “I feel like an alien”, “I hate myself” and “no-one likes me”. She is described as warm and gentle with a fragile disposition. However she is quite self-reliant, and tends to display perfectionist traits in her work and appearance. Academically Beth is a high achiever and is meticulous with her work. She is an avid reader and can often be seen sitting in the school grounds reading or in the library.
Beth resides with her mother, Jane. Her parents divorced when she was 8 years old. She has fortnightly weekend contact with her father, Robert. Jane is a lawyer and works long hours, which requires Beth to go to before-school care and after-school care every day. Robert has his own business which requires him to travel regularly. Both parents have not re-partnered and Beth wishes that her parents would get back together. Her parents are often too busy to support school activities and Beth is aware of other parents participating in the school community. With Beth’s consent, the parents were informed of the school’s concerns. They were responsive and willing to arrange counselling support for Beth.