Supporting the Wellbeing of FET Students

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Eileen Patton, Donegal ETB Adult Guidance and Information Service Coordinator.

This month (September 2023) our Further Education and Training (FET) Service launched a new student counselling support service provided by Spectrum Life and managed by our Adult Guidance and Information Service. But what does this service look like and how will it support FET students? In this blog our Adult Guidance and Information Service Coordinator Eileen Patton tells us more about it.

Donegal ETB understands that from time-to-time our students encounter personal life challenges that can severely impact them on their programme, and in some cases can lead to a student taking the difficult decision to leave.  Over the years we have arranged counselling support for many students, which gave them the opportunity to explore their challenges in a safe and confidential environment and helped them to continue and complete their programme and progress successfully onto further studies or employment.

Donegal ETB can see the benefits of having a more structured student counselling support referral system and service in place for all our students. This is why we have introduced the new student counselling support service, which an external organisation called Spectrum.Life will be responsible for providing. This is a free and confidential service to all FET students.

A wellbeing app (information here) is also available for students which provides support across a wide range of additional areas including:

  • Digital fitness programmes
  • Nutrition guides and recipes
  • eLearning across multiple wellbeing topics
  • Self-guided meditation programme (BeCalm)
  • Wellbeing Podcasts (SoundSpace)

How can student counselling help?

Attending counselling can be helpful, to enable students to talk about any difficulties that they are encountering either personally or academically. Counselling can help students to get a new perspective on an issue they feel stuck with, help them to cope with an unexpected crisis or help them to develop healthy strategies to manage ongoing difficulties. Sometimes aspects of therapy can be challenging but over time can lead to a greater ability to cope with past, present or future issues.

How will a student know if it will be helpful to them?

If a student thinks they might be interested in talking confidentially to a counsellor, we would encourage them to contact us. We will set up an initial appointment for the student with the counselling support service, which can be in-person, online or a telephone call. After this first initial consultation with a counsellor the student can decide if counselling may be helpful for them, or the counsellor can explore with them what other relevant supports might be available to support them.

How many counselling sessions will a student be entitled to?

A student will be entitled to six counselling sessions initially (they may not need all six). However, if a student requires further additional sessions, this will be decided following the counselling support service giving a clinical rationale for it. Donegal ETB will then decide to sign off on a student availing of a further six sessions.

Who can use the student counselling support service?

This new counselling service will be available to all current students completing a Donegal ETB FET programme. This includes all programmes in the following full-time and part-time provision:

  • Adult Literacy
  • Apprenticeships
  • Back to Education Initiative (BTEI)
  • Community Education Support
  • Evening Training
  • Post Leaving Certificate (PLC)
  • Specialist Training Providers (STPs)
  • Specific Skills Training
  • Traineeships
  • Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)
  • Youthreach

How can a FET student avail of this new student counselling support service or find out further information?

If a student needs more information or would like to be referred for an initial counselling appointment, contact myself, Eileen Patton, in the Adult Guidance and Information Service (Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm) on 074 9178088 or email

This information is also be available in the Student Hub section of the Donegal ETB website under the Supports for Student section.