Around one in 10 young people in the UK experience significant emotional or behavioural problems. Schools are a particularly good place to tackle this because they are one of the few places that nearly all young people go to. In fact, evidence suggests that young people are 10 times more likely to attend a school-based intervention than to look for support elsewhere. One such intervention, school-based counselling, can provide young people with a space to talk through their problems, get things off their chest, and work out for themselves what they want to do in a supportive, confidential and understanding relationship. Initial evidence gathered through several small pilot studies indicate that a standardised form of this intervention, school-based humanistic counselling, may lead to improved well-being. A large and scientifically rigorous trial will help to test how effective this intervention is.

The ETHOS trial is registered with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number 10460622. Registration details for the study can be found here.


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 London. 
  • Eligible schools will receive a high quality, professional counselling service at no cost to the school (or to 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.

How to get involved with ETHOS

The ETHOS trial is now up and running, but we are very keen to expand our team. This is a rare opportunity to contribute to the development of evidence for humanistic/person-centred counselling for young people and we welcome applicants for a range of roles.


Recruitment of testers is open and ongoing.  If you are interested in joining our research team to administer quantitative outcome measures to research participants at three testing points throughout the school year please get in touch and we can let you know when the next training day may be scheduled for.

Testers will be allocated work in a range of London secondary schools and will work directly with the young people. Success applicants should have completed, or be currently studying, a postgraduate course in Psychology, Counselling, or a related discipline; have interest/experience of working with children and young people's mental health; knowledge of counselling psychotherapy research; excellent interpersonal and communication skills; able to travel in London to different sites; time flexibility throughout the school year (approx. 3-20 days over a two-year period); and a willingness to learn and engage in training when necessary. Testers will be paid £15 per testing meeting.

  • See job advert via this link
  • To find out more about the role, please email Tiffany Rameswari, ETHOS Project Administrator
  • If interested in applying for this post, please send your CV and a covering letter explaining how you meet the criteria to Tiffany Rameswari (details above).


Project team

The project is being led by Professor Mick Cooper from the University of Roehampton and will also involve researchers from the universities of Sheffield, Manchester, the London School of Economics, University College London, Metanoia Institute, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the National Children’s Bureau. The study will be supported by the Manchester-based UKCRC registered Clinical Trials Unit (MAHSC-CTU).

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. 

Young Persons Advisory Group

The young advisers sit on the trial steering committee (TSC) for the trial and have an important role in providing independent advice on the research from the perspective of young people. The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) coordinates the participation of the young people in the steering committee which, Professor Derek Bolton from King’s College London, chairs.

ETHOS Young Advisors

Three of the four members of the Young Persons Advisory Group for ETHOS at their first meeting in May 2016. 

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

ETHOS partners

Data protection

Due to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) which we’re sure you’ve already heard about, we have recently updated our privacy notice. This explains what data we collect, why we collect it, how we use it, who we share it with and other information relating to the privacy of participants’ data. This statement applies to the ETHOS project and its related project, AGENCY. For more information about GDPR in relation to either project please contact:

ETHOS: Megan Stafford, Project Manager:
AGENCY: Charlie Duncan, Phd student: