Guidance Counselling Department

He aha te mea nui o tea ao? / What is the most important thing in the world? 

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. / It is people, it is people, it is people. 

 Your OC Guidance Counsellors, Terry and I  send you our warmest wishes and special thoughts that you are being well in your family bubble. Like you I can’t wait to be out of this lockdown, but despite its significant challenges it’s so important that we keep our thinking rational based on fact and don’t move into overthinking.. When we move into “stinking thinking” like catastrophising or fatalistic  thinking we know our feelings will be a mirror of our thoughts and the emotional spiral down will cause us to behave in ways that we can regret. I try to stay in the present being mindful that the past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today, the present, is a gift. I encourage you to reframe your current thinking so it is more helpful and reality based. That way you get to feel more comfortable in your own skin.   

 During this period of self –isolation I am available during school hours for online counselling and support to all our amazing students and their wonderful families. I have set up a room where I can talk with you confidentially on the Zoom app you use for online learning. I have set up another safe, secure counselling site also. We can contact each other on You can ring or text me on my school mobile; 021 591 673 and some students chat with me on the Teams app. 

Warmest wishes 



Guidance Counselling Department


 He aha te mea nui o tea ao? / What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. / It is people, it is people, it is people.


Our Otahuhu College Guidance Counsellor, Mary Castles (HOD), is professionally trained and work according to the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) Code of Ethic which means that confidentiality is maintained unless there is an imminent risk to safety.

Mary works collaboratively, with her primary focus aimed at engaging therapeutically with students so that they are able to academically work and achieve to their optimum level and every person at our college feels safe, secure and connected to each other. Mary is passionate about developing our Guidance whare as a place of safety and shelter that everyone can access openly.

The guiding principles in all interactions with our school community is reflected in Mary:

  • Being genuinely engaged in the therapeutic relationship
  • Having unconditional positive regard for our young people
  • Feeling empathy for the young person
  • Clearly communicating these attitudes

Through the counselling process students are encouraged to explore their difficulties and concerns, and are supported to find new solutions or ways of coping.

People might seek counselling for a variety of reasons:

  • Difficulties at home or school
  • Low self esteem
  • Bullying
  • Abuse
  • Grief and loss
  • Anxiety
  • To make better informed decisions
  • Support for problem solving and finding resolutions
  • Depression
  • Managing anger
  • Stress management

Whatever your concern a counsellor will be happy to assist you.

A counsellor may also:

  • See you on your own or with support people
  • Give you information
  • Provide referrals for specific help
  • Act on your behalf with your consent
  • Facilitate mediation to resolve conflict

Referrals are welcome from students, from parents and from staff. An appointment system is used to enable Counsellors to give our students uninterrupted sessions. Counsellors offer individual and group counselling, mediation and Restorative Justice facilitation and advocacy. They share a commitment of working towards a socially healthy and emotionally safe school. Parents can contact Mary by telephone, 9634025 or alternatively they can email Mary 

Students can drop in to P12 Guidance Department at the start of the day (between 8.00 and 8.30) or at interval or lunchtime to make an appointment with a counsellor. Self referral forms are available by the door – just fill out the form and post it in the locked letterbox. You can ask a friend, parent, teacher, whanau leader or any staff member to make a referral for you. You can also refer a friend if you are worried about them. Just fill in the referral form with their name on it and post it in the letterbox. A large number of students attend counselling each week for a wide range of issues. Students of all academic levels, and from all ethnicities and age groups are represented.

If appropriate, and with parental consent, students can be referred, free of charge, to Whirinaki or the Kari Centre (located in Greenlane Clinical Centre) for psychological support. This can be recommended when students face depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other mental health issues.

Student Led Initiatives in the Counselling Department

Counsellors and students run a number of programmes within our school which helps us to spread our message of supporting each other, stopping harassment, building respectful relationships and celebrating diversity.  Our student Peace Ambassadors and Peer Mediators work closely with Guidance by role modelling our college ethos of using our words, our voices, to support, encourage and include one another. Regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality we support, encourage and include everyone. Diversity Group meets with Mary and our external facilitator, Torranice, every fortnight and Peer Mediators work in our Guidance group room at lunchtimes to help resolve conflict between students. Peer Mediator referral forms are located by the letterbox.

Counselling Group Programmes

We have two proactive group programmes to support students. These are the Positive Pathways Programme and Travellers Programme. (links below)

The internet has some useful information about counselling / mental health issues. Here are some good sites that students or caregivers may wish to look at: