Counselling and wellbeing support services in Australian muslim schools

Aminah Mah

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated] This study set out to develop understandings of issues involved for school counselling services in Australian Muslim schools for students in secondary levels of schooling. The objective of the study was to develop theory and principles of practice for a culturally appropriate counselling service for students in Australian Muslim schools. It was hypothesised that the needs of students and the delivery of counselling services for Muslim students are unique due to the largely migrant and nonhomogenous cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the Muslim community in Australia, as well as the role religion plays in living as a minority group in mainstream Australian society.

A qualitative approach was adopted to gain in-depth and contextual understandings of this topic. The research was located within the Interpretivist paradigm in the form of a perspectival study. Appreciative Inquiry was chosen to structure and guide the semi-structured interview questions and its four-D process (Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny) was used in the presentation of the research findings. Grounded theory strategies of purposeful sampling for participant recruitment, data collection and coding in data analysis were employed. The inquiry commenced with a pilot study which indicated a strong need to expand the scope of the study from counselling to wellbeing support due to the wider and deeper understanding of care in an Islamic context.

A total of 56 participants were interviewed from three cities with the largest Muslim populations in Australia: Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Fifteen of the participant-associated schools were independent Muslim schools while three schools were non-religious independent schools that implemented Islamic values in their school ethos and served a student body almost all of whom were Muslims.

Findings revealed a host of complex issues and ideals that participants in this study desired for their students’ holistic wellbeing. Variations in current practices in each school were as diverse as the communities themselves. Seven propositions were developed.

Proposition One is that some Muslim schools have been products of Muslims’ concerns over their future generations’ faith and economic mobility, and, that their operations reflect a certain mindset for success, which at times, have inadvertently compromised students’ holistic wellbeing.

Proposition Two is that school imams and counsellors are key stakeholders to raise their school community’s awareness and to facilitate acceptance of professional and culturally appropriate counselling support for Muslim students, whereas school leaders have a responsibility over the holistic wellbeing of students including those with specific and special needs.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • Chapman, Elaine, Supervisor
  • Chapman, Anne, Supervisor
  • O'Neill, Marnie, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - May 2015


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