Empathy Training Through Arts to School Counselors

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Empathy Training Through Arts to School Counselors

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul, Turkey
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are working on an arts based empathy-building training for school counselors. We believe counselors are able to create more peaceful environment in schools.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Researchers point out the overwhelming need for effective empathy building interventions targeting children and youth in Turkey. “The need for optimism-promoting programs is clear when there is a lack of strong personal resources to cope with peer rejection, neglect and bullying, when there is high space for empathy in school environment. To help the development of more adaptive skills of Turkish youth positive initiatives need to be applied in school settings (Kağıtçıbaşı, 2001.) The main aim of preventive /interventional programs promoting peace among young people is to help youth develop more empathetic and humanitarian approaches, socio-emotional development and inter-group attitudes.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This project plans to enhance key skills and competencies in 15 counselors and 15 counselor-candidates in Istanbul to enable them to better fulfil their professional roles, by providing them with creative and practical pedagogical tools to support the building of preventive empathetic approaches in schools. The professional skills to be addressed match international standards for effective counseling, and an overall philosophy and ethical approach concomitant with leaders building a culture of empathy and peace in global communities. ‘School counselors not only serve a vital and demanding role in maximizing student success through leadership, advocacy and collaboration, but are expected to promote equity and access to educational experiences, support a safe learning environment and work to safeguard the human rights of all members of the school community (Sandhu, 2000)’.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project uniquely (through the arts) addresses the counselor’s challenge to combine a deep understanding of empathy and how it may be built up in a school community. Pragmatic and creative activities the councelors will receive will serve childrens’ needs and form a peace culture in schools. This project will support 30 school counsellors to develop professional skills and competencies over 24 training hours. Trainees will be organised into professional peer teams for practice (15 paired teams who will work in 4 targeted schools) and will be supervised by a specialist mentor (twice a month for each team) throughout duration of the project. Monitored classroom implementation will be carried out with primary age class groups of 30 children each in 4 schools, reaching a total of 5,400 children. The project will reach out to families and community by communicating both process and the outcomes of building preventive empathetic approaches through the arts. The program is designed as a series of model activities. Non Violent Communication, Theater Of The Oppressed and Restorative Circles excercises are a few innovative methods that the program will incorporate for effective empathy building. The model includes empathatic communication, coping with aggression, awareness and respect for diversity. Empathy building addresses potentially discriminatory issues such as language, culture, gender and disability. Participants will engage in such activities as music, body percussion, movement, role play and drama, visual arts and design to nurture positive self concept.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several NGOs, agencies and academic institutions working on the issue of empathatic conflict resolution through training school counselors. Yet this project is unique with its pragmatic approach to solving conflicts through the use of arts. Other trainings concentrate on a theoretical approach to counselor’s work. Our program uniquely combines essential hands-on elements of peace education and conflict resolution trainings; actions are framed around using arts, modelling the active classroom and serving the professional needs of counselors as the identified multipliers for empathy building in schools. Perception of available counseling programmes could impact participant motivation and stakeholder appreciation of essential innovative components in the program.
About You
Foundation for the Advancement of Counseling in Education (YÖRET)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Foundation for the Advancement of Counseling in Education (YÖRET)

Organization Country

, XX, Istanbul

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX, Istanbul

Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Arts based empathy-building training for school counselors to create more peaceful environment in schools.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Arts are used to provide school counselors with creative activities for fostering empathy among children through learning and practice.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The counselor who has developed a deep understanding of empathy through arts has a multiplier effect in a school community. One counselor reaches on average 1000 students in a school through his/her work over the course of a school year.

As a result of previous projects, participants (over 100,000 children trained by 100 counselor trainees) have shown increases in self concept and socio-emotional development. 40 high school students studied developed more empathetic and humanitarian approaches in inter-group attitudes.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

30 program participants will receive creative approaches for building-in empathy into everyday classes in schools and will enhance collaboration skills. Average 5,400 child beneficiaries will have increased skills in communication and emotional literacy, awareness of diversity issues and problem solving.

Good practice empathy education model will be presented to the Ministry of National Education of Turkey (which is in need of such a curriculum) to be included in the formal training curriculum. Principles and practices of peace education through empathy-building will be made available for widespread use in relevant institutions.

The training will affect 70-90% of participants’ emotional intelligence and conflict resolution skills which are directly related to empathy development.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Challenges: Low status allocated to the arts in education and collaborative socio-emotional learning in Turkey. Also of concern: existing educational expectations,prejudices and stereotyping, readiness level of counselors, schools and children for training, the educational system itself, readiness of academic institutions to collaborate, and management of financial constraints.
The above challenges can be overcome by trialling our innovative activities in controlled settings - careful ongoing monitoring and scaffolding of applications and gathering diagnostic data to support growth and change. We will utilise existing good relations with relevant stakeholder institutions throughout the project to promote public awareness, engaging families and stakeholders through active communication.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

30 counselors are equipped to recognize anti-social behaviours among children and engage them in empathetic problem solving.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Develop and resource empathy-based creative training program with arts activities in it.

Task 2

Identify and engage 7 academic institutions in Istanbul for screening potential program participants.

Task 3

Deliver empathy-based creative training program (8 sessions) to 30 program participants from 7 academic institutions in Istanbul

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

30 counselors working in pairs provide 5,400 children in 4 schools in Istanbul with opportunities to build empathy skills.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Identify 4 schools to participate in implementation stage. Place 30 trained participants for 6 months in those institutions.

Task 2

Supervise every 15 days trainees’ application of skills in the 4 schools. Professional trainer provides constructive feedback.

Task 3

Assess and report outcomes and program impact on participants and children.

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

Since 2010 when YORET and BUPEARC first collaborated in training school counselors, the counselor trainees repeatedly commented on the value of hands-on peace education activities. Ayse, new counselor who graduated one year before, described her training experience as positive and a definite contribution to her professional formation. “The training definitely contributed to my classroom management and communication skills, and the tools were helpful for building on the theoretical academic focus I received at my University,” she said. Nilufer, trained counselor shared, "From day one I was able to encourage students to use their initiatives, to help them produce art work without judging if they did a good or a bad job. I used physical activities, developmental games, and skill builders in my work. I am proud to be able to do all these."

This training in 2010 enhanced the counselors’ practice by more effective reach out to children and young people. This was when we had our "Aha!".

Tell us about your partnerships

YORET works in cooperation with the Ministry of National Education in Turkey through an existing protocol. This project for training counselors is done with 7 universities in Istanbul that have an Education Department and a counseling program. Our project partner in developing and implementing the project is Bogazici University Peace Education Application and Research Center (BUPEARC.)

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

YORET has 30 professionals who make input into projects on ad hoc basis. YORET also has full time administrative and financial specialists who will be made available for the project. BUPEARC has a group of 10 qualified trainers who are contributing to development and implementation of the program on Empathy Training. Both YORET and BUPEARC have at least 5 volunteers who are helping with everyday issues of project implementation.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We are looking to develop a network of professionals and institutions who would utilise teaching empathy through arts, take on board talented artists and educators to develop our program further and collaborate with Childrens Rights organizations since our project aims to support children’s rights of self-expression.