School Counselling Services

At SSIS we recognize that the adolescent years can sometimes be difficult. When you add an international move into the mix and the uncertainty of starting at a new school, it is natural for students to experience anxiety. We understand this can happen and we are here for not only our students, but also our parents as well. At SSIS we provide a range of support programmes for students to help deal with some of the difficulties in transitioning. Our caring counseling staff and teachers are here to address the needs of our diverse learning population through the development of self-awareness, self-assurance and resilience in our students.
Pastoral expertise and emotional support at SSIS is provided by our school counselling team. The team is always ready to support students or families if the need exists. Working collaboratively with students, our team of counsellors build strong relationships and confidential bonds with students, encouraging them to explore their feelings, actions and relationships within the community. Students may self-refer or be referred by parents, staff or other students.
Counselling for our Early Years and Elementary students takes place in our cheerful and well-equipped Messy Play Room, fondly known as the messy play room. Children are encouraged to utilize a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, sand play and clay modelling to better express themselves and their feelings. This play-based philosophy allows our students to feel comfortable and at ease in their environment. Classroom teachers have a major responsibility for pastoral care and work closely with parents, while our Elementary School counselors support and nurture development.
Counselling for our Secondary students takes place in our counselling center. This is a safe zone in our school where students are free to express their thoughts, talk through their actions and work through emotions. Our counsellors are also on call to support students in times of stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Our homeroom teachers also take a structured approach and focus on topics including conflict resolution, time management, cyber-safety, and online ‘netiquette’ with our students. Additional pastoral expertise and support is provided by our School Counsellors who are always available and ready to help students or families in need.
Apart from student emotional support our counselling team plays an active role in the development of the SSIS wellbeing program and curriculum. Our counsellors regularly host parent and student workshops, coffee mornings themed around emotional well-being and other supportive community events.

Meet Our Team

Emma Barnes

I have worked in the therapeutic and educational field for over 25 years, as a Counsellor, Educator, Early Years Advisor, and Learning Support Coordinator.

I believe It is absolutely essential that children be embraced, listened to, and given a role in crafting a better future for themselves. I offer a flexible menu of services, tailored to enhance our childrens’ overall well-being, and to support the needs our vibrant SSIS community. My therapeutic work is rooted in Play and Arts Counselling. A strong multicultural approach is central to the way I practice.

I graduated with a B.Ed. (Hons) and gained EYP status at University of Norwich where I lectured in Education and Mental Health. I have an Advanced Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and completed four years professional training at Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute. I am committed to working in partnership with professionals and communities in promoting positive mental health and regularly deliver community workshops, training and present at International Conferences.

I have developed both professionally and personally in the USA, UK, Israel, Italy, the Middle East and am pleased to continue my journey here in China.


Joining SSIS in 2013, I have been given the unique opportunity to help students achieve their potential by tapping into their own learning styles. My aim is to guide students to develop a strong sense of self and to take ownership of their learning, while becoming caring and responsible members of their community.

I have a Master’s in Biochemistry from Case Western University, Ohio as well as a Teaching Certificate from Florida, USA. SSIS is an ideal environment for my education as it brings together the power of inquiry and learning across all disciplines.

I am from Detroit, Michigan and have also lived in India and Mexico. My family and I have been in China since 2008 and have loved our experience here. SSIS has been a big part of that experience for us, with both my kids graduating from SSIS and me being a Student Services Teacher for Elementary

Sophia Skytte

Before living and working internationally as an educator and counselor since leaving Vancouver, Canada in 2004, I graduated with a Bachelors of Education from the University of British Columbia and Bachelors of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Victoria. Working in England and China has provided me with ample opportunities to continue my worldly adventures and meet new friends. Before joining SSIS in August 2017 as a Counselor, I worked as an English and Humanities teacher, Academic Advisor, Student Services Coordinator, and Administrator. My desire to continue working with and supporting students in schools stem from my keen advocacy in the healthy wellbeing of young people, in which I then pursued and completed my Masters in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University.

At SSIS, I look forward to further developing my personal and professional growth by contributing to the personal and academic successes of our students.

Annalise Stephens

In my role as a Counsellor and Student Support Coordinator in the Secondary School, I am fortunate to be part of the Student Assistance Teams that form a support network around our students. Together with teachers, families, and external service providers, we work towards ensuring that all of our students enjoy equitable and meaningful access to our curriculum.

Prior to joining SSIS in 2016, I spent nine years teaching in Australia. I have a Bachelor of Communication, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, and I'm currently working towards a Master of Education.

Along with my husband and two daughters, I feel very lucky to be part of the SSIS team. We are privileged to live, work, and learn in such an inclusive and caring community.