Press Release: Emotional support key after diagnosis of dyslexia

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy

Dyslexic students need high levels of emotional support and the positive reactions of parents, peers and teachers, in order to prevent their diagnosis from negatively affecting their academic success and sense of identity and wellbeing.

This is the conclusion of research by Professor Robert Burden of the University of Exeter, which will be presented today, Saturday 10 October 2009, at the Annual Conference of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). The event will take place at Newcastle Civic Centre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The study aimed to investigate the developing sense of identity of adolescent students who suffer from dyslexia. It examined whether they necessarily develop poor feelings of self-esteem and learned helplessness and, if not, what might be some of the key factors contributing to positive feelings of self-worth and ultimate academic success.

More than 80 students participated in the study, completing interviews which aimed to identify key incidents and persons in their lives that had helped shape their views of themselves as learners.

The research identified significant differences in the self-identity and academic success between those students attending a specialist school for dyslexics and those from comprehensive schools, which appeared to be related to the support received and quality of their learning experiences.

Professor Burden said: “Dyslexics are first and foremost human beings trying to make sense of the difficulties, the reasons for which are often overlooked or misunderstood by schools, teachers, and sometimes even parents. How they are responded to will therefore play an important part in their developing view of themselves and their later sense of well being.  My research has identified key milestones in their developing sense of identity, and shown that, in many cases, a therapeutic approach is needed by the time they reach secondary school and beyond.”

For further information please contact: Alison Croft, BACP Press and Public Relations Manager, on 01455 883342 (office), 07989 416665 (mobile) or or Phillip Hodson, BACP Media Consultant, on 0207 794 2838 or

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