Loneliness and peer counselling : an exploratory study in Saudi Arabia
The first aim of the research was to determine the extent of loneliness among Saudi adolescents and its relationship to psychological and demographic factors. The phenomenon was assessed by means of quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the "meanings" of loneliness. Results indicated a high level of loneliness amongst adolescents in Saudi Arabia. Those with high level of loneliness were found to have fewer friends and scored statistically significantly higher on other psychological measures, particularly depression and anxiety,and lower on self-esteem. An implication of this finding was the need to provide adolescents with a support programme to meet their needs at this critical stage of their development.The argument throughout this study was that the existent counselling/pastoral provision was inadequate to provide adolescents in secondary school with appropriate psychological and personal support.The second aim of the study was to test the applicability of a peer counselling/support programme to prevent loneliness among young people. Implementation of this programme was carried out with comprehensive evaluation, which focused on the peer counsellors and the populations they served. Findings were encouraging in relation to both parties.Those young people who participated as peer helpers reported gains in personal development and said that their participation had benefitted their general lives; clients also reported high satisfaction with the service. Students reported high levels on two areas of social support as measured by Social Provisions Scale, namely guidance and reliable alliance, although a reduction on level of loneliness was not achieved. Additionally, formal record of the school counsellors showed less behavioural and educational problems within the school.Recommendations were made for the introduction of peer counselling programmes in Saudi school system.