One of the central services that Iowa Family Counseling is proud to offer is school-based therapy. Though many of our clients take advantage of this service, many families are unfamiliar with school-based therapy and have questions when considering this option for their children.
What is school-based therapy?
School-based clinical therapy provides regular therapy treatment with a mental health clinician within a school building. The services provided are the same as a patient would receive in a clinical office setting with the convenience of not having to travel to the office.
Therapy allows individuals to explore their feelings, beliefs, and behaviors, in addition to working through challenging or influential memories, identifying aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understanding themselves and others, and setting personal goals. Therapists help clients work toward desired changes in themselves. Though some clients see improved symptoms quickly, lasting and meaningful change takes time, patience, and perseverance.
Each individual is unique in their needs as well as their treatment plan. Individualized services are provided to treat the specific mental health needs of the client. Common services rendered are a combination of individual talk therapy, play therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT,) dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT,) and acceptance & commitment therapy (ACT.)
How is school-based therapy different than the services provided by a school counselor?
To begin with, Iowa Family Counseling's Therapists are not employed or compensated by the school district for their services. Therapists come to the school with the sole purpose of serving the mental health care needs of their clients. School counselors provide essential and important services to students, but they do not have the time or training to handle all of the mental health care needs of their students.
Clinical therapists have different education and training than school counselors. Therapists are licensed mental health specialists that have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues and illnesses. They use a variety of scientifically proven methods to help clients develop and achieve their individual treatment goals.
School Counselors are amazing individuals who wear many hats and serve many needs within the schools. While they do provide counseling for individuals and small groups, they also serve in a number of different roles, such as providing instruction to groups or classes on social skills, handling scheduling needs, addressing the needs of under-resourced students, and so much more. School Counselors are the first line of mental health intervention for many students. Often, they are the ones that recommend or refer students to receive additional mental health therapy services.
What is the relationship between Iowa Family Counseling and the schools?
When Iowa Family Counseling and schools work together, students are able to receive consistent, quality care while minimizing disruptions to their school day. Each entity agrees to provide essential services and accommodations to meet the needs of the children receiving therapy services.
What the School Provides:
A space that allows for confidential therapy sessions
Referrals to the therapist/mental healthcare provider
Assistance with scheduling therapy sessions to provide the least disruption to the client’s school day
Pertinent information regarding student behaviors or concerns
Regular school support services including those related to counseling services, social supports, 504 plans or IEPs
What the Therapist Provides:
Mental health evaluation; diagnosing and treating mental health disorders
Establishing treatment goals and plans in collaboration with the client/student and their parents
Working with school personnel to schedule appointments
Collaboration and communication with parents on progress and ways to support their child
Multidisciplinary collaboration surrounding basic information or diagnosis to support the implementation of 504 or IEP plans
How does Iowa Family Counseling collaborate with teachers and the school?
How do teachers and school personnel support students receiving therapy services?
School personnel can support student clients by providing a safe, discrete place to meet for sessions. They also can provide referrals for care and time for the student to be seen within the school day. Teachers and other school personnel can also support the student by interacting with them in a kind, patient, and understanding manner.
If a student is struggling significantly in the classroom setting, teachers can contact parents, school counselors, school administrators, mentor teachers, instructional coaches, or Area Education Association (AEA) consultants for additional classroom support. Therapists can be included in the correspondence for reference or input, but they are not trained in classroom management strategies.
Do the therapists talk to the teachers about my child?
Due to confidentiality and ethics agreements, therapists are prohibited from sharing information with school personnel unless it has been specifically granted by the parent. School personnel may reach out to therapists to share information on the student’s progress or to relay concerns that they may have.
Therapists may share some tips for working with particular students from time to time, but improving school behavior is not the primary goal of school-based therapy. However, the treatment of underlying mental health issues may increase student success with academics and behaviors in the school environment. Teachers may email or contact Therapists to discuss observations or concerns, but time is not billable to insurance companies or compensated.
How frequently will my child receive therapy services?
Most commonly, clients/students are seen on a weekly basis for about 45 minutes. This time and frequency can vary based on the needs and goals of the client. In order to minimize disruptions to their school day, Iowa Family Counseling works with school counselors to find a regular meeting time that fits well into the student's schedule.
If my child is seen at school, how can I check in with the therapist to discuss my concerns?
Parents/guardians remain actively involved in the care of their children through phone calls, emails, and informational handouts or resources. Therapists will provide periodic updates to parents/guardians and parents/guardians can contact the therapist at any time.
What kinds of results or behavior changes can I expect to see from my child?
All people are unique as are their needs and have different goals. Some people respond very quickly and effectively to their treatment plans while others take time to develop the skills, strategies, and mindset needed to meet their goals.
Is school-based therapy right for my child?
Only you can answer this for your child and your family. There are many reasons that parents choose to take advantage of school-based counseling services while others find that in-office sessions or teletherapy are better choices for their families. Rest assured, that whatever you choose, Iowa Family Counseling will provide collaborative, personal care for your child.