Of children living in the United States, 13% to 20%
experience a mental illness in a given year, and
surveillance over the past two decades has shown the
prevalence of these conditions to be increasing.1  

For about 35 years, Arbour Counseling Services has offered a clinical program of behavioral health services to children and adolescents in their school setting during school hours. Students may be referred for evaluation by their parents, teachers, guidance counselors, community-based support and emergency services or by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. That referral can be for any number of reasons, the child may be disruptive in class, have academic or developmental issues or trouble regulating their emotions.

Katie Goodman, LMHC, director of the ACS, Jamaica Plain School-based Program says, “Teachers may sense that something is going on but don’t always have the time or training to be able to understand and reach out to that individual child.”

Katie adds that the benefits extend beyond the classroom. “One of the most compelling benefits is the significant reach that school counseling has, which is often beyond their school life. In working with the child and that child’s family and teachers, their academic performance improves alongside their emotional, family and social life.”

“Schools appreciate that it is a complementary service,” says Maria Petersen, Director of the School-based Program at ACS, Woburn, “and can even serve as a wraparound service, communicating with family members, service providers, teachers and any involved agency, which always benefits the child.”

Counseling sessions are typically 45-50 minutes once a week and can extend through the summer. Sessions continue as long as the child is in need of the counseling. For example, Juliet Wheeler, MSW, LICSW, Director of the School-based Program at ACS, Lowell, usually counsels elementary school children, but will continue with the child, as needed, into middle school and even high school.

School-based Programs are offered by five ACS centers: ACS, Allston works with over 500 children in 15 schools; ACS, Jamaica Plain, 33 children in 7 schools; ACS Lowell, 260 children in 36 schools; ACS, Norwell (new), 25 children in 1 school; ACS, Woburn, 330 children in 23 schools.

Program components include: individual and group therapy, including specialized groups; on-going consultations with parents and school personnel; and clinical consultation to teachers, aides, school psychologists and guidance counselors. Psychological, neuropsychological and educational testing and evaluations are available as needed.

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From AHS News, March/April 2016