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Counseling for Children
Being healthy is key to a long, happy life. That includes a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. Sometimes kids struggle with how to deal with certain feelings, events and situations. Some need help understanding how to control their behavior and emotions, or how to manage stress.
If a child’s behavior is causing repeated problems at school or is disrupting family life, it’s important to get help. When children have emotional or behavioral problems, the earlier they get treatment, the easier it is to help them. Kids and teens can benefit greatly from professional counseling when they have problems they can’t cope with alone.
In school counseling services
Lutheran Counseling and Family Services of Wisconsin has been providing In School Counseling services to Milwaukee area schools for over 20 years for children identified as being at risk for -or who are experiencing -mental health concerns. This includes:
- Attention deficit
- Displaced anger
- Anti-social behaviors
All of these behaviors can affect social/educational development. LCFS provides participating schools with counselors that are state licensed and certified, with additional qualifications in substance abuse counseling, children’s counseling and family counseling.
Counseling in a School Setting
By offering services within a school settings, parents are assured their child is receiving quality professional care without the worry of transportation concerns, working around schedules or taking a child to a clinical setting.
When a child is referred for counseling, the first step is to ensure parents understand the situation and are in favor of counseling. Often there is a negative stigma associated with mental health, however more people are realizing that what was once deemed as “bad behavior” could potentially be an underlying mental health issue and early intervention is critical.
With parental permission, the student is evaluated by an LCFS counselor and a personal plan of goals and progress points are established. Weekly sessions will be scheduled which are discreetly and seamlessly woven into the child’s school day. During these personalized sessions, students are counseled and taught skills for conflict resolution, problem solving, healthy peer relationships and education to prevent substance abuse. This intervention can help in reducing potential long term consequences such as dropping out of school, incarceration, addiction and suicide.
For teachers and administrators, working with a troubled student can help to improve the classroom dynamics and promote a healthier learning environment for all students.
What Happens in Counseling Sessions?
The LCFS counselor will work very closely with parents, teachers and administrators to ensure counseling is done discreetly and woven seamlessly into the child’s school day. A student will be seen regularly until individualized goals are met.
Therapists will share activities and ideas that focus on learning the skills each individual child needs to improve upon. They talk through feelings, solve problems and provide support as kids develop new skills and confidence. Students are taught skills for conflict resolution, problem solving, coping skills, stress reduction, healthy peer relationships and/or education to prevent substance abuse.
Parents, teachers and administrators are kept appraised of the sessions to ensure all understand the reasons behind the child’s behavior and are on the same page in helping that student achieve success. The counselors will often work directly with teachers offering suggestions and techniques in dealing with specific students and situations and also with parents to provide a stronger continuity of support between school and home life for that child.
There is no cost to the school for this service and minimal costs to parents. With insurance coverage, the health insurance coverage will be billed. A co-payment may or may not be required, depending on a family’s insurance policy. LCFS does offer a generous sliding fee scale and assistance to those who cannot afford payments. This is made possible through generous grant support provided by local foundations who share a common interest in supporting, empowering and developing youth. See a couple listing of donation foundation here.
Facts and Figures
- As high as 20% of all children experience some type of mental health issue.
- Most of these children are not receiving needed services 75-80% of the time.
- Attention Deficit/hyperactivity disorder is highest among elementary and middle school students (ages 5-12) followed by anxiety. Signals include fidgeting, distraction, poor concentration and irritability.
- Anxiety-related disorders are most common at the high school level (ages 13-18). Common signals include missed school, feeling unsafe, depression, social isolation and change in sleeping/eating patterns.
- Providing counseling in a school environment can dramatically improve these numbers. By working in collaboration with the schools, LCFS counselors can advocate for students, help teachers with classroom dynamics and provide convenience and peace of mind for parents. Timing is convenient during the school day and no additional transportation needs are required.
*Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2011.