Let’s call him “Zach,” though that’s not his real name. What was real for this angry 14-year-old eighth grader at a Pennsbury middle school was, as Family Service clinician Shevin Smith-Ward notes, severe difficulty expressing emotions and resolving conflicts. As a result of his disruptive behavior—with peers and teachers alike—his academic performance suffered and prompted his mother to enroll him in our long-standing School-Based Counseling program. This partnership with 22 schools across seven districts provides services for children and their families directly in the school setting.
Clinical therapists such as Shevin coordinate with school counselors, teachers and parents to help students succeed. Weekly therapy sessions teach students how to cope not only with anger management but a host of other challenges including depression, anxiety, childhood trauma, attention deficits, disappointments, poor frustration tolerance, irritability, and grief and loss.
In Zach’s year-long sessions with Shevin, conducted in “a safe space where he could come in and talk,” Zach learned relaxation and coping skills that helped him identify and deal with triggers for negative behaviors. Shevin provided Zach with guidance on how to communicate his feelings appropriately; and Zach applied those techniques to “avoid and walk away from conflict.” Zach’s eager participation in therapy and his motivation to change seem to have paid off. The significant personal and academic progress he made during the school year was acknowledged not only by Zach himself, but by his mother and one of his teachers: “I’ve seen such an improvement in Zach. He was so angry, but now he really seems to be doing the work.”
School-Based Counseling enables children to receive counseling directly in the school they attend each day. Family counseling is also provided and encouraged. We offer this service in 22 schools across 7 school districts in Bucks County.