Tag Archives: School Psychologist

‘Peer Counseling’ in schools

28 Apr

Moi wrote about a high school support program in Helping troubled children: The ‘Reconnecting Youth Program’:
Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children:

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.
The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.
Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.
Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play….
Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.
Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/school-psychologists-shortage-amid-increased-need/2012/02/26/gIQAU7psdR_blog.html

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/ In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Rebecca Jones of Ed News Colorado wrote about the Reconnecting Youth Program in the article, Reconnecting Youth program boosts teens.
http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/10/30/51106-reconnecting-youth-program-boosts-teens https://drwilda.com/2012/10/30/helping-troubled-children-the-reconnecting-youth-program/
Another model many schools are trying is peer counseling.

Evie Blad reported in the Education Week article, Schools Explore Benefits of Peer Counseling about peer counseling:

Schools in Baltimore, New York City, New Jersey, and North Carolina have used the program—created by the Princeton, N.J.-based Center for Supportive Schools—to boost attendance, academic persistence, and graduation rates.
At a time when schools are increasingly recognizing the important role social and emotional factors can play in academic success, leaders are wasting a valuable resource if they don’t enlist energetic students to help their peers, said Daniel F. Oscar, the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Supportive Schools.
“It becomes a very positive feedback loop where, by the act of helping the school out, that older student is in fact deepening his or her own education,” Mr. Oscar said. “Leadership is increasingly something that we don’t only expect from the person who has the top title in an organization. It’s something we expect from everyone.”
A study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. published in the Journal of Educational Research found that Peer Group Connection had notable success raising graduation rates for Latino males.
Promising Signs
In a randomized control study, researchers tracked four-year graduation rates for 268 participating students at a high-poverty, mid-Atlantic, urban high school that is not named in the study. Of the program’s participants, 77 percent graduated high school in four years, compared with 68 percent of their nonparticipating peers. Latino males in the experimental group had an 81 percent graduation rate, compared to 63 percent in the control group.
Peer Group Connection is more successful than some other peer-mentoring efforts because it is integrated into the school day, incorporates several meetings with students’ families to reinforce lessons and supports, and requires buy-in from principals and teachers before a school implements the program, the researchers wrote.
The program employs a “train the trainer” model under which juniors and seniors complete a yearlong, credit-bearing leadership course where they practice group exercises and discussions. Older students also meet once a week with younger students to complete the exercises they practiced in class.
The class is led by teachers who received extensive training on the program, primarily through an 11-day course and a retreat with Center for Supportive Schools staff.
That training helps prepare teachers for a level of honesty they might not typically experience with students, said Sherry Barr, the vice president of the organization.
“When they go through it themselves and experience what it means to them to break down some of those barriers, that’s a very powerful experience,” Ms. Barr said. “They sort of leave transformed in the sense that they really want to have that experience with their students.”
As those teachers work with peer mentors in training, those discussions—often centered on experiences that can form hurdles for school completion and persistence—can be emotional.
On an April afternoon in Baltimore, peer leaders at the Academy for College and Career Exploration practiced how they would react to various text messages from peers, including nude photos and an angry message from a friend. Would they forward the photos to others? Would they respond to anger with anger?
“Keep it real,” teacher Candice Boone told senior Jada Davis, urging her to avoid simply telling adults in the room what she thought they’d want to hear about how she would respond to the hypothetical angry text message.
“You know I am,” Ms. Davis said, admitting that she “most likely would be going back and forth” with her friend if she got such a message.
Students also discussed the way girls are bullied and teased if they send a nude photo to a boyfriend, only to have it circulating on social media the next day. It’s a side of students teachers don’t always see, Ms. Boone said…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29peerconnection.h33.html

The Center for Supportive Schools is one of the primary providers of training for peer counselors.

Here is what the Center for Supportive Schools says about Peer Counseling.

Peer Group Connection (PGC)
Through Peer Group Connection (PGC), CSS trains school faculty to teach leadership courses to select groups of older students, who in turn educate and support younger students. Our goal is to help schools enable and inspire young people to become engaged leaders who positively influence their peers. The CSS peer-to-peer student leadership model taps into schools’ most underutilized resources – students – and enlists them in strengthening the educational offerings of a school while simultaneously advancing their own learning, growth, and development.
Transition to High School
High School Juniors and Seniors Supporting Freshmen in Their Transition to High School
Peer Group Connection (PGC) for High Schools is an evidence-based program that supports and eases students’ successful transition from middle to high school. The program taps into the power of high school juniors and seniors to create a nurturing environment for incoming freshmen. Once per week, pairs of junior and senior peer leaders meet with groups of 10-14 freshmen in outreach sessions designed to strengthen relationships among students across grades. These peer leaders are simultaneously enrolled in a daily, for-credit, year-long leadership course taught by school faculty during regular school hours. PGC is CSS’s seminal peer leadership program, and has been implemented with a 70% sustainability rate in more than 175 high schools since 1979. A recently released, four-year longitudinal, randomized-control study conducted by Rutgers University and funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that, among other major results, PGC improves the graduation rates of student participants in an inner city public school by ten percentage points and cuts by half the number of male students who would otherwise drop out.
http://supportiveschools.org/solutions/peer-group-connection/

Not all are supportive of peer counseling.

Andrew S. Latham wrote in the 1997 Education Leadership article, Research Link / Peer Counseling Proceed with Caution:

One of Lewis and Lewis’s concerns is that students serving as peer counselors are increasingly being asked to shoulder a burden that should be overseen only by trained, seasoned professionals. In a sobering study, the two researchers compared suicide rates among schools with no peer-led suicide-prevention program; schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a noncounselor (for example, a teacher or building administrator); and schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a certified counselor, psychologist, or social worker. Shockingly, the 38 schools with the noncounselor-led peer programs had the highest ratio of student suicides: Between 1991 and 1993, 11 of those 38 schools (29 percent) reported at least one suicide, as opposed to 7 of 55 schools (13 percent) with no prevention program at all, and just 5 of 65 schools (8 percent) with a counselor-led peer program….
Although Lewis and Lewis focus on suicide-prevention programs, we can extend this argument to other health and safety issues teens face, such as AIDS and drug and alcohol abuse. As teens confront the problems of the 1990s, they want concrete advice, not just an empathetic listener. Morey and colleagues (1993) confirmed this fact when they used a stepwise regression to identify factors that contribute to students’ satisfaction with peer counseling. Two such factors were “empathy and problem identification” and “empathy and problem solving,” indicating that students want help from peers who are willing to listen and understand their problems, and who can suggest ways to address those problems.
Professional Support Is Critical
These studies point to the need for students to receive extensive training and professional support both before and throughout their work with their peers. If such support is given, peer programs have tremendous potential.
A case in point: O’Hara and colleagues (1996) studied the effects of a student-led AIDS prevention program in an alternative school for at-risk youth. Following an initial interview, the peer counselors were trained over the course of eight weeks, including five classroom sessions, two retreats, and a trip to a local clinic for sexually transmitted diseases. Peer counselors with attendance problems were dropped from the program. Those who successfully completed the program then conducted two carefully structured large-group sessions with their peers, followed by two small-group sessions and various schoolwide activities. The results were impressive: pre- and post-intervention student surveys revealed that the number of students who intended to use condoms each time they had sex rose from 55 to 65 percent, while those reporting they had never used a condom dropped from 15 to 4 percent.
The lesson from these examples is that peer-led programs must be adopted carefully, particularly when dealing with the high-stakes problems that many teenagers face today. In fact, professional intervention may be preferable to peer support for potentially lethal issues, such as teen suicide…. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct97/vol55/num02/Peer-Counseling@-Proceed-with-Caution.aspx

For research on peer counseling programs, see http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/rh/counseffective.asp

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Related:

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/battling-teen-addiction-recovery-high-schools/

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School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

27 Feb

Pamela Paul has a fascinating article in the New York Times about preschoolers and depression. In the article, Can Preschoolers Be Depressed? Paul does a great job of describing what depression looks like in small children and reporting about nascent research efforts by various universities.     

How Common Is Depression In Children?  

According to Mary H. Sarafolean, PhD in the article, Depression In School Age Children and Adolescents

In general, depression affects a person’s physical,  cognitive, emotional/affective, and motivational well-being, no matter  their age. For example, a child with depression between the ages of 6 and 12 may exhibit fatigue, difficulty with schoolwork, apathy and/or a lack of motivation. An adolescent or teen may be oversleeping, socially isolated, acting out in
self-destructive ways and/or have a sense of hopelessness. (See table 1.)    

Prevalence and Risk Factors             

While only 2 percent of pre-teen school-age children and 3-5 percent of teenagers have clinical depression, it is the most common diagnosis of children in a clinical setting (40-50 percent of diagnoses). The lifetime risk  of depression in females is 10-25 percent and in males, 5-12 percent. Children and teens who are considered at high risk for depression disorders include:

* children referred to a mental health provider for school problems
* children with medical problems
* gay and lesbian adolescents
* rural vs. urban adolescents
* incarcerated adolescents
* pregnant adolescents
* children with a family history of depression    
     

If you or your child has one or more of the risk factors and your child is exhibiting symptoms of prolonged sadness, it might be wise to have your child evaluated for depression. Because many children exhibit symptoms of depression, schools are increasingly forced to deal with depressed children.

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.

The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.

Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.

Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play.

This problem, for the most part, is not one of commitment or values. Most school leaders recognize the problem and want to effectively address it, but they report that most of the counseling support services they have are for testing and helping kids with special emotional and/or learning problems. Even this is inadequate, with the psychologist available only a day or two each week.

In the best-funded districts, there is more full-time psychological counseling available for students. Yet, even in these districts, principals indicate that they have more students who need help with stress management than the existing counseling services can provide.

The problems extend beyond inadequate support services. School advisories — when a group of students meet with a teacher for advisory help — are supposed to provide psychological support but rarely do. Most students I’ve spoken with perceive advisories as a time for academic help but not a place they can go to deal with personal problems. Few schools are able to offer the training that teachers need to be able to provide that kind of support. Even those schools that have sponsored a program like Challenge Day, which provides an opportunity for students to openly discuss their individual struggles, rarely have a sustained follow-up program in place.

A bill was introduced in Congress last November that would provide some alleviation of this problem in lower income areas. H.R. 3405 is the Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act. It would provide grants to partnerships between schools and low- income local educational agencies to improve the ratio of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Although limited in focus, it is at least a start. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and has still not been acted on by the Committee.

Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.

Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/school-psychologists-shortage-amid-increased-need/2012/02/26/gIQAU7psdR_blog.html

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide.

Why Do Teens Attempt Suicide? 

The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry has some excellent suicide resources 

Suicides among young people continue to be a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds.

Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts. For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems and stress.  

Sometimes, people see suicide as an answer to their problems. All of us must stress that suicide is always the WRONG answer to what in all likelihood is a transitory situation.  

What are the Warning Signs of Suicide? 

According to Teen’s Health there are some suicide warning signs 

Warning Signs

There are often signs that someone may be thinking about or planning a suicide attempt. Here are some of them:

talking about suicide or death in general

talking about “going away”

referring to things they “won’t be needing,” and giving away possessions

talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty

pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out

having no desire to take part in favorite things or activities

having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits

engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or cutting, for example) 

These are signs that indicate a person may be depressed. 

According to Jared Story.com the primary cause of suicide is depression. 

# 1 CAUSE OF SUICIDE:  UNTREATED DEPRESSION

It can be very hard to diagnose depression.  There are many different kinds of depression and not all people will have the same symptoms, or have them to the same degree.  Here are some symptoms to watch for and if they last more than a few weeks, a doctor or psychiatrist should be consulted. 

Persistent sad or “empty” mood

Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless

pessimistic and or guilty

Substance abuse

Fatigued or loss of interest in ordinary activities

Disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns

Irritability, increased crying, anxiety and panic attacks, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions

Thoughts of suicide; suicide plans or attempts

Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment 

The site also lists events that might trigger depression in a person. 

A death of a family member or close friend – which could include a fellow student from school

An assault, car accident or painful physical event – which could include physical bullying

Mental, or emotional event – which could include non-physical bullying

Marriage breakup, or love lost suddenly – which could include “breaking up” with a girlfriend or boyfriend

Constant physical, mental, or emotional pain that goes on for a length of time – which includes constant bullying that is not intervened, resolved or stopped entirely

Major Financial setback – which includes a teenager who may have lost a job

Something “embarrassing” happens – as an example; getting kicked off a football team or a public insult by a teacher or popular student; bullying

Failing an important exam a school – not a normal trigger unless the exam was life changing and the individual is under a lot of stress

A best friend moves out of town – especially true for teenagers who are being bullied and have very few friends as it is 

If you notice these signs, the key is to get help for yourself or a friend. 

What Should You Do if You Know Someone Who Thinking About Suicide? 

If you are thinking of suicide or you know someone who is thinking about suicide, GET HELP, NOW!!!! The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has some excellent advice about suicide prevention If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.” That statement should be clarified to make it perfectly clear that appropriate medical care may include a second, third or more medical opinions if necessary.

Resources:

Teen’s Health’s Suicide

American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Teen Depression

Jared Story.Com

CNN Report about suicide

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