This article was written by David Bjorkgren. It was originally published on August 20, 2020 by MontcoToday.
To help children and teenagers, you have to go where they are.
That’s why The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth created a School-Based Staffing program to serve students in school districts throughout Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.
The idea began in 1973, when The Lincoln Center collaborated with school districts to provide mental health counselors, behavior specialists, crisis intervention counselors and psychologists in the schools.
The counselors help students facing anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues and past or current trauma.
Students in need receive confidential individual therapy, and can also join group or family therapy which serves to build a support network.
The counselors help students cope with family conflict, loss, stress, relationship issues and bullying.
Additionally, trauma-informed counselors help at-risk students cope with traumatic incidents, and special crisis intervention counselors help deescalate conflict with students.
TLC staff also work with special education students to fulfill the counseling requirements on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
Besides direct support to students and families, TLC staff work with administrators, guidance personnel, teachers and community agencies.
School-based staff develop and run drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs, including forums for parents and the community.
They also help students in recovery transition from inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization or residential settings back into a school setting.
The staff work as key members of the district’s Student Assistance Program (SAP) teams, providing student screening and liaison services.
Because of their vast knowledge on mental health, they help districts develop mental health curricula and crisis response plans.
“During my time working at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School as a School-Based Counselor, I have worked with students individually, in groups, and also with the Student Assistance Program (SAP) with the goal of helping students manage their socioemotional well-being,” said Yakeita Sawyer, a School-Based Counselor at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
Sawyer is passionate about leading student groups and clubs, focusing on health and safe decision-making, as well as promoting mental health and suicide awareness and prevention.
TLC’s staffing program has expanded over time from its start in the Norristown schools to now include schools in Philadelphia County.
Looking ahead, TLC hopes to continue growing its presence in Philadelphia County, providing the best support and care they can.
“This year, the School-Based Counselor’s role is more important than it’s ever been,” said Rob D’Alonzo, Chief Clinical Officer. “Their normal responsibilities have been added to by the need to address the vicarious trauma that we, as a society, are collectively experiencing because of the pandemic.”
To find out more about The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth and its School-Based Staffing program, click here.