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.
Working with schools
The idea began in 1973. The Lincoln Center collaborated with school districts to provide mental health counselors, behavior specialists, crisis intervention counselors, and psychologists.
The counselors help students with anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues, and past or current trauma.
Students receive confidential individual therapy. They can also join group or family therapy to build a support network.
The counselors help students cope with family conflict, loss, stress, relationship issues, and bullying.
Trauma-informed counselors help at-risk students cope with traumatic incidents while special crisis intervention counselors help deescalate conflicts 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.
Drug and alcohol counseling
School-based staff develops and runs drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs. That includes forums for parents and the community.
They help students in recovery transition from inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization, or residential settings back to 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 of 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) to help 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.
Growing the program
TLC’s staffing program started in the Norristown schools but has expanded to include Philadelphia County schools.
Looking ahead, TLC hopes to continue growing its presence in Philadelphia County, providing the best support and care it 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.