We work with Communities in Schools Chicago (CISC) partner schools who have identified mental health services as a needs priority. CISC and The Schools Group then work with the partner schools to determine whether placing a student intern would be beneficial to both the school and to the intern. CISC partner schools receive this service at no cost.
The Schools Group provides all formal supervision, and interns coordinate their work with school personnel but work independently. We depend on the schools to provide a private and consistent space where interns can meet with students, to provide referrals of students who could benefit from clinical counseling services, and to allow reasonable access to the students during the school day. Interns primarily provide individual counseling and play therapy but also can conduct groups, provide psycho-educational materials, or sponsor after-school activities that relate to mental health and well-being. We work closely with each school to respond to the needs of its community.
For schools not in the CISC network, we also can provide these same services for a low fee that covers the cost of student supervision.
Each year we distribute a brief questionnaire to teachers, asking them to provide feedback on any student who had been seeing one of our interns regularly. In 2017-2018, we had 57 responses thanks to the good relationships our interns had in their schools.
In total, TSG interns provided 2,107 counseling sessions (typically 30 minutes) to a total of 94 students. This averages about 22 sessions per client. The trend continues of providing more sessions per client and seeing a smaller total number of clients than in earlier years. This is because more clients start and stay – they don’t want to give up their weekly half hour in a space where they are free to control the action without criticism – and so our interns have less open time to take on new clients.
The teachers’ survey asks how strongly they agree or disagree that they saw positive changes in emotional regulation, social interactions, behavior, and academic performance in the students we counseled. Here are the data for Strongly Agree/Agree: Emotional Regulation 70%, Behavior 53%, Social Interactions 62%, and Academic Performance 45%.
Thank you to our schools for their support, and our wonderful interns. We made a difference!
Here are a few of the teacher’s comments:
“I’ve seen some positive changes in regards to managing their emotions and behaviors. They tend to act before thinking, and lately I find L coming to me or at least warning me of most potential outbursts before they occur.”
“A has improved their social interactions with their peers and some teachers. Occasionally they do have difficulty regulating their behavior. Overall their social and emotional well-being has improved.”
“I have definitely seen a positive change in Y, more social and pro-active when it comes to schoolwork.”
“K is much better able to manage their emotions. Instead of shutting down and crying… they request to talk with me. Much improved since the beginning of the school year.”
“…overall has been more successful at regulating their emotions and voicing frustration before it becomes overwhelming. They’ve also had fewer peer conflicts in the second half of the year and seem more confident socially. Thank you so much for supporting them throughout the year.”
“D’s favorite part of every week since you started seeing them has been their time with you. They looked forward to and asked about your visits regularly and it always had an immediate impact on them. The service you provided is something that D has needed and unfortunately I don’t think anything close to it has existed at the school before this year. Thank you so much for your time and the relationship you built with them.”
And a few of the client’s comments:
“I like this because I can be myself here.”
“I loved this because I feel safer talking here and it takes some stress off me.”
“I had a great time…thanks for listening to all my problems I had. Thank you for making me feel better because before I came here I had a lot of things on my mind and it felt good to tell someone about them. Thanks for always listening and helping me out.”
“Ever since I been coming I’ve stopped thinking about hurting myself, I’ve been feeling heard and that I actually have someone to talk about things that I don’t really talk about. I like how when I come I don’t feel judged and we be having fun times ….I feel that if I didn’t come these last couple of months that I would be in a bad place and no one would know or would know how to help.”
“I enjoyed having (a place) to come talk about my problems and stuff that (was) bothering me and also get some advice.”
“How I felt in this experience is pretty good because I was able to get things off my chest. It has been really fun talking and sharing stories and sharing my problems and for someone being there to help me.”
“I really like this because you have some time and you can talk to someone that you trust.”