As part of our intervention practice, we provide supports and services for children, adolescents, and adults. Our model allows for the flexibility of working with individuals, families, and in the context of schools. Our goal is to help individuals develop skills in order to change their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions in the way they would like to change and to create supportive environments for skill development to occur.
Our team recognizes that the challenges we face do not occur in a vacuum, and the systems in our life can either promote, or interfere with, our growth and health. In this, our intervention model is also informed by — or specifically targets — the systems in one’s life when developing intervention plans. This may include family-based services using a family systems model, which emphasizes the importance of family relationships and culture in the psychological health and wellbeing of individuals.
We also specialize in expanded school-based mental health (ESMH) services. ESMH looks beyond traditional office-based treatment when working with youth and families. These services are founded upon a framework that includes prevention for youth at risk; positive behavior supports and youth development; comprehensive and collaborative health and mental health programming; and classroom- or system-level climate changes to support youth.
We offer a wide range of evaluation services based on the strengths and needs of the child, and are specifically customized to address the referral question(s). During evaluation, we make use of empirical and developmental principles, with an individualized battery of testing procedures.
Commonly, evaluations will include a mix of both psychometric and qualitative assessment tools and procedures. Psychometric (or normative) measures are utilized in an effort to compare individuals to similar groups of individuals (gender, age, grade level) who have also completed these tests. Conclusions regarding functioning, prognosis, and treatment needs are developed from comparative analysis — comparing individual performance to “normed” scores and groups of individuals exhibiting similar features or performances. Qualitative and criterion-based information gathering may include records reviews, developmental history, clinical interview data (symptoms and current status, including unstructured and semi-structured interviews), as well as rating scales and inventories. The evaluation plan will be dependent upon the referral questions and activities.
Typically, evaluations require three to four sessions. The first meeting is with a legal guardian or parent where office policy regarding the limits of confidentiality, informed consent, release of information, and billing policies are reviewed and defined. Issues related to the nature of the presenting problem as well as medical, developmental, familial, and educational history are then reviewed. The following sessions will involve direct testing with the child/adolescent/young adult, clinical interview, and emotional testing wherein identity/personality development, specific symptom patterns, and social functioning are examined. A final appointment will be scheduled to provide post-evaluation feedback and review of findings and impressions, in addition to recommendations for treatment and support, modifications, and/or reasonable accommodations.
School district may also request an assessment for the purposes of educational identification and/or programming. The specific procedures of the evaluation will be determined at the time of referral. At the conclusion of the evaluation, written reports of findings are sent to the parent and school district simultaneously and a representative from the school schedules a team meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to review evaluation results and address programmatic questions. Oral feedback can be provided prior to the meeting upon request.
Functional behavioral assessment is a process for collecting information and problem-solving that can be used to determine why problem behaviors occur and address problem behavior among children and adolescents. Functional behavioral assessments are used to develop a positive behavioral intervention plan. It relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the function or purpose of behavior and to help adults working with youth tailor interventions to most effectively target the problem behavior.
The functional behavioral assessment process uses different ways to collect data. This will likely include interviews, observations across settings, and a review of records and reports. The data collected will inform a hypothesis about why problem behaviors occur.
Academic consultation involves working with school staff on enhancing the academic achievement of students. Through an interactive process with educational staff, goals meaningful to the staff and school system are developed and addressed. The overarching framework is based on an improvement and enhancement of staff competence as a route to both organizational change and individual student outcomes.
The goal of academic consultation is to improve instructional management strategies, as well as the match between the skills of the student and the task, so that the student can engage successfully with the material. As a consultee-centered consultation model, the focus is on building teacher knowledge and skills, thus providing an opportunity to introduce evidence-based interventions to the teacher through a collaborative process and to support teachers in their use through coaching and ongoing engagement.
Incidents of targeted violence in the school setting are not characteristically sudden, impulsive acts. Prior to most incidents, many individuals engage in some behavior that caused concern or indicated a need for help, and often other people know about ideas and/or plans. However, there is no precise “profile” of students who engage in targeted school violence. As such, the assessment of threatening statements or behavior is an important service to protecting the safety of children and adults in the school.
This assessment process is an approach to addressing targeted school violence. It is a data-driven approach that is based on a systematic examination of the facts and evidence of behavior in a given situation from multiple perspectives. The appraisal of risk in a threat assessment focuses on actions, communications, contextual factors, and specific circumstances that informs risk and protective factors relevant to risk of violence toward self or others.
The assessment is considered the starting point of an intervention and case management process that specifically considers relevant historical information, targets gaps in service and support, and identifies a process for addressing needs and risks.
The process is based on the following principles1:
- Targeted violence is the end result of an understandable, and oftentimes discernible, process of thinking and behavior.
- Targeted violence stems from an interaction among the individual, the situation, the setting, and the target.
- An investigative, skeptical, inquisitive mindset is critical to successful threat assessment.
- Effective threat assessment is based upon facts rather than on characteristics or “traits.”
- An “integrated systems approach” should guide threat assessment inquiries and investigations.
- The central question in a threat assessment inquiry or investigation is whether a student poses a threat, not whether the student has made a threat.
Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., Pollack, W., Borum, R., Modzeleski, W., & Reddy, M. Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program and U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, Washington, D.C., 2004.