As another school year begins, any struggles that kids might face often become more evident in a classroom setting. Students juggle the common challenges of learning, growing up and just fitting in among peers, but they may also experience additional stressors such as dealing with family issues and processing world events. Not surprisingly, many of them can become overwhelmed.

The good news is that there are resources within preschool, elementary, middle and high school facilities to help students overcome behavioral, emotional or social problems that interfere with success at school and at home. Across Tennessee, school-based therapists work with students, without disrupting the workplace schedules of family members or academic schedules of children and teens.

What are signs that school-based therapy might benefit your child?

Declining Academic Performance – Missed assignments, skipped classes and lowering grades generally signal a student is wrestling with an underlying issue. Is it a diagnosable condition such as ADHD? Is the student avoiding class because of a bully? If it’s an older student, could substance use be involved? We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but talking with a school-based therapist can help clarify whatever is going on and help the student address those issues.

Shift in Social Interactions – It isn’t uncommon for friend groups to change throughout the school years. However, if you notice a student isolating from peers or family members, showing no interest in fun activities or exhibiting behavior that would repel others, there are effective ways to address such matters. School-based therapists know how to unpack issues including anxiety, depression, isolation and aggression.

Emotional and Physical Changes – We all know students are going to experience mood swings (insert “typical teenager” joke here), but pay closer attention to things like increased agitation or opposition, expressions of anxiousness or fear, ongoing sleep problems or sudden changes in weight not explained by physical health issues. These are often signs that point to a need for assessment and counseling.

School-based therapists collaborate with teachers, administrators and parents to create individualized treatment plans and behavioral interventions for struggling students. Their work allows for minimal interruption to a child’s school day, and being onsite often allows for direct, real-time insight into certain issues at hand.

If this approach to therapy sounds like a good fit for your student, contact your child’s school to see if this service is available. Working together, we can make it a great school year!

Editor’s note: Beth Hail is regional vice president for Centerstone, serving its central Tennessee region. She holds a master’s degree in social work administration and is a licensed clinical social worker. For a complete list of schools with a Centerstone therapist on-site, please visit centerstone.org/school-based.

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