As an outpatient therapist, I love every opportunity to connect with schools’ staff.  When I was a school social worker, I valued the opportunity to coordinate and speak with my student’s private therapist.  Many parents ask if there are pros and cons of telling the school that their child is working with a therapist. In my experience, there are many benefits of collaborating with student support personnel such as a school social worker, counselor or psychologist.

Here are some important tips:

What is a release of information?

A release of information must be signed by parents and by the student if the student is 12 years old and older before any communication between therapist and school personnel can take place.  The information shared between a therapist and school social worker, counselor or psychologist is confidential. School mental health providers hold the same ethical and legal standards when it comes to confidentiality.

Why is the direct contact between therapist and school beneficial?

It is helpful to speak directly to school personnel in order to get a better understanding of your child’s academic performance, behavior and relationships with adults and peers in various settings.

The school can share information that parents and therapist do not see regarding academic performance and relationships with peers.

Two heads are always better than one!

Collaboration and continuity of care, working on the same issues and focus, is beneficial to connect the link between home, school, and therapy sessions.  Your child’s therapist and school service personnel can brainstorm options and resources that can help your child at school if they are struggling. As an example, creating an informal or formal plan that can help your child feel more comfortable at school if they are refusing to go in the mornings.  School staff can also identify specific areas that can be focused on during therapy sessions.

Why recreate the wheel?

If your therapist is working on an effective coping strategy it can be shared with the school mental health provider and reinforced at school or vise versa.

Advocacy.

Your child’s therapist can help advocate for your child’s needs and suggest specific strategies that can help your child’s social and emotional needs in the classroom and school environment.

IEP and Section 504 Plans.

 If your child has special education services through an Individualized Education Plan or accommodations through a Section 504 Plan, your therapist can provide suggestions for services, accommodations or modifications based on work that had been done during individual sessions.  You are allowed to invite your child’s therapist to these meetings.

About the Author

Denise Gulotta, LCSW, is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Denise works with children, adolescents, and parents. Denise’s specialties include stress & anxiety, mood disorders, behavior problems, self-esteem, school issues, and family changes + life transitions. If you’re interested in working with Denise, send an email today!