Timothy Murphy School is proud to have a talented and dedicated clinical team. One of their primary duties is to provide individual counseling services to all students with Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS) in their Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Students are eligible to receive ERMHS when a formal assessment determines that counseling is necessary for a student to access his educational benefit. This means that a student may have counseling services added to his IEP when it is agreed upon that pronounced social-emotional problems are interfering with educational success. This includes not only academic progress but the entire spectrum of school life, including the ability to meet behavioral expectations and engage in appropriate socialization with peers and adults.
Common clinical goals include—but are not limited to—the following:
- Improving emotional self-regulation.
- Increasing flexibility, situational adaptability, and frustration tolerance.
- Developing a positive concept of self, others, and the future, especially in a school context.
- Improving accurate interpretation of environmental and social cues.
- Instilling a sense of agency, competence, and safety.
- Increasing the capacity for positive feelings, empathy, and openness to new experiences.
- Enabling the development of trusting, caring relationships.
- Improving the ability to be self aware, to think logically, and to make informed decisions.
The successful advancement of these aims will generally result in behavioral improvements in the classroom as the student is better able to attend to work, comply with rules and expectations, and form appropriate relationships with peers and adults.
Qualifying for Mental Health Services
The process begins with requesting a formal assessment through the special education department in the student’s home school district. Many districts have a formal procedure for determining need for counseling services—contact your school’s psychologist or principal for more information. If the student is not yet enrolled at TMS, the district will coordinate the assessment. If already enrolled at TMS, our own clinical staff can provide the assessment. The IEP team will then meet to discuss the findings and recommendations. If the team agrees, then ERMHS can be added to the IEP and the student will begin to receive counseling services.
There are no formal legal standards, either at the state or federal level, for determining need for mental health services, or even how “need” is explicitly defined. At TMS, we have developed our own informal model for determining the need for counseling services:
- We believe that assessment for ERMHS is justified when a TMS student has regularly attended school for six weeks or more and continues to struggle to access his education as evidenced by consistently earning Daily Ratings below 3.
- ERMHS is justified when that student is assessed using valid and reliable instruments and the outcome indicates the presence of clinically significant symptoms and behaviors.
- ERMHS may also justified when a student is currently accessing his education at TMS but needs counseling to help him successfully transition to a less restrictive setting.
Since mental health is deeply embedded within our system, we believe that ERMHS plays a critical role in the long term success of our students.