When a student with a disability experiences emotional difficulty that limits the student’s ability to participate in the education process, the student may benefit from counseling to overcome the difficulty. Counseling typically requires that the student have the ability to discuss her/his feelings and follow a train of thought to make connections regarding coping strategies. School level counseling may be provided by a school psychologist, a school counselor or a counselor who provides services at some of our schools on a contractual basis. When a student is not making the progress expected from school level counseling or the student’s difficulty is beyond what is typically provided by school level counselors, the student may be referred for counseling from a district mental health counselor. Referrals verify that less intensive counseling services have been exhausted or would be inappropriate. The district mental health counselor assesses the student’s need and assists the IEP Team in creating an appropriate goal. The district mental health counselor collaborates on an “as needed” basis with the student’s support network (school, home, community). When the student has made sufficient and consistent progress, the more intensive support is faded back to the school level. If you have already spoken to your child’s school and have further questions about mental health counseling, please contact George Freeman, ESE Program Specialist, at 904-547-7704.