Counseling and Psychological Services
Framework (What’s Required):
Counseling services, according to IDEA, means services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel. The American School Counselor Association adds that the purpose of counseling services is to assist all children in the areas of:
- academic achievement (e.g., addressing future planning related to setting and reaching academic goals)
- personal and or social development (e.g., developing self-knowledge, making effective decisions, learning health choices, and improving responsibility)
- career development (e.g., developing a positive attitude toward learning, and recognizing and utilizing academic strengths in non-school settings)
Parent counseling and training emphasize the importance of parents as active participants in their child’s education. According to IDEA, parent counseling and training means: (a) assisting parents in understanding the special needs of the student, (b) providing parents with information about child development, and (c) helping parents to acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of their child’s IEP or Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). Parent counseling and training is identified by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as one of the eleven strategies or options an ARD/IEP Committee may choose for a student with autism in order to facilitate carry-over of communication skills or behavior strategies in the home.
Psychological services as a related service, according to IDEA, includes:
- administering psychological and educational tests, and other assessment procedures
- interpreting assessment results
- obtaining, integrating, and interpreting information about student behavior and conditions relating to learning
- consulting with other staff members in planning school programs to meet the special educational needs of students as indicated by psychological tests, interviews, direct observation, and behavioral evaluations
- planning and managing a program of psychological services, including psychological counseling for student and parents
- assisting in developing positive behavioral intervention strategies
Psychological services are generally provided by an LSSP or psychologist, but some services are also appropriately provided by other trained personnel, including school social workers and counselors. An ARD/IEP committee is responsible for determining the appropriateness of psychological services as a related service based on the individual educational needs of a student, regardless of the disability categories. Parents are invited to participate in the ARD/IEP committee decision-making process. Related services are provided to an eligible student with a disability at no cost to the parent or guardian.
- The referral for counseling or psychological services evaluation is initiated by the ARD/IEP Committee
- The need for counseling or psychological services is examined in an evaluation, conducted by the campus LSSP.
- The ARD/IEP Committee determines the timeline for the counseling or psychological services evaluation.
Methods (What We Do):
- Counseling and psychological services as a related service may be provided to students with disabilities who have chronic severe behavioral, emotional, or social difficulties and additional school supports are required to help the student achieve annual goals.
- The referral for counseling or psychological services evaluation is initiated by the ARD/IEP Committee (counseling involves the use of the Counseling Screening Form).
- The need for counseling or psychological services is examined in an evaluation.
- If eligible for services, an IEP is developed to specify the goals/objectives, projected begin and end date, amount, frequency, duration, and location of the services.
- Progress reports explaining the student’s progress toward annual IEP goals will be provided to parents, teachers, and relevant school personnel on a regular basis.
- Any changes in the amount of services listed in the IEP must be made at an ARD/IEP meeting.
- Counseling or psychological services providers should be present at an ARD/IEP meeting when the need for the services is discussed or when the progress of the services is reviewed. Service providers may submit their findings in writing if the IEP Committee agrees to excuse them from the meeting.
- While a formal evaluation can be performed, it is not required to dismiss a student from counseling or psychological services as a related service.
- Dismissal from counseling or psychological services should be based on data from a variety of sources, including teacher observations, parent input, mastery of IEP goals and objectives, performance on statewide assessments, disciplinary referrals, and any other relevant data.
- The decision to dismiss from a related service is determined by the IEP Committee and supporting documentation is included in the student’s IEP document.
Counseling and Psychological Services as a Related Service in the IEP
- focuses on school-related issues
- is behavior and/or learning based
- minimally intrusive
- emphasizes practical and immediate application rather than development of insight
- is necessary in order to make educational and/or behavioral progress
- When an ARD/IEP Committee determines the need for counseling or psychological services to support the student’s special education, a specially designed counseling or psychological services program is included as part of the student’s IEP.
- The supports and services provided are documented on EasyIEP, in updated objectives, and indicated as part of the progress reporting system to parents and adult students.
Counseling and Psychological Services may be provided by
- Licensed Specialists in School Psychology (LSSPs)
- Qualified counselors
- Social workers
- Other qualified professionals
- Counseling is a complex helping process in which a trusting and confidential working relationship is established.
- Counselors interact with students individually or in small groups.
- The focus is on problem-solving, decision-making, and discovering personal meaning related to learning and development.
- Psychological services as a related service can be provided as:
- indirect, or
- integrated (a combination of direct and indirect services).
- Psychological services providers consult and collaborate with parents, school personnel, medical professionals, and other professional service providers to develop and implement strategies to help students succeed.
- The focus is on assisting the school staff, students, and parents/family to solve problems related to learning and student behavior.