In a typical day Amber Harding, a Looking Glass In-School Therapist, takes on many roles in caring for students in Junction City. From preparing safety plans for individual students, meeting students for therapy in school, collaborating with school counselors on how best to support students, to intervening in a behavioral crisis, Amber’s work adds a vital support for student success.
Looking Glass and the educators of Lane County have learned that behavioral health is a key part in youth education. With rising mental health concerns for young people across the United States, Lane County is no exception. Looking Glass for years has been working with school districts to have our therapists be in schools to easily meet with their clients and provide an added benefit to our local education system.
Amber currently works with over 20 students at Junction City Middle and High School. Spending a full day at each school, she meets with students when it is not too disruptive. Being at the school Amber’s clients attend offers an easy and convenient way for students to receive support, and improves behavioral health access.
Speaking to the benefits for families in having in-school therapy Amber said “It takes away a barrier from families already struggling with work and other obligations by having their children get the help they need at school, rather than adding an additional appointment to manage.”
Ambers clients also have the flexibility to be seen in school and at Looking Glass’ Bethel counseling office. “I have had clients assigned to me that when we get to a certain point in therapy it might be beneficial to meet in office rather than at school as it is a different therapeutic environment, one in which they don’t have to return to class afterwards and have a full hour to process in a safe space.”
While the core work of an in-school therapist is to provide therapy to their clients, being on site allows for therapists like Amber to offer support to the already overextended school staff.
Amber is also able to offer her expertise to school administrators who don’t have a strong background in mental health.
“There was a day a school administrator and I were talking about a student and they said ‘He’s bouncing off the walls!.’” Amber explained. “I was able to offer some context for his behavior and advocate for staff to be better aware of mental illness.”
Amber has a wait list for new clients. Her focus is on taking the highest need clients currently, but if she could increase to two full days in each school from the one day at each school she does now, she could see all students who are requesting in-school therapy.
“In school therapy is not right for all, but it is good for many students.”
Learn more about the in-school therapist program here