SSPS:Educationally Related Mental Health Counseling as a Related Service

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Defining Educationally Related Mental Health Counseling

Educationally related mental health counseling services are direct supports provided by qualified personnel to students with personal/social adjustment issues, which impede the student’s learning or student safety.

These services may be provided by qualified social workers, psychologists or school counselors in accordance with licensing and Florida Department of Education Certification as defined and governed by Chapter 490,F.S. and Chapter 491,F.S.

Defining Related Services

Related services are supportive services needed in order for a student with a disability to benefit from special education. Related services include: speech and language services, audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Related services also include school health services, school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training. Reference Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, section 300.34.

Determining the Need for Educationally Related Mental Health Counseling as a Related Service

The T/IEP team determines the need for a student to receive counseling as a related service. As with all related services, the T/IEP must determine that counseling services are necessary for a student to receive a free and appropriate public education and that without these services with student could not benefit from special education. Educationally related mental health counseling services are intended to provide necessary coping or social relational skills in order for the student to access and benefit from the school environment. It is critical for the T/IEP team to consider how the scope of educationally related counseling services is different than the scope of medically based counseling services.

Students identified with internalizing behaviors (i.e. depression, anxiety), school avoidance, perseverative behaviors, or students in need of strategies to be empathetic may benefit from educational counseling services. Additionally, these services may be necessary to assist students in transitioning to a less restrictive educational environment. The scope of the services and supports should be focused on the student’s needs in the educational environment. These services must align with social/emotional goals on the student’s T/IEP.

T/IEP teams must review the student’s data on social/emotional goals and less intensive interventions when determining the need for counseling as a related service. The team should use a problem-solving process to determine the need for these services as well as monitor the progress of the intervention. A qualified professional in counseling services must be involved and present at the T/IEP meeting determining this related service.

When applicable, the Educationally Related Mental Health Counselor should also work in collaboration with a community provider if the student is also receiving medically based metal health counseling services.

Documenting Educationally Related Mental Health Counseling as a Related Service on the T/IEP

Educationally related mental health counseling should be listed on the T/IEP under “Related Services.” The service is listed as “Individual/small group counseling.” The T/IEP team determines the duration, frequency, and location of the services. The T/IEP must monitor the student’s response to the intervention and reassess the intensity or student’s continued need for these services, as appropriate.

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