Who are we?
Members of the Psychology Department are all registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (or are currently completing this requirement and are under Supervised Practice) and are either trained at the Doctoral or Masters level. As a member of the College of Psychology, the staff are licensed to diagnose in the areas of Developmental Disorders, Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Child and Adolescent Depression, Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism, and other Mental Health Disorders.
Who are the students the Psychological Consultants work with?
The Psychological Consultants work closely with the school team, parents, and community partners (i.e., Local Children’s Mental Health Services, Physicians) to help students who are struggling with learning, behavioural, social, or mental health concerns at school.
The Psychological Consultant provides ‘Consultation’, ‘Brief Intervention’ (1 to 3 sessions) and ‘Psychological/Psychoeducational Assessments’. A Psychological Assessment involves a comprehen- sive standardized battery of tests exploring intellectual (cognitive) abilities, memory functioning, specific processing skills, academic skills, mental health issues, social-emotional and behavioural functioning.
Assessment services are provided for students from Kindergarten to Grade 10. However, consultation and intervention services are provided for students in Grades 11 and 12.
The following types of referral questions are addressed in the assessment and consultations provided by the Psychological Consultants:
- Specific Learning Disabilities (in Reading, Writing and Mathematics)
- Nonverbal Learning Disabilities
- Language-Based Learning Disabilities
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Disruptive Behaviour Disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Intellectual/Developmental Disorders
- Mental Health Disorders (i.e., Anxiety, Depression, Trauma)
How can a student receive our services?
At the Consultant Support Team (CST) meeting, the team will discuss the student’s strengths and needs and decide upon the most appropriate intervention, which might entail a Psychological/ Psychoeducational Assessment, consultation, or brief intervention.
While a parent can contact the Psychological Consultant for their school at any time, service provision cannot be initiated without consensus at the CST. Typically, parents may begin the process by sharing their concerns about their child with their child’s teacher who may then bring the concerns forth to the CST meeting. Oral parental consent is required before a student can be discussed with the Psychological Consultant at the CST.
Types of services provided
- Indirect Consultation: Discussion at CST may result in suggestions from the Psychological Consul- tant for academic programming, strategies to address behavioural or mental health concerns, or possible referrals to community agencies. Oral consent provided by the parent to the principal is all that is required at this level of service.
- Direct Consultation: At this level of service, written consent from the parent is required. This might involve observing the student, meeting with the parents and teachers and providing direct suggestions. The Psychological Consultant might also be involved in developing or refining the Behaviour/Mental Health Support Plan or the Safety Plan.
- Brief Intervention: If it is the consensus of the CST, then the Psychological Consultant can provide 1 to 3 sessions of individual therapy to the student. This level of service requires written permission from the parent.
- Psychological/Psychoeducational Assessment: Following a recommendation by the CST, parents are approached for their consent to complete the Psychological Assessment. Parents meet with the Psychological Consultant prior to the assessment commencing. To ensure parents understand the purpose of the assessment,‘Informed Consent’ is obtained and ‘Limits of Confidentiality’ are reviewed. When the assessment is completed, results are discussed and a written report provided to parents at the time of the ‘Assessment Feedback’. With parental consent, results are shared with the school team and the Psychological Assessment Report is placed in the Ontario School Record.
Other services provided by the Psychology Department
- Canadian Cognitive Abilities Test (CCAT): Group administered cognitive ability testing is provided to all Grade 3 students in the fall if their parents have given written permission. The purpose of this screening measure of cognitive ability is to determine which students might benefit from Gifted Programming, as well as those students who may need additional supports. A letter explaining the test results is sent home to parents in December. As well, a copy of the test results is kept in the student’s Ontario School Record.
- Violent Risk Threat Assessment (VTRA): Members of the Psychology and Counselling Attendance Departments work with School Administrators, as well as community partners (i.e., Police, Children’s Aid Society, Children’s Mental Health Agencies) to properly assess and intervene when a high risk or threatening situation occurs at school. All staff have been trained by Kevin Cameron in the imple- mentation of this VTRA model.
- Crisis Response Team (CRT): Members of the Psychology and Counselling and Attendance Departments respond to crisis events occurring in the schools. They support the schools through the provision of grief counselling, consultation, support, and appropriate resources for teachers, students and parents. Many members of both departments carry the Crisis Response Phone and alert the appropriate members of the team when a crisis occurs, so that an immediate response can be provided to the schools.
- Elementary Mental Health Support: Behaviour/Mental Health Intervention (BI Program): If the CST feels that the student’s behavioural/mental health needs have not been effectively addressed using the resources available at the school level (i.e., Child and Youth Counsellor, Special Education Resource), then a referral can be made to this program. Written parental consent is required. This program involves three highly trained Child and Youth Counsellors (CYCs) who work directly under the Chief Psychologist. Each CYC works for a 6 to 8 week period in two schools, intensely working with a maximum of two students and their teachers at each school, to help develop effective intervention strategies. The three CYCs involved in this program have received intensive training in the Collaborative Problem Solving model, now referred to as the Collaborative Proactive Solutions model (CPS) developed by Dr. Ross Greene, and provide in-service and consultation to schools about this model.
- Secondary Mental Health (SMH), Psychological Support: A member of the Psychology Depart- ment, with a highly developed knowledge of adolescent mental health, works full-time in this program. They work directly in high schools on a regular basis providing mental health consultation and brief mental health screening assessments or with secondary students who have been selected by the school team (IST or CST). Brief Intervention/therapy for 1 to 3 sessions can also be provided. The goal is to support the school team in obtaining a clearer understanding of the student’s mental health needs, help program accordingly at school, and facilitate referrals to mental health services when appropriate.
- Elementary and Secondary Intensive Mental Health/Behaviour Support: Specialized Support Team (SST). Please refer to the comprehensive description in the ‘Supporting Students’ section. This is a multi-disciplinary team, led by a member of the Psychology Department that provides direct and intensive support for students with the highest level of mental health, behavioural and/or learning needs.
- Complex Autism Diagnostic Assessment Team (CADAT): This team of specially trained Psycholo- gists and Speech Language Pathologists provide a two-day comprehensive assessment for students whom schools and parents are unclear as to whether they meet criteria for the diagnosis of ASD, despite already having been seen by a psychologist and speech language pathologist. Once consent is obtained from parents, a two-day assessment date is set. At the end of the assessment, the results and report are provided to parents, and with their consent, to the school team so that effective programming interventions can be developed.
- Collaborative Problem Solving or Collaborative Proactive Solutions (CPS): A multi-disciplinary team (i.e., Administrators, Speech Language Pathologists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Special Education Consultants, Child and Youth Counsellors) received Advanced Level training with Dr. Ross Greene. Lead by the Chief Psychologist, this CPS team works in both the elementary and secondary panel to advance implementation of this highly effective model for addressing students’ mental health and behavioural problems. Full-day training workshops are provided to interested adminis- trators and teachers at their schools. Furthermore, follow up, direct consultation and implementa- tion of the model with students and teachers is provided.
Members of the Psychology Department provide a variety of in-services on Mental Health Issues directly to schools as well as for group in-service settings (e.g., Professional Development for Teachers, Administrators, Educational Assistants, Child and Youth Counsellors). Some topics include: Working with the Anxious Child; Self-Harm; Attachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Effects in the Class- room, Working with Autistic Students; Memory and Learning, and Learning Disabilities.