The Counseling Model vs. the Therapy Model in a Public School Setting
The public school system has increasingly dealt with children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health problems by placing them in special education, rather than removing them from the schools. This is the result of both legislative mandate and parental pressure to provide appropriate public education for all students. The issues with these students are different than issues for students who have developmental delays, hearing and vision problems, or other physical issues, although some of these students may also have behavioral issues that teachers must address.
Just to give a sense of the magnitude of the problem in the school system, it might be helpful to look at the situation in one state. Washington State recently released a report on the emotional and behavioral problems among Washington state children (Madden, 2000). The report indicated that approximately 64,800 children and adolescents in the state show signs of behavioral and emotional problems that are serious enough to warrant some form of treatment. This breaks down to 1 in 18 children from age 6-11 and 1 in 15 adolescents from age 12-17 have some form of diagnosable mental illness, according to the most recent DSM categories. Boys, children from single parent families, and low-income children are more likely to have either behavioral or emotional problems that need to be addressed. Race and ethnicity do not appear to be significant factors.
This is a large number of students, most in the public school system, who have problems significant enough to be labeled as mental illness. Whether the labeling system is part of the problem or not, these are children that are likely to be unhappy themselves and to create problems in the classroom.
The focus in this study is on students with emotional and behavioral problems who have been labeled as at-risk with emotional and behavioral ...