Mental Health

Facilitating Student Healing and Growth

The therapeutic services offered at Serendipity Center integrate mental health supports into the structure of a private, special education school. This service delivery model is unique within the five county area we serve, and allows us to provide what we call “therapeutic education.”

“The beauty of Serendipity is that we take a look at the whole child and find the best way to serve him or her. We start by identifying the mental health issues in play, so that we can successfully begin the healing process together.”

— Jackie Trussell, LCSW, Treatment Director

Collaboratively Developing the Best Treatment Plan for our Students

We seamlessly weave together special education and mental health treatment so that we are better able to serve our high-needs students. With that in mind, all intervention strategies (academic, social, behavioral, emotional, and physical) are collaboratively planned and executed through a shared understanding of each child’s holistic strengths and needs. Services fall into two related categories. The first includes traditional treatment and treatment planning/coordination services. The second category consists of treatment strategies implemented in the milieu of a day school.

Traditional Clinical Services

Each student is assigned a master’s level therapist to oversee service delivery. These therapists, supported by our consulting psychiatrist and Treatment Director, coordinate care for their students within Serendipity’s multi-disciplinary teams, with parents/guardians, and with outsider providers. Services include the following:

  • Mental health assessments
  • Collaboratively developed service plans
  • Coordination of care with other professionals and team members
  • Support to the parents/guardians to understand and have meaningful participation in the treatment process
  • Individual psychotherapy when appropriate
  • Art therapy when appropriate
  • Group psychotherapy when appropriate
  • Family therapy when appropriate
  • Psychiatric consultation

Treatment Integrated into the Milieu

It is the integration of treatment services into the milieu of a classroom that defines Serendipity as a Therapeutic School. Services that are delivered by the milieu staff fall under the umbrella of cognitive behavior treatment and psycho-educational approaches. The treatment focuses and prioritized goals established by the Clinical Case Managers guide teachers in designing curriculum for the daily class on social skills and emotional regulation provided to every student every day. The same social and self-regulation skills are practiced and reinforced in therapeutic recreation classes, therapeutic garden classes, structured play, and wellness and self-expression classes. We consider these universal interventions and deliver them to all students. More intensive interventions are individually designed and delivered. They target cognitive restructuring and utilize practices consistent with our theory base (Collaborative Problem Solving, CBT, rehearsal of replacement behaviors, Narrative, etc.). Some students need even more intensive services, which can include crisis intervention, verbal de-escalation, and emotional restoration/stabilization. There is no part of a child’s school day that is not designed to address both treatment and educational goals. Similarly, there is no part of a child’s school day during which our structure and approaches are not adjusted to accommodate clinical needs.

Clinical consultation and supervision occurs on both a scheduled and informal basis. Interpretation of mental health assessments and any subsequent changes to mental health assessments are regular topics in clinical consultation with classroom teams. Also prioritized is the review of data indicating responses to interventions and progress on treatment goals.

By truly blending mental health support in a special education setting, program staff are more equipped to lend understanding to the whole student, taking into account their context and circumstances. It is our belief that by providing this level of support, our students become more stable and ready to make lasting changes.

To read more about the impact of our therapeutic services, read Our Students’ Stories.