School-Based Therapy

Bethany for Children & Families employs professional therapists who provide counseling and therapy services within Iowa schools during school hours, for children and adolescents with emotional and/or behavioral challeneges. Bethany therapists can help youth gain effective coping skills, explore positive ways to express their frustration and anger, and help identify life stressors that can impact their emotional well-being.

Bethany's licensed therapists treat a variety of issues, including:

  • Depression

  • Self-harm

  • School-related issues such as peer problems and bullying

  • Anxiety

  • Relationship problems

  • Grief and loss

  • Adjustment disorders

  • Childhood/adolescent disorders

A Story of Success from Clients of
School-Based Therapy

Cheryl didn't know what to do. Every day, when she took her grandson Sam to school, he would refuse to leave the car. Not just refuse. He would sob like his heart was breaking. They would then spend 30 minutes while he cried. Then she tried reasoning, arguing, and finally pleading with him before he would finally make it inside. It was exhausting for both of them.

Sam’s teachers reported that he sometimes cried during class and seldom participated. He was even afraid to go outside and play during recess. Cheryl understood the root of his fears. After all, the boy’s own father had once kidnapped him from school, threatened him, and used him as leverage against his mother. It was too much for a five year old to process. Of course he was terrified.

Sam was placed with Cheryl after the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with the family due to severe domestic violence, which was so traumatic that Sam’s mom was blinded in one eye. For his own safety, Sam moved in with Cheryl; his mother was given some time to heal and establish a safe household; and his father was incarcerated.

After days of witnessing their morning struggle in the parking lot, the volunteer crossing guard told Cheryl that there was a therapist in the school – one from Bethany for Children & Families – who might be able to help. He told Cheryl that the school-based therapist had helped a number of students. Cheryl met with Jen, the Bethany therapist, and felt a flutter of hope. Sam met with her the next day.

Jen and Sam started simply, using drawing and music to get to know each other and work through emotions. It didn’t take long for Jen to realize that Sam – a kindergartner – was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the violence he had witnessed in his own home. After he became more comfortable, Jen also used play and relaxation therapy techniques to encourage Sam to tell her about some of the things that made him afraid. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Jen helped Sam work on overcoming the fears that caused him so much anxiety while going to school and socializing with his classmates.

For 18 months, Jen met with Sam twice a week. Between individual sessions, family sessions, and eventually group sessions with his classmates, Sam has become comfortable with the school environment and with his own emotions. He is able to verbalize his feelings and use coping skills to avoid reaching extreme emotional states. Toward the end of his second year working with Jen, Sam moved back in with his mother who had completed all the requisites set by the Iowa DHS. At home, his mom reports that he is always laughing and playing with his younger brother. At school, he participates in class regularly and makes friends more easily. No longer held prisoner by fear, Sam now lives the life of a typical little boy.