Think back to your Jr. High and High School days….did you ever have difficulty focusing on your history lesson because your parents had a heated argument the night before? Or maybe you had a death in the family? Or you felt bullied? We understand that when students don’t feel safe at school or have family concerns, they usually have a hard time succeeding in school. But why is that?
If you’ve ever taken psychology or are interested in human behavior, then you’ll be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow was the founder of humanistic psychology and suggested that before we can create healthy relationships or develop confidence, we need to have our basic needs met. These needs include food, water, shelter, safety, predictability and a sense of security.
Meeting the Basic Needs
Since we opened our first After School Program four years ago, we have seen many youth who needed some extra help filling these basics. We knew they would benefit from having a therapist to talk to, to help them feel safety and a sense of security. That’s why we are really excited that this year we have Youth Services therapists at four of the schools where we hold After School Programs: Kearns Jr, Brockbank Jr, Matheson Jr and Cyprus High. This is a shift in the Youth Services’ philosophy in that we are trying to get out and serve the youth and families where they already are. So far, the experience has been positive.
Our in home therapists have provided counseling and guidance to students who have experienced a death in the family, have anger issues or are feeling depressed/suicidal. The Youth Services therapists work very closely with school counselors, social workers, psychologists and administrators in targeting and doing outreach to the students who are most vulnerable. They are an addition to the school that has become very valuable. Not only do the therapists work with the students during or after the school day, but they are also qualified to followup with the families and work in the home with the entire family to create more positive relationships and build skills.
This is what Youth Services Therapist Michelle said about her experience so far:
“There is a never a dull moment! I grew up in the area in which I now work and I am proud of that. I want the kids to be proud of it too, but also to realize they are deserving, capable and they can achieve anything they want with determination. I believe in them. I am honored to serve at this school. I want to be nurturing, a stable support system and sometimes be the enforcer that the kids need to be successful.”
Michelle spends two and a half days a week at the school, where she sees about 12 kids a day, plus consults with teachers and counselors, calls families, assists with crisis situations and provides resources. On any given day, she has followed up with an anxiety-ridden student who ran away from school or a student who recently found out his dad overdosed on drugs. She sees herself as one more person at the school who cares. After all, isn’t that what all kids need?