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2019 Oxford Symposium in SBFC Abstracts and Presenter Interviews

25 Years of Place2Be, A School Based Mental Health Service in the United Kingdom: What have we learned?  Where are we now. Where are we going?

Stephen Adams-Langley, PhD, Place2Be, London, UK

Place2Be has provided school-based family counselling in 300 schools all over the United Kingdom. What have we learned about provision, collaboration, challenges and success that can be shared with school based mental health providers?

Using Mentalization Theory and the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) Approach in SBFC

John Agudelo, The Mulberry Bush School, Oxford, UK

Problem solving and conflict resolution are key components of the desired outcome of therapeutic work involving individuals or groups. From a systemic standpoint, problems are viewed as being part and parcel of what happens between people interacting with each other for specific reasons, within specific contexts. This presentation will explore ways in which people try to make sense of their interactions, how their individual experiences of the world influence the stories that they tell about themselves and the other, and how their shared “realities” are co-constructed. The use of mentalization (defined as the capacity to reflect upon and to understand one’s state of mind), and of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) theory as useful tools to maximize the outcome of SBFC, will be discussed and illustrated with case studies.

Re-Positioning the Role of Families in Emergent Teacher Development

Karen Buchanan, EdD and Thomas Buchanan, EdD, George Fox University, Oregon, USA

There is consensus in the literature that when schools collaborate with families and community there is a significant impact on student achievement and well-being, however, research consistently reports that teachers, both in-service and pre-service, feel unprepared to do this aspect of their work. With an aspiration to strengthen pre-service teacher preparation, a recent study explored how a research-informed assignment that asks candidates to engage as learners with families and community shapes the development of emergent teachers. Investigators employed qualitative content analysis to explore reflections from a convenience sample of 47 graduate teacher candidates, at a private northwest comprehensive university, in their final semester of full-time, K-12 clinical practice.  The study suggests that teacher candidates can reposition the role of the family in their child’s education. Findings indicate that when teacher candidates engage with families as learners, they gain knowledge that shapes how they serve their students. This knowledge may provide a more complete or wholistic view of diverse learners, sometimes challenging previous conclusions and assumptions. Teacher candidates reported growing in their conviction that listening and learning from families should be a priority in their future teaching practice. Discussion of the findings include how this developing model of teacher preparation aligns with the School Based Family Counseling (SBFC) orientation and how the present study may inform the work of SBFC professionals as they seek to enhance in-service teacher collaboration with the families of all learners.


Effective Referral Processes in School Mental Health: Multicultural Considerations in a Eurocentric System


Michael J. Carter, PhD and Emily J. Hernandez, PhD, California State University, Los Angeles, USA

A prevalent problem in school settings is the lack of follow-through by families on mental health referrals provided by school personnel. This chapter provides an overview of the background and challenges involved in mental health referrals to mental health agencies outside the school environment, particularly by families with multicultural backgrounds. An example is provided of an effective referral process in school mental health with a focus on multicultural considerations within a predominantly Eurocentric system. Two case studies are provided, one reflecting the challenges of a referral to a traditional Eurocentric mental health agency, and the second case study involving a referral to an agency that utilized a more multiculturally appropriate conjoint family therapy intervention. Promising trends in multicultural mental health are also described.

Focusing on Student Happiness: School Counselor Role Towards Fostering Students’ Subjective Well-Being

Richard E. Cleveland, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS, College of Education, Georgia Southern University

United States public schools continue to place much emphasis on student academic achievement with little regard to other aspects of student functioning. However, recent attention to overall school climate and/or culture affords opportunity for P-12 educators to address student-centered factors which may seem (on a superficial level) non-academic, yet remain salient towards the creation and maintenance of a supportive, caring learning environment. This presentation discusses student subjective well-being (SWB) as one such non-academic component, asserting that inclusion of factors such as students’ SWB not only contributes to school climate/culture, but to overall school improvement as well. Further, the presentation will outline strategies how professional school counselors can address student SWB, as well as partner with students’ families in efforts to increase SWB.

The Association Between School Corporal Punishment and Students’ Mental Health

Sibnath Deb, PhD, DSC,  Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India

Corporal punishment is a deep-rooted cultural practice in India, both at home and in schools. There is a strong belief among parents and teachers that, it is the best way to discipline children and/or secure better academic performance from them through its application. In schools, corporal punishment is mostly applied for violating school discipline, not coming to school in proper school uniform, not completing the home work, peer bullying, not being able to answer questions asked by a teacher and/or poor academic performance. There is considerable evidence relating to the association between corporal punishment at home and behavioural problems of children. However, data concerning school corporal punishment and its impact on children’s behavioural problems is scanty. To examine this issue, a study was carried out in Puducherry, India, covering 519 school students. Findings disclosed that 62% of the students reported experience of corporal punishment in the past 12 months and it was more experienced by male students and more practiced in public schools as compared to private schools. Students who reported experience of corporal punishment had more anxiety and depression, especially among the students who came from disturbed families. Surprisingly, resilience and social support did not play a role in moderating the issue. The findings need attention of school administrators for creating awareness among teachers about the adverse effects of corporal punishment and available legislative measures, in addition to strengthening school-based family counselling, to minimize family disturbances and sensitizing parents to extend quality care to their children for their proper education.  Intervention with both parents and teachers would help to improve the situation in terms of understanding why a particular student could not complete the home work or answer a particular question or manifests any problem behaviour, which resulted in the corporal punishment.  

Promoting home reading and ethnic identity through national book programs: The experience of Pajama Library ("Sifriyat Pijama") and Lantern Library ("Maktabat al-Fanoos") in Israel

Sylvia Kamowitz Hareven, M.A., Education Director, Sifriyat Pijama, Israel

Sifriyat Pijama (Pajama Library, est. 2009) and Maktabat al-Fanoos (Lantern Library, est. 2014) are Israeli national programs that provide high-quality picture books to young children aged 3-8, reaching 90% of children in the public education system. Operated through a unique partnership between government and a non-profit (The Harold Grinspoon Foundation), the programs distribute eight books a year (four in primary school), ultimately providing each child with a personal home library of 32 read-aloud books. For many families these are the only children’s books in the home. Using a combined school- and home-based model, the programs serve children from diverse backgrounds: Jewish, Christian, Moslem and Druze; religious and secular; immigrant and Israeli-born; disadvantaged and wealthy. Within this multicultural diversity the books serve as a unifying influence, as teachers work together with families to foster a love of books, nurture close relationships between parents and children, encourage shared conversational reading in the home, diminish the gap between home and school, and enhance the children's personal and collective identities.

At the core of the programs is the belief that children's literature and shared reading can serve as vehicles for empowerment, identity building and cultural cohesion. The Israeli population is a highly linguistically- and culturally-diverse community.  Arabs in Israel may be Muslim, Christian, Druze or semi-nomadic Bedouin. While most Hebrew-speaking Israelis are Jewish, Jewish-Israeli society is a plurality ranging from ultra-Orthodox to secular and many are first generation immigrants from countries around the world. Alongside the cultural and linguistic differences are socio-economic divides as well.  Book selection committees comprise specialists from the fields of children's literature, illustration, literacy, culture and early childhood learning, as well as representatives of the relevant departments within Israel's Ministry of Education. The committees seek to identify books that are developmentally appropriate and culturally sensitive, high quality with regard to text and illustration, and encourage family conversations around values, heritage, emotions and beliefs.

The committee members approach the book-selection process with great sensitivity in order to enhance identification with the plot and characters and encourage meaningful conversations among children and families from varied walks of life. A particular challenge in the Arabic program is "diglossia" (the gap between written and spoken languages), while the Hebrew program struggles to identify and broaden a common canon within a religiously and culturally divided society. In light of the distinct challenges of Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking Israeli societies, the programs' book selection committees are autonomous. Yet attempts are made to include in each year's lists several common books. Some examples of books used in both programs include "Mummy and Me" by Emma Chichester Clark, "The Bridge" by Heinz Janisch, and "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young. Evaluation findings and anecdotal testimonials consistently demonstrate that the programs not only promote children's budding literacy capabilities, but also impact family reading habits, empower disadvantaged families, and promote a common literary and cultural canon among different strata of society.  Sifriyat Pijama and Maktabat al-Fanoos are based on the US-based program PJ Library, founded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.


The MIRACLE of Values-based Education (VbE) - The Quiet Revolution

Neil Hawkes, PhD and Jane Hawkes, UKCP registered psychotherapist, Values-Based Education International, Burnham Bucks, United Kingdom

Last year Neil & Jane talked about their book The Inner Curriculum.  This year they will explore the pillars of Values-based Education (VbE) which can be expressed in the acronym MIRACLE. VbE empowers educational settings to underpin their life and curriculum with universal positive human values such as respect, integrity, honesty and compassion. The outcome of developing such an ethical vocabulary is ethical intelligence, which Neil argues is the most important intelligence for the sustainability of our world. The ethical vocabulary is the foundation of a new universal narrative through which all human beings, irrespective of culture; religion or ethnicity can communicate, thereby establishing trust and well-being. The outcome of Values-based Education is self-leadership, which enables each individual to work towards fulfilling their wonderful potential.

Processes and Pathways of Parental Involvement in Education in Israel

Nurit Kaplan-Toren, PhD, University of Haifa, Israel

In the last 70 years, since the establishment of the State of Israel, parental involvement in education has taken on different forms and meanings, reflecting significant changes in society. In the first two decades of the existence of the state, Israeli society consisted of a majority of immigrants. During that time, the education system was centralized, under the management of the Ministry of Education. Professional educators assumed that parents who had just arrived in the country (new immigrants) were not familiar with the language and culture, and were immersed in the absorption presses. Therefore, educators and schools assumed responsibility for children's education. In the last three decades, however, the relationship between parents, teachers, and schools has changed dramatically.  The economic situation in Israel has improved, most of the parents are educated and wish to be involved in their children’s education, and having gained greater autonomy, schools are seeking the parents' support. In the multicultural-multiethnic Israeli society, Arabs and Jews attend different school systems, with 75% of children enrolled in Jewish schools and 25% (Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Bedouins) in Arab schools. The segregated schools reflect different cultural traditions and instruction in their respective languages. Across both school systems, Arab and Jewish parents are committed to being involved in their children’s education. The nature of this involvement, however, varies between cultural groups. For example, Jewish parents participate voluntarily and actively in school activities, whereas Arab parents generally wait to be invited by school staff to participate in school activities. The first official Ministry of Education document discussing the importance of teacher-parent relationships was published in 1996. Nevertheless, only in the last decade have the schools and the public at large showed awareness of the importance of this topic and paid attention to it. Consequently, teachers' training programs began to allocate resources to preparing pre-service teachers to establish effective partnerships with parents, as part of the teachers' professional role. 

Taking Training to the Next Level:  Using Technology through Professional Learning Community (PLC) Models to Increase School-Based Family Counselors' Skills in Using Data & EBP

Michael S. Kelly PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois, USA

Professional learning communities (PLCs) for teacher educators in schools have shown some effectiveness in positively facilitating professional collaboration and trust, building instructional capacity, and improving student learning outcomes, mostly via on-site meetings during or after school hours (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2007). However, research on PLCs for school social workers (SSW) and other school mental health professionals is almost nonexistent, despite the reality that many SSW describe feeling isolated and stressed in their work roles and also report a desire to acquire more skills in using data and employing evidence-based practices (EBPs) (Brake & Kelly, 2019; Phillippo, Kelly, Shayman, & Frey, 2017). As such, many SSW struggle to find consistent, easy-to-use, and accessible opportunities to collaborate in a PLC setting or other online forum, and professional development opportunities to do so often overlook these organizational, inter-professional, and implementation constraints. New approaches appear to be needed to move the field forward and this presentation will detail research on three variations on PLCs that Dr. Kelly and his team have implemented:  the Loyola PLC Project (a 2-year hybrid model involving online and in-person meetings), the Loyola School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP; a post-master's 15 credit, 99% online 2-year program), and the SSWNetwork (a new social media platform that has garnered 1,600 members in just 9 months and is presently hosting 5 PLCs on its online platform).  This presentation will offer participants a chance to explore the outcomes of the first few years of these PLC projects, with a focus on understanding how technology can be harnessed in service of increasing SSW connections and building their skills through PLCs in their schools and in virtual spaces.

A Community in Crisis: Hope for Humboldt

Eileen Klima, M.A., PPS,  Northern Humboldt School District, California, USA

Humboldt County, California in the USA is experiencing high rates of suicide, opiate overdoses and trauma that are more than double the rest of the state. School Based Family Counseling practiced in schools assisted by local community agencies can provide opportunities to teach healthy skill development to all families, particularly ones of high risk. The Northern Humboldt School District, Humboldt State University, Humboldt County Office of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and United Indian Health Services are working on eliminating agency and educational silos to develop a successful system of care to our families in crisis. The study is a pilot program called School Based Family Collaboration and all participants including the families have a place to be heard and to help problem solve. The intervention is demonstrated by raising awareness through working together to eliminate turf wars, and the primary goal is to build strong, healthy families that can share love for one another and blaze a new trail for the future generations to come.

Strategies for Educators: Comprehension and Strengthening of Executive Functions in Students

Celina Korzeniowski, PhD and Mirta Ison, PhD, Human, Social and Environmental Science Institute of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (INCIHUSA - CONICET), Technological Scientific Centre (CCT Mendoza- CONICET), Argentina; Faculty of Psychology, Aconcagua University, Mendoza, Argentina

Executive functions (EF) play a key role in the cognitive, social and emotional development of children and adolescents. Their proper development contributes to their success in schooling, promotes well-being, health and purposeful social relationships. The stage of formal education overlaps with sensitive periods of the evolutionary trajectory of the EFs, and for that reason, there is high importance and relevance in the training of teachers as promoters and facilitators of the cognitive development of children and adolescents. In line with this position, the general objective of this work was to design instances of professional training of educators aimed at the understanding of Executive Functioning in students and its application to the educational curriculum. The training was structured in three stages. In the first stage, a theoretical-practical training was offered on the implication of EFs in school performance, and 420 counselors and psycho-pedagogical advisers from the province of Mendoza, Argentina participated. The second stage was structured through a virtual platform and consisted of four theoretical-practical sessions, in which 3,000 primary and secondary level educators participated. At this stage, the teachers assessed the executive functioning of their students through the Executive Function Scale of students (EFE, Korzeniowski & Ison, 2019). The EFE assesses behaviors in students that denote: attention, metacognition, inhibitory control, working memory, planning, organization, and cognitive flexibility. 55,000 Argentine students between 10 and 15 years of age were evaluated. The results obtained indicated that the most strengthened capacities in the students were cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control, while the weakest ones were attention, metacognition and planning, according to the perception of their teachers. At the third, the teachers made proposals to improve the weakest cognitive capacities in their students, with a view to facilitating the transition between primary and secondary level. 95% of the teachers gave a positive assessment of the training sessions, highlighting the relevance and theoretical support of the provided materials and strategies. Providing instances of training and reflection for educators on the implications of schooling experiences in the cognitive development of their students is a way of promoting innovative and enriched educational practices aimed at improving student resources.

Building Bridges of Connection in School-Based Family Counseling across Disciplines and Countries

Kathleen C. Laundy, PsyD, LMFT, MSW, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut,

Mental health care in western countries has historically had a distinctly linear focus, where services are provided in siloed settings such as hospitals, clinics and private practices.  With the advent of systems theory and training over the past several decades, the six licensed mental health professions are now integrating systems of health care across disciplines and settings to accomplish more comprehensive and effective goals.  To that end, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has undergone changes in its structure to train, collaborate and help clinicians adapt to systemic practice in various settings.  It created several topical interest networks (TINs) to build bridges of multidisciplinary research and practice. The Family Therapy in Schools TIN was created this year and is the topic for this presentation. It is headed by a Leadership Team of clinical MFT leaders from across the U.S.  The presentation will address the current activities and goals of our TIN.  The Leadership Team consists of Eileen Klima (California), Laura Wallace (Washington), Laura McBride (Connecticut), the first school certified MFT in the US, Erin Cushing (Connecticut) and Kathleen Laundy (Florida and Connecticut).  In addition to our regular Zoom meetings with AAMFT to cross fertilize with other TINs, we are engaging in the following activities.  We hold quarterly TIN Zoom workshops to discuss best school-based practices.  We publish quarterly newsletters for our TIN membership to highlight members and initiatives and encourage multidisciplinary collaboration in schools.  Our goal is to extend the growth of the shift from linear to systemic best practices from our AAMFT TIN, and to partner with the Oxford Symposium and other international partners in multidisciplinary school-based practice and research. 


Stakeholders’ Perspectives of Barriers to and Promoters for Family Engagement in a Multi-Stressed School

Shannon McCarthy, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Urban schools that serve lower SES communities often face unique and individualized challenges to family engagement that many existing intervention and training models may not address, rendering school personnel unprepared to identify and navigate these barriers. This presentation focuses on a study that utilized a community-based mixed methods evaluation designed to discover and assess stakeholders’ perspectives of practices, perceived barriers, and perceived solutions to family-school-community collaboration practices in an urban high school with multiple stressors and challenges. A theoretical model illustrating specific barriers identified by stakeholders to family engagement in this type of school will be discussed, as well as some preliminary strategies to begin to address these challenges. Implications for both counseling practitioners and school-based personnel will be presented, including the importance of strategically evaluating systemic obstacles to engagement and the importance of understanding the different factors that can lead to families’ frustrations with traditional expectations and strategies for involvement.

Psychosocial and Educational Experiences of Learners from Child-headed Families in South Africa: Implications for School-based Family Counselling.

Jace Pillay, PhD, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

The focus of this study was to explore and describe the psychosocial and educational experiences of children from child-headed families in South Africa through an ecological systems model embedded in their homes, schools and local communities. The goal is to provide authentic and culturally relevant school-based family counselling support interventions for these learners. Qualitative data were collected from more than one hundred learners from child-headed families, their school teachers, counsellors and family members through individual interviews, focus groups, collages and autobiographical essays. Thematic and content analyses through Atlas ti software provided a vivid description of the learners’ living conditions, changing roles, community fears, and school experiences which inevitably affect their psychological, social and educational well-being. The results indicate the dire need for a School-Based Family Counselling (SBFC) approach to assist learners from child-headed households to overcome personal and interpersonal problems so that they could succeed at school. These learners do not have parents so there is a need to strategically include older siblings, relatives and local community agents as part of the SBFC approach. Based on the findings, recommendations are made on the need for authentic evidence-based research, cross-culturally appropriate interventions and the possibility of evaluating different SBFC models and training approaches conducive to the plight of learners from child-headed households within an African context.

Consultation Theory and Practice Research: Connecting the Home, School, and Community for Student Success

Christine Anlauf Sabatino, PhD, LICSW, C-SSWS, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064

A review of multi-disciplinary professional literature depicts consultation as a multi-dimensional method with multiple models and sets of practice tasks. School social work practice task analyses consistently include questions about “consultation” but rarely define the term. Without conceptual and operational definitions, we do not know what the researchers are really asking and what the findings truly mean. To address this issue, a national exploratory survey was conducted to gain a better understanding of school social work consultation practice tasks. This presentation discusses 1) six models of consultation with their underlying theoretical framework, problem definition, intervention method, and goal (Sabatino, 2014); 2) development of a researcher-constructed consultation questionnaire; and 3) findings of a principal component analysis (PCA) used to refine and revise the items measuring the six models with the goal of establishing reliability and validity of the instrument (Sabatino & BrintzenhofeSzoc, 2018). Drawing on consultation theory and this research, the presentation will map out the specific practice tasks that flow from each model. The intention is to help school-based family counselors conceptualize how the different models expand and enhance their interventive repertoire to foster success in the school setting with students, family, peer groups, classrooms, schools, and communities.

The Collage Life-story Elicitation Technique to Support School-Child-Family Interconnectedness: An Experiential and Collaborative Workshop

Gertina J. van Schalkwyk, PhD, Emerita Faculty, University of Macau, Macao (SAR), China

The purpose of this presentation is to explore the utility of the Collage Life-story Elicitation Technique (CLET) in a collaborative and experiential workshop. The CLET is a unique method geared towards scaffolding the process of narrating significant attachments to people, objects and events using different modes of expression and to garner a deeper understanding of the symbolism informing narrative and inter-subjective meaning making. Due to various challenges that children in the educational settings around the world face, there is need to re-examine models of school counselling and how to address the different interfaces of child, school and family, particularly for vulnerable populations.  School-Based Family Counselling (SBFC) is a useful integrated model combining school counselling with family counselling in a broad-based systems model to conceptualize concerns and challenges as well as modes of resilience in the context of all their interpersonal networks.  To practically illustrate this model in clinical and educational settings, participants in this workshop will actively engage in giving voice to their own stories of vulnerability and resilience using the CLET. After completing the five sequential steps of the CLET, participants will also engage in analysing their stories following the proposed steps for integrative narrative and thematic analysis and engage in dialogue exploring the utility of the SBFC model and CLET for research and counselling with children and families in their own work environments, establishing professional partnerships and addressing the different interfaces in the best interest of the child’s success in academics and in life.




Minimum 2 (3) hours


Room with chairs and tables on which participants can work for collage making


White or coloured A3 paper for each participant (I will provide this)


Each participant should bring 3-4 popular magazines and other print media and or photos for selecting images for the collage making, as well as a pair of scissors and glue

A Multilevel Model to Promote School Connectedness, Parent Protective Factors and Individual Resilience for Adolescents with ASD


Ian Shochet, PhD, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia

There is an increased risk of mental health problems in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a vital need for interventions to promote positive mental health and wellbeing for this population. While family and individual difference variables are of great importance, our research has also highlighted the vital role of school connectedness for adolescent mental health. Adolescents with ASD can struggle to develop this important sense of belonging. This presentation reports on our research funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism on a multilevel model (at the school, parent and individual levels) to promote wellbeing for adolescents with ASD. These integrated interventions promote school connectedness, parent protective factors and individual adolescent resilience factors (such as improved self and affect regulation and interpersonal connectedness). Our current translational research initiatives to increase the reach of these interventions through the development of a website will also be described and demonstrated.

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