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August 6-9

In place of the 2020 Symposium at Venice International University that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, we  instead held our 2020 Symposium as a free webinar. We believe this is a valuable way of helping our current and prospective members to stay connected and to help continue our mission of advancing the field of School-Based Family Counseling.


Parents' educational involvement and educational goals: In the Eyes of the Beholder


Nurit Kaplan Toren, PhD

Oranim Academic College of Education

University of Haifa

Haifa, Israel                                                                              


There is a broad agreement that family and school are the most significant social institutions affecting children's development. The present presentation will focus on parent, teachers and children relationships as reflected in parents' educational involvement and as parents and teachers rate educational goals. Research on parents' educational involvement is based primarily on a single source report, that of the parent, the child, or the teacher. In this presentation two studies will report the voices of all three partners. Study 1. Cross-sectional data were collected from 449 eighth-grade adolescents (Female = 47%) and 126 mothers. Adolescents and their mothers completed parallel parents’ educational involvement questionnaires. Results showed no relation between mothers' reports and adolescents' perceptions of their parents' educational involvement. However, adolescents' data indicate parents' involvement is linked to both adolescents' self-evaluation and adolescents’ academic achievement.  Study 2. This study examined kindergarten teachers' and parents' priorities regarding eight early childhood education goals set by the Israeli ministry of education. Participants were 209 parents and 182 k-teachers. Results indicated identical priorities for parents' and k-teacher's goals attributed to themselves. However, priorities differed when attributed to the other (parents’ attributions to k-teachers and k-teachers to parents). Conclusions: The first study indicated that mothers’-adolescents’ disagreement regarding mothers’ educational involvement notwithstanding, adolescents are aware of the significant role mothers play in the adolescents’ schooling. The second study showed that while parents and k-teachers hold similar goal preferences, they are unaware of the agreement between them. These findings highlight the need for improving communication between parents, children and teachers. Moreover, SBFC practitioners should be aware of the different voices of the three partners.

Culturally Informed School-based Suicide Prevention: Risk, Response & Resilience


Shashank V. Joshi, MD

Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics & Education

Stanford University School of Medicine

Palo Alto, California, USA                           


This lecture will present the HEARD Alliance K12 Toolkit for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention, a web-linked based resource listed as a best practice document by the California Dept of Education that can be used to comply with AB 2246 and AB 1767, The Pupil Suicide Prevention Law. It requires all local educational agencies (LEA): county offices of education, school districts, state special schools, or charter schools to have a Pupil Suicide Prevention Policy. The policy applies to all students at LEAs in grades K to 12. It must be developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders, school-employed mental health professionals, and suicide prevention experts. And it must address procedures relating to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. The purpose of this Toolkit is to support school communities in improving their overall well-being. It is designed with parents, students, teachers, school personnel, counselors and health providers in mind. The Toolkit provides tools to help promote mental health, intervene in a mental health crisis, and support members of a school community after the loss of someone to suicide. It is divided into three sections: Promotion of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Intervention in a Suicidal Crisis, and Postvention Response to Suicide. Our hope is to promote well-being and prevent suicide through the measures described in this document. This talk will also review culturally adapted practices in order to promote implementation of AB 2246 and 1767 in diverse communities throughout California. Adaptations of this Toolkit for the age of COVID-19 will also be presented. implementation of AB 2246 and 1767 in diverse communities throughout California. Adaptations of this Toolkit for the age of COVID-19 will also be presented.

Connecting the SBFC Dots: Family Therapy in Schools Topical Interest Network


Erin Cushing, MA, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

    South Glastonbury, Connecticut, USA

Wade Fuqua, PhD, LPC, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

    North Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Eileen Klima, MA, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

    Humboldt, California, USA

Kathleen Laundy, PsyD, Department of Counselor Education and Family Therapy

    Central Connecticut University, New Britain, Connecticut, USA        

Laura Wallace, PhD, LMFT, Department of Couple & Family Therapy

    Antioch University Seattle, Seattle, Washington, USA


Since the 1970s, school-based mental health services in the US have been provided through a mandated special education “planning and placement” process of individual student assessment (Public Law 94-142).  In the past two decades, systemic initiatives such as SBFC have been added to offer more comprehensive support for student learning and resilience.  All states have now enacted licensure for the profession of family therapy as one of the six US licensed mental health professions.  Family therapy is now both a multidisciplinary practice and the newest licensed profession.  It is regulated by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).  As family therapists now enter such practice venues as schools, medicine and the military, AAMFT created Topical Interest Networks (TINs) in 2018 to expand the practice of systemic family therapy across settings.  This presentation features the work of the first US Leadership Team of the Family Therapy in Schools TIN.  Kathleen Laundy, PsyD, LMFT, Erin Cushing, MS, LMFT, Wade Fuqua, PhD, LMFT, Laura Wallace, PhD, LMFT, and Eileen Klima, MS, LMFT, will present the results of our first two years of TIN effort.The Family Therapy in Schools TIN has grown to over 300, and we will summarize three areas of focus.  First, our Leadership Team will address how we connect with systemic school therapists across the country through bimonthly Zoom workshops highlighting SBFC innovators, a Spotlight Newsletter, and a Member Forum of email communication on our web site.  Next, we will highlight how MFTs are joining school teams in three ways:  through state certification, private contracted services in schools, and through the development of community partnerships.  Third, we will advocate for building the evidence base for the effectiveness of school-based, family friendly mental health teams across the world.



Mirta Ison 1,2, Daniela González 2 & Celina Korzeniowski 1,2

1 Human, Social and Environmental Science Institute of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (INCIHUSA - CONICET), Technological Scientific Centre (CCT Mendoza- CONICET), Argentina

2 Faculty of Psychology, Aconcagua University, Mendoza, Argentina



Development during early childhood has been shown to possess particular characteristics, presenting itself as a sensitive period filled with "windows of opportunity" to enhance cognitive and socio-emotional functions. In this sense, the educational and family context is an optimal environment favoring the integral development of children. The main objective was to train teachers in socio-cognitive functioning in boys and girls in initial education in the province of Mendoza (Argentina), in order to optimize student development in these functions. The project was carried out in 2 public pre-primary schools, with different socio-contextual characteristics. The first pre-primary school, was located in an urban environment of a middle and lower-to-middle neighborhood. The second school is in a socially-vulnerable area in a nearby urban municipality. We worked with a total of 257 initial-level students (4 -5-year olds). The work was carried out in 3 stages, in order to verify if the stimulation imparted by the teachers could promote socio-cognitive performance in the students.  First, children were evaluated in order to investigate, maturity indicators, working memory, identification of emotions and sustained attention. For their part, the teachers answered the Executive Functioning Scale (Korzeniowski & Ison, 2019). The second stage consisted of theoretical-practical training for teachers as promoters and facilitators of socio-cognitive development in their students. The third stage was “Post-evaluation”, in which the socio-cognitive performance in children, the teachers and the parents' perception of the applied stimulation program were evaluated. The results showed significant improvements in children's performance in different socio-cognitive functions after stimulation strategies were applied intensively, systematically, and maintained in the school context. In turn, 79% of the teachers gave a positive assessment of the training sessions, highlighting the relevant support of the provided materials and strategies. 75% of the parents considered that the stimulation program produced significant advances in school performance of their children.

Improving the Lives of Lakota Youth and Families on the Pine Ridge Reservation Using a Culture-Based Youth Development Approach


Aimee Pond, MSc, CSW, Director:Youth Leadership Development Initiative

Lynn Cuny, MA, Deputy Director: Thunder Valley CDC

Taylor Christensen,Youth Leadership VISTA   

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, USA


Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (TVCDC) is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, United States. Its creation was inspired by a group of spiritual youth and adults who were very spiritually connected to our culture. TVCDC started by bringing a group of young people together to ask what their needs are or what they envision for their community and realizing there were many who needed homes, employment, access to healthy foods, and a need to reinforce Lakota language and values. TVCDC consists of nine different initiatives that work together to engage the community and enforce our Lakota values. Throughout time, TVCDC has grown to meet many of the needs of our community and has been a very wide resource for our people within our reservation. One of these initiatives is the Youth Leadership Development Initiative (YLDI) which builds upon community strengths to address needs through making cultural traditions, practices, Lakota language, and ceremonies the means of healing and restoration. The Reservation has a long history of genocide, racism, and historical trauma. Faced with geographic isolation, minimal employment and limited access to extracurricular activities, youth have an increased risk of suicide, depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse and criminal activity. Along with being disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system, many Native American youth are overwhelmingly faced with systemic and infrastructural injustices such as overcrowded homes, unhealthy foods, low performing schools, and parents that are unemployed. These are the needs we aim to address with our preliminary YLDI and pilot programs. In short, our ideas include, youth leadership & internship programs, cultural camps, mentoring, traditional/contemporary recreational/physical activities, youth council, and after school programs to remediate these pervasive, systemic injustices and prevent youth from falling into self-destructive patterns and eventually the criminal justice system.

How covert aggression contributes to the power imbalance experienced by children who are bullied


Helen Nelson, PhD; Garth Kendall, PhD; and Sharyn Burns, PhD.

Curtin University

Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Study focus. In bullying research, the term covert has been used to contrast relational acts of aggression with physical and verbal aggression. In Australia, children have described covert aggression as that which is deliberately hidden from adults. This has implications for adults who care for children in schools.  

Question and assumptions. We explored children’s experience of the power imbalance associated with covert bullying, using a systems framework. Bullying was defined as aggression that is repeated in a relationship of power imbalance.

Method. In a mixed-methods study, thematic analysis of focus group discussion with children from one school (n=22, ages 9-11) identified factors that influence power imbalance. Results informed the design and validation of two measurement instruments with children from four schools (n=337, ages 8-12). Structural equation modelling was used. Instruments measured: peer related aspects of power imbalance; children’s experience of teacher support after reporting aggression.

Findings. Factors that influenced power imbalance included peer valued characteristics, popularity, friendship, social exclusion, and secrets from the teacher. Adults did not always see that children were bullying others or being bullied. Some children who reported bullying were overlooked, their experience of harm dismissed by the teacher; other children who felt heard by the teacher were excluded by peers.

Discussion. Implications for school-based family counseling relate to intervention within a systems model to promote cultural patterns that support acceptance, belonging and resilience.

Supporting Students’ Executive Functions in the Classroom Context


Celina Korzeniowski, PhD & Mirta Ison, PhD

Human, Social and Environmental Science

Institute of the National Scientific-

Technological Research Council


Technological-Scientific Center

(CCT Mendoza – CONICET)

Faculty of Psychology

Aconcagua University, Mendoza, Argentina


Executive Functions (EFs) are higher-order cognitive abilities involved in the self-regulation of actions, thoughts, and emotions. EFs’ proper development is associated with well-being, health, and positive social relationships, and it is a critical predictor of school performance. The contexts in which children grow up, especially family and school, shape the development of EFs. At school, educators play a critical role in modeling and supporting students’ self-regulation skills. In line with this position, the general objective of this work was to design a school-based intervention aimed at: 1) helping teachers reflect on their educational practices used to support students’ self-regulation; and, 2) training educators in the design of teaching sequences aimed at promoting students’ EFs. For Methodology, 700 educators from the province of Mendoza, Argentina, participated. The professional training was structured in three stages. In the first stage, a theoretical-practical training was offered on the implication of EFs in self-regulated learning. In the second stage, teachers self-assessed their educational practices in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses in scaffolding students' EFs skills, using the Educational Practices Inventory (Korzeniowski, 2019). In the third stage, the teachers’ teams proposed educational sequences articulating school curricula with strategies aimed at promoting EFs. For Results, it was noted that educators more frequently employed strategies to scaffold students’ cognitive flexibility and less frequently employed behaviors related to support control attention and metacognition.  Based on teachers’ self-assessment, the educators designed 105 teaching sequences in which they embedded areas of the school curriculum -Math, Spanish, Science, Art, Gym- with strategies to promoting students’ EFs. Teaching sequences were creative, innovative, easy to apply and used a variety of resources.  In Conclusion, training teachers in using a continuous process of assessment, implementation, and evaluation of teaching sequences to strengthen students’ EFs is a valuable way to make classroom environments more supportive of students’ cognitive development.

Growing SBFC Self-Help Networks in a Pandemic:  The SSWN Webinar Series and SSWNetwork


Michael S. Kelly PhD, LCSW

School of Social Work

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, USA


A key feature of the current COVID-19 crisis has been the closure of schools around the world and the shift to supporting PreK-12 students through "remote learning."  Over the course of 3 months, our SSWNetwork (a free online resource for all school mental health professionals) grew from 2,100 to 4,500 members, all of them seeking support in how to best do school-based family counseling (SBFC) in this new reality.  This presentation will outline several major examples of how the SSWNetwork, in partnership with students from the Loyola School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP) were able to provide a range of new supports including: 1. supportive webinars (the SSWN Webinar Series, which has been viewed over 15,000 times on our YouTube channel); 2. LunchTime LiveChats, co-sponsored by SSWNetwork and the national SSW organization SSWAA and which ran 3 times a week from April 1st-June 12th, and drew many SSWNetwork members and outside experts; 3. and original articles written by SMHAPP students and other interested SBFC colleagues all about their responses to COVID-19. All of these interventions were created in large part from an organic, iterative process and offer clues about how SSW and other SBFC can be best empowered to respond in this crisis and to turn around and share their expertise with other fellow practitioners to build a virtual community while we have all been sheltering-in-place. The next steps for SSWNetwork are outlined, with special attention paid to how the lessons learned from this crisis time will be applied by SSWNetwork members hoping to help their schools re-open successfully this Fall.

Understanding the Experiences of School-Based Marriage and Family Therapists


Wade Fuqua, PhD, LPC, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

North Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


The school setting is an increasingly examined area for mental health intervention.  There is a growing body of research surrounding the role of systemically trained therapists working in school-related positions, and the multidisciplinary foundation of Marriage and Family Therapy is key to the better understanding the implementation of systemic thinking in the school setting.  Drawing on earlier research by authors such as Vennum and Vennum (2013) and Laundy (2015), the presenter conducted an interpretive phenomenological analysis to examine the experiences of licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and their work in schools.  Through a series of structured interviews, participants were asked a series of questions in order to better understand the therapist’s experience of providing services to students, supporting school staff, and implementing systemic interventions in the academic environment.  Participants included graduates of COAMFTE accredited universities, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and individuals who were either currently working in a school setting or had done so within the last five years.  After a thorough analysis and development of common themes among the transcripts, four themes emerged from the data. The themes were (a) the naturally systemic environment of schools, (b) a bifurcation in experiences of engaging the entire school system or focusing on treating the identified client, (c) an intentional involvement of family, and (d) advocating starts at the school level. Using exiting research and data reported by participants, the presenter draws comparison to other professions with which systemic therapy has been integrated, and identifies collaborative advocacy strategies for future efforts.

A to Z of Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Lifestyle Webinar

Helen Y. Sung, Ph.D., LEP

Alliant International University

Emeryville, California, USA


Sung (2010) found that it is the parents who influence the culture and the environment that promote or stifle emotional intelligence development. However, when parents grew up in a hierarchical and domineering environment, their beliefs and ways of practice do not change easily. As a result, a thematic approach that builds on each other was develop by using the twenty-six letters of the alphabet to encourage practice and repetition over time.  Parent education classes were conducted in public elementary school in Silicon Valley, California, in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. The parents met once a week for 13 weeks to cover two letters in one hour. The purpose was to help parents remember the concepts through alphabetical themes.  The participants gave written feedback on a questionnaire and a few volunteered to give testimonials about their experiences.  The symposium members will gain knowledge about the comprehensive nature of the parent education series and the outcome.  Moving forward, the A to Z series are available on a website and free access will be offered for trainers.

Developing A School-Based Response to High-Conflict Divorce

Jeff Chang, Ph. D., R.Psych.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines

Athabasca University, Calgary, AB, Canada


High conflict separation, divorce, and coparenting are deleterious to children and adults alike. Moreover, they lead to the plurality of professional complaints for mental health practitioners, leading many to manage risk by declining to see such children and families. Those who choose to be involved typically have provide short-term services. On the other hand, schools desire to have long-term relationships with students and families, and do not have the luxury of declining to serve students whose parents are embroiled in high-conflict interactions. Poorly managed post-separation parenting conflict, in addition to rendering children less able to engage in academic pursuits, is stressful for teachers, school administrators, and ancillary staff like secretaries and bus drivers. In this presentation, Jeff will: provide a brief primer on high-conflict separation, divorce, and coparenting; provide recommendations about how to best serve students whose parents are embroiled in high-conflict coparenting; create an environment of safety and neutrality for children; and, highlight the key role of school-based family counsellors in maintaining a systemic view and consulting with and supporting school personnel.

2020 Oxford Symposium in School-Based Family Counseling Webinar Conclusion

During the last hour of the Webinar the following topics were covered and may be viewed on the video below:

Update on Special Interest Groups:

            Evidence-Based Practice Team

            SBFC Refugee and Immigrant Research and Intervention Team

            Disastershock Global Response Team

Award for Outstanding Contribution to SBFC

Award for Best Practice in SBFC

Shared Member Reflections on the 2020 Webinar

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