Stockton R-1 School District to provide on-site counseling and therapy to students K-12 during regular school hours and after-school hours, as well. 

Beginning this semester, Abby Chilton, a licensed clinical social worker, is providing on-site counseling and therapy services to students. 

Chilton can help students with depression, anxiety, recent loss/grief and behavioral issues including aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, anger outbursts, acting out sexually, cutting/suicidal ideations, substance use and bullying.

R-1 Superintendent Shannon Snow said the service — which began at Bolivar R-1 schools in August last year — was successful, and CMH had been reaching out to other communities to expand the services. 

After Snow talked with a CMH employee who suggested the possibility of bringing the service to Stockton R-1, she told him, “Can they start tomorrow? We really need the service in our school district.”

As soon as R-1 and CMH came to an agreement and got on board together, they found Chilton. 

“It is a very much needed service for our kids,” Snow said. 

Before Chilton arrived at R-1, there were no clinical social workers or counseling services in the school, Snow said. Students had to visit out-of-school counselors in the community. 

Chilton has her own office space at R-1, and students will be able to visit her during school hours.

“It disrupts the school day less,” Snow said. “Parents are more likely to utilize the service. Parents, if they have transportation issues, or if they have work schedules, they don’t have to worry about getting their kids to counseling. It’s all taking place right here in the school building.”

Regarding the scope of her practice, Chilton said she can see a variety of mental health issues. 

“We’re using cognitive behavioral therapy, which is very goal-oriented. It’s strengths-based.”

Chilton said she also has a certificate in conflict dispute resolution.             

“One of the things which made this possible is more providers to be able to go to — insurance and medicaid for the service in schools,” Snow said. “This is something not costing the district. It’s paid by the parent’s insurance, or medical plans or whatever they have.”

Regarding how the service works, Chilton said the school will identify students benefiting from the services; the school will then reach out to the students’ parents, and the parents can then give a verbal consent. 

“The clinic will schedule an appointment with the parent and child,” Chilton said. 

The first parent-child visit with the clinic is called an “‘intake,’” Chilton said, and serves an opportunity for her to get a detailed history of the students’ symptoms and problems. 

“That allows me to create a comprehensive treatment plan, and so we can monitor our goals of counseling and also our progress throughout the sessions,” Chilton said. 

So far, this service seems as if it will be a long term mainstay at R-1, Snow said.

During Chilton’s interview on Tuesday, Jan. 28, she said she already had six student referrals for her services since the beginning of the semester — a number which points toward success.

 “I feel like mental health issues are an ongoing issue, and I just feel like it’s going to be a successful partnership, and I think that it will be something that we utilize more and more for our kids,” Snow said. 

On that note, Chilton said she’s excited to work with R-1. 

“I think it’s something that’s been needed all over, especially in these small communities where we have less access to other mental health services,” Chilton said. 

Her role, she added, is to support R-1’s kids and teens.

“There’s a lot of challenges they face, and whether that means building positive relationships, whether that’s improving self-esteem or just something as vital as hope for the future — that’s what I’m here to support.”

Special arrangements can be made to schedule appointments during after-school hours and summer months. Most major insurance plans are accepted and financial assistance is available. The counseling services provided are strictly confidential and adhere to state licensing regulations and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations. Private information will be shared only upon written authorization.

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