Legacy Traditional Schools implemented teletherapy this year to ensure its students receive the counseling services they need despite a shortage of school psychologists.
Teletherapy is an online therapy tool that allows a client to receive professional services from a clinician.
At Legacy Traditional Schools (Legacy), the school psychologists act as a counselor and the students using teletherapy to speak to the counselor through an iPad.
Jesse Crandall, school psychologist and assistant director of Exceptional Student Services, explained that students using teletherapy are escorted from their classroom to a private room.
A staff member will set up the call with the school psychologist, or counselor, and then wait outside the room until the teletherapy session is over.
The student is then taken back to the classroom to carry out the rest of the school day.
“In order to meet those students’ needs in an efficient manner and an appropriate manner, teletherapy comes in super handy,” Crandall said.
Crandall explained Arizona is facing a shortage of school psychologists, but students still need counseling services.
In addition to the shortage, “We’re dispersed throughout the Phoenix metro area so we have schools 80 miles to 100 miles apart from one another,” Crandall said.
Legacy implemented teletherapy in response to the shortage and proximity issues, so students could receive counseling if needed.
“We don’t let it impact our students, first and foremost,” Crandall said. “We do everything within our power to meet the needs of our students and that’s why teletherapy is so important to us.”
Teletherapy is used at three of Legacy’s campuses.
“It’s working very well, and we don’t want to implement it at schools without a solid foundation of how to use it correctly,” Crandall said. “We’ve started small and we are toying with the idea of expanding it in the future for sure.”
Ensuring students have access to the counseling support they need is a priority for Legacy as it aims to benefit students’ mental health and academic success.
“We’re using it right now primarily for counseling support, so it kind of goes hand in hand,” Crandall said. “If a student has a sound mental state, they’ll be able to perform academically within the classroom.”
Legacy has three primary ways it provides counseling support to its students, and teletherapy is offered for each of them.
Non-individualized education plan counseling is for students who are facing issues that ultimately impact their academic performance.
“It’s a short-term period. Parents need to agree to it and sign permission for us to pull those students out. But we can provide telecounseling, or teletherapy, through this support,” Crandall said.
504 counseling is for students who have a mental or health impairment that limits major life activity.
“These are students that may have an anxiety diagnosis from a medical provider, a bipolar diagnosis,” Crandall said. “They may not need specially designed instruction through an IEP, and they’ll just need reasonable accommodations to access the curriculum.”
Individualized education plan counseling is provided to students who need special education services in order to be successful in the classroom or any environment in the school setting.
“We do goals and objectives that relate the student’s specific needs through counseling support.”