The “Tier 3” services will be available to students in Grades 6-12, their families, and school staff
Paramus, N.J. (January 31, 2023) – NJ4S Bergen, a comprehensive mental wellness program for students and families led by Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS), has announced their Tier 3 mental health programming, available to Bergen County public school students in grades 6-12, their family, and school staff.
Chosen by the NJ4S Bergen Advisory Board, these evidence-based, clinically proven mental health services have already been requested by 25 Bergen County schools. The NJ DCF grant-funded NJ4S Bergen program was created to make prevention and clinical services easily available to over 133,000 students in all 79 of Bergen County’s school districts.
Tier 3 programming is based on assessment and brief individualized clinical interventions for students in grades 6-12. The services aim to improve overall mental health and well-being or to resolve an immediate problem providing pathways and strategies to support academic success. Students will access these services through referrals and connections to community providers, who will support ongoing mental health needs via referral for further evaluation, ongoing mental health counseling, or both. All Tier 3 services are targeted, brief clinician interventions that can be delivered in-person or virtually and require parental consent.
“Providing easily accessible services for the assessment and clinical intervention of mental health issues is essential, especially with the ongoing mental health crisis,” said John Paul Simon, assistant director of NJ4S Bergen Hub. “There are children and teens who are suffering and continue to suffer due to a lack of access to services supporting mental health. That is an unacceptable situation, but with these services available to students, everyone will be able to get the help they need.”
All NJ4S programs and services were selected to address the top issues facing Bergen County students as identified by the community needs assessment survey. These include anxiety, depression, trauma, school engagement/avoidance, and family dynamics. The Tier 3, intervention-based programs, categorized by the topics they address, are:
Anxiety & Depression:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy meant to bring awareness to inaccurate or negative thinking, allowing individuals to perceive challenging situations more clearly and respond effectively. While effective for mental health conditions, CBT also proves valuable for anyone looking to improve stress management skills in diverse life situations.
Rational Emotive Behavior, a practical therapy that helps individuals cope with adversity, achieve goals and improve life satisfaction. Emphasizing the present, it targets attitudes, unhealthy emotions and maladaptive behaviors by identifying and challenging unhelpful thinking patterns through collaboration with practitioners.
Trauma-focused CBT, a structured, short-term treatment spanning 8-25 sessions for youth and caregivers, addressing impacts of trauma, including affective, cognitive, and behavioral issues, without necessitating a PTSD diagnosis while also enhancing the well-being of participating parents or caregivers.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy, an action-oriented approach guiding clients in acknowledging their inner emotions and recognizing appropriate responses to specific situations, enabling them to move forward in their lives. Through this understanding clients embrace their challenges and dedicate themselves to essential behavioral changes.
The Attachment Regulation and Competency Framework (ARC), a flexible, components-based intervention for children and adolescents exposed to complex trauma and their caregivers. Rooted in normative childhood development, traumatic stress, attachment, and risk resilience, ARC identifies crucial childhood skills and competencies that are often negatively impacted by traumatic stress and attachment disruptions.
Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET), a strengths-based method designed for survivors of physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional trauma. TARGET teaches seven skills, encapsulated in the acronym FREEDOM (Focus, Recognize triggers, Emotion self-check, Evaluate thoughts, Define goals, Options, and Make a contribution), to empower trauma survivors to regulate intense emotions, handle intrusive trauma memories, enhance self-efficacy, and attain enduring recovery from trauma.
For School Engagement/Avoidance:
Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Adolescents (PE-A), a therapeutic approach focusing on addressing the developmental concerns of adolescents, incorporating family involvement and developmentally appropriate exercises. The four phases—pre-treatment preparation, psychoeducation and planning, exposure, and relapse prevention—are designed to let adolescents progress at their own pace.
Motivational Interviewing, a communication style that serves as a guiding approach between attentive listening and providing direction or advice. Tailored to empower individuals to make positive changes, Motivational Interviewing encourages clients to discern their own significance, importance, and ability to bring about change. This program is rooted respectfully and inquisitively engaging with people, fostering a natural progression of change while respecting client autonomy.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, an evidence-based, short-term therapeutic approach that brings about change by emphasizing the construction of solutions rather than fixating on problems.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST), an intensive family and community-based intervention for serious juvenile offenders and their families to reduce youth criminal behavior and prevent out-of-home placements. Key features include integrating evidence-based treatments, a focus on promoting behavior change within the client’s natural environment, thorough quality assurance to ensure treatment success and establishing methods to overcome barriers to behavior change.
Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT?), an evidence-based practice for treating externalizing issues like substance abuse, acting out, truancy or bullying, and internalizing symptoms like depression or anxiety in children and teens, simultaneously working to reorganize problematic family interactions.
Alternatives for Families, a comprehensive strategy to lower or stop the impacts of child or family anger, aggression, and child physical abuse. It aims to mitigate recognized risks associated with physical abuse/violence while aiding families in recovering from the repercussions of exposure. The program provides parents and children with intrapersonal and interpersonal skills to improve self-control, foster positive family relations, and decrease violent behavior.
NJ4S Bergen services, whether from Tier 3, 2, or 1, are meant to complement, not replace, any existing services already available to Bergen County public school students. NJ4S Bergen fills in the gaps where specific services are not already accessible.
To access Tier 3 services, an application must be submitted by the school’s designated NJ4S representative. Once the application is submitted, NJ4S staff from the assigned Hub will meet with the school representative regarding the application and determine whether NJ4S services or a referral to a community resource can be provided.
To learn more about NJ4S Bergen, visit https://www.nj4sbergenhub.org or follow NJ4S Bergen on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more information on the NJ Statewide Student Support Services Network (NJ4S), visit https://nj4s.nj.gov/.