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Structured Psychotherapy

Structured psychotherapy is an approach to mental health intervention that is systematic, short-term and evidence-based. It can be provided to individual students or in small groups.

In 2019, School Mental Health Ontario began training school mental health professional to deliver structured psychotherapy within Ontario schools.

Who is school-based structured psychotherapy for?

The therapies provided through schools focus on prevention or early intervention and are for students with mild to moderate mental health problems, often anxiety or mood problems. School and board staff work with community and health partners to support students who require more intensive services.

Structured psychotherapy formats offered in Ontario schools

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a key part of most structured psychotherapy offered through Ontario schools. CBT addresses thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and their intersection. Some recommended interventions also include other evidence-based techniques, such as motivational interviewing.

School Mental Health Ontario supports the following structured psychotherapy formats, which fit within the school environment and have the potential to align across sectors, beyond education.

Student population:

Students who present mental health problems of mild to moderate severity.

Clinician:

School mental health professional regulated by a professional college

Format:

  • Individual or group format
  • 8-12 sessions
  • Focus on both cognitive and behavioural techniques

Student population:

Students who present mental health problems of mild to moderate severity.

Clinician:

School mental health professional regulated by a professional college

Format:

  • Individual format
  • 4 session triage model
  • CBT and motivational interviewing techniques

Student population:

Newcomer students with refugee backgrounds

Clinician:

School mental health professional regulated by a professional college

Format:

  • Group format
  • 1 individual session (trauma narrative)
  • 10 sessions

Student population:

Students at risk (no diagnosed mental health problems)

Clinician:

May be delivered by non-regulated professionals

Format:

  • Group format
  • 14-lesson program
  • Positive psychology, strength-based skills focus

Training for school mental health professionals

We offer training at various locations throughout the year. Please check our learning calendar.

Student population:

Students who present mental health problems of mild to moderate severity.

Clinician:

School mental health professional regulated by a professional college

Format:

  • Individual or group format
  • 8 sessions
  • Menu of core CBT elements
  • Standard evidence-based protocols

If you are aware of evidence-based, implementation-sensitive prevention or early intervention programming that fits within a structured psychotherapy model, please contact us with information. We’re testing a number of approaches in our Innovation and Scale Up Lab to enhance this suite of approaches and related training.

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