A new program at Onalaska High School is helping school counselors to better serve students.

The Student Assistance Program was started to provide counselors with a referral service for students who need additional counseling assistance, said Beth Gamoke, school counselor.

Like a traditional employee assistance program, students are able to meet with a counselor from Stein Counseling and Consulting for three to five sessions at the high school as they work to develop a long-term plan, Gamoke said. There is no charge to the student or their family for the initial sessions.

“We are happy to be able to offer this to our students,” Gamoke said. “We saw so many students with needs that were beyond what a school counselor can assist with based on our training and time. This is something else we can do where barriers such as transportation, funding and stigma are removed.”

The Partnership with Stein Counseling and Consulting started during the 2011-12 school year and continues this year with a counselor making weekly visits to the high school.

“The Onalaska School District works diligently to ensure not only student academic success but development of the whole person,” said Ted Stein, President Stein Counseling and Consulting. “As such, we became involved to assist with identifying and addressing mental health barriers or other obstacles that students face by providing a safe haven for students to talk about issues and develop solutions.”

The SAP served nine students from February 2012 to the end of the school year with one client continuing services after SAP.

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