The School Refusal Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a psychiatric program that provides short-term stabilization for children aged 9 to 12 and adolescents aged 12 to 18 who are having trouble attending school. Many of these patients struggle with issues that manifest as school refusal behavior.
School refusal behaviors may include complaints of being ill with a stomach ache, a sore throat, or a headache upon waking up. These complaints usually resolve once the child/adolescent is allowed to remain at home, but may resurface the next morning. Children/adolescents may also avoid school by frequently requesting to visit the nurse’s office, showing up tardy to classes or not showing up at all, and by being absent on test days or for classes or events that may trigger performance anxiety, such as giving presentations or participating in sports or physical education classes. Other symptoms of school-avoidance include temper tantrums, crying spells, and panic attacks before, during, or related to school.
The hours of School Refusal PHP are from 9AM to 3PM, Monday to Thursday, and 9AM to 2:30PM on Friday, which allows your child/adolescent to maintain a normal school schedule. Our goal is to help patients return to the classroom by providing them with the strategies and the confidence needed to effectively deal with daily stressors.
Each child is closely monitored by a full-time child or adolescent psychiatrist, licensed group therapist, licensed individual therapist, as well as a full-time nurse. This highly-skilled, collaborative team ensures that treatment plans evolve with the needs of your child. Our on-site staff for both Chicago and Northbrook Compass Health Center locations includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, family therapists, nurses, and special-education teachers.
Individualized treatment plans addressing psychiatric symptoms and therapeutic goals are developed for each patient by Compass’ multidisciplinary team. Evidence-based therapies that are used to help children develop more effective coping skills include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and family therapy.
Families are required to participate in family therapy, as it greatly facilitates the child’s improvement. Research has shown that individuals whose families are involved in their therapeutic treatments have a better outcome and a higher success rate of establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. Every patient will also participate in individual therapy and in group therapy to help establish social interaction with other youths.
Treatment modalities offered in the School Refusal PHP may include:
- Psychiatric Assessment and Medication Management
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Art Therapy
- Yoga Therapy
- Pet Therapy
- Supervised study
To learn more about family therapy, visit WebMD.com.
These evidence-based treatments will empower your child with concrete new coping skills. Our goal is to help patients transition from a level of care and restore them to a level of functioning that allows them to return to their school and typical daily activities.
The School Refusal PHP also incorporates one and a half hours (for children) or two hours (for adolescents) of supervised study each day under the supervision and guidance of an education specialist and teacher’s assistants. Patients are expected to work quietly during this time to maintain a productive work environment.
Once a release of information for communication with the patient’s school has been established, the assigned Education Specialist will communicate with the school to develop a plan to receive and submit various homework and school assignments. This release will provide the school with your child’s educational and therapeutic progression.
When a student is ready to begin transitioning back to their school, the Education Specialist assigned to your child or adolescent will contact the school to set up a re-entry meeting. This meeting will take place at your child’s school. Whenever possible, the child’s assigned Education Specialist and/or a Compass Health Center therapist will participate in the meeting, either by phone or in-person. During the discussion, a plan will be developed to best support the student’s transition back to their school.
Compass Health Center staff will also communicate with outside providers to ensure a smooth transition for your child. The average length of stay in the School Refusal PHP is approximately 2 to 4 weeks. Due to individualized treatment plans, the length of School Refusal PHP may vary.
Next, learn about Compass’ Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).