Our mission is to teach, coach and support staff to create a culture and climate of mental wellness where everyone achieves.
Our vision is to strengthen all schools, staff and students through mental wellness education and training to transform lives.
Certification is a voluntary process, that shows an individual has achieved competency in a specific skill or specialty in a particular field. This is usually overseen by a professional 3rd party or board. Certification is granted once the individual has completed a comprehensive frame of study and achieved a passing score on a psychometrically sound certification exam.
The fundamental difference between certification and licensure is that certification is granted by a professional organization and licensure is granted by a government or government agency.
Thrive originated from the extensive clinical and educational services provided in a group of private therapeutic day schools, led by John Reilly and Chris Leonard, which have served students with emotional difficulties for over 20 years. In 2008, Patricia Hovey and John Reilly brought a clinician to a public school setting, to support the students and staff after a tragedy occurred on campus. Board Chair, Jon Brandt, has created a nationally recognized certification and accreditation for healthcare workers and he brings his expertise to Thrive. In concert with our founding members, our board oversees program expectations and determines compliance with the criteria set forth for schools and districts to be certified and accredited.
The certifications offered are:
- Certified Mental-Wellness Specialist (for Child Study Team members, School Clinicians, Counselors/Psychologists/Social Workers)
- Certified Mental-Wellness Educator (for Teachers)
- Certified Mental-Wellness Administrator (for Admin staff)
- A comprehensive understanding of mental health
- Ability to recognize moderate to more serious issues
- Interventions to support mental wellness
- Knowledge of early intervention strategies
- Mental Health Expert available for consultation
- Enhancement of skill set and further application of learned material
- Knowledge and sharing of best practices
- Increased sense of efficacy and empowerment
- Significantly reduced risk of burnout
The certification process requires completion of a training program that enables school staff to increase their knowledge base regarding proactive mental wellness. The program consists of a blended learning format combining online training modules with live coaching sessions followed by an exam.
The training program is flexible. It could take about 3-6 months but is self-paced. All participants receive an hour of coaching weekly for a year.
Coaching sessions are led by a mental wellness coach and conducted within a cohort of up to 5 school personnel (all within one district or can be a combination of participating districts) and held weekly. The members of the cohort are involved in scenario-based learning experiences based on common situations experienced by school personnel. Role playing using best practice principles prepares school personnel to proactively address various mental wellness issues. Participants are encouraged to bring current challenges to the table to receive feedback and to identify and implement timely interventions. During coaching sessions, participants review the information provided during the modules and investigate the application of the skills set forth in the training.
No. Certification is not state mandated. However, being certified by a third-party organization shows that the school district has made a sustained commitment to proactive mental wellness.
Accreditation is a formal independent 3rd party approval process which verifies that an institution meets established quality standards and adheres to specific criteria that may include:
- Minimum education requirements (e.g., bachelor’s degree, work experience in school setting)
- Passing of comprehensive exam
- Maintaining individual certifications through continuing education
- Participating in yearly webinars and broadcasts and participating in online forum
- Completion of yearly benchmarks
The Thrive Alliance Group Accreditation Board oversees this process and works with schools to maintain this status.
In order to receive and maintain Thrive Alliance Group (TAG) accreditation, which is subject to approval by the TAG accreditation board, a school or school district must commit to the following benchmarks:
- Certification of a group of staff (at least 5 staff members)
- A commitment to continuing mental health education, and professional development programs throughout the year for staff
- A commitment to creating a school TAG mental-wellness committee and meeting notes reflecting 5 meetings per year
- Yearly goals and objectives for student and staff initiatives centered around mental wellness
- A commitment to offering community based TAG mental wellness education programs and workshops to parents and students
The cost of the program is determined by the number of staff participating. Typically, year 1 program costs range from $30,000-60,000. Please contact us for more information.
Programs can be customized and flexible to meet the individual needs of the school or school district. Thrive understands the importance of commitment to the mental wellness of students and staff, and as a result, we do our best to accommodate school budgets. We assist in consultation for funding opportunities to find creative solutions and work with grant writers to find opportunities to help interested parties.
After the first year, the school or school district must maintain its commitment to proactive mental wellness through the following avenues:
- Select new staff members to go through certification (new cohort)
- Comparable cost to first year
- Maintain certification of current certified staff through completion of additional training modules (2-3) and monthly coaching sessions
- Assess progress on school mental wellness goals and adjust or update goals to respond appropriately to the current needs of students, families and staff
Coaches are master’s level mental health experts who have extensive knowledge of clinical modalities as well as knowledge of the educational setting. Coaches have either served in schools at the counseling, teaching and/or administrative level or have a demonstrated track record of effective practice with school-based mental health intervention.
Cohorts consist of up to 5 professionals per cohort. Often districts engage in training of multiple cohorts determined by grade level or per building, to get more staff trained and supported.
Across the country certifications are available for: Child Study Team members, School Clinicians, Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, LDTC, BCBA, ABA Therapists, Teachers (General Education and Special Education) and Administration.
The school mental wellness committee should include representative stakeholders in the school community. It will generally have: an administrator, a mental health professional, a teacher, a parent, a student and any staff currently enrolled in the certification process.
Participants will complete a pre-test and post-test to determine progress within the program. The post test will measure an individual’s improved understanding of how to effectively address mental wellness and the improvement of the school culture and climate. Intermittent progress will be captured through coaching sessions with a strong emphasis on frequent individual feedback.
When a clinician is embedded in a school district, measures of progress are based on student progress as well as the satisfaction of the partner district. Measures of student progress include better grades, decreased discipline interventions, and increased attendance. Satisfaction of the district is measured through narratives, letters of recommendation, increased participation of Thrive in delivery of professional development and in IEP, 504 and Intervention meetings.
In Both Programs
Partner districts, through instituting either of these programs, will realize cost savings through the ability to keep students in their home schools. Students will experience the milieu of a district that places importance on mental wellness and take advantage of a comprehensive school system.
Proactive mental wellness is education. It is about educating school-aged children as young as Pre-K and kindergarten how to express their feelings, to be aware of what their body is telling them and how to respond or cope in effective ways. The earlier we intervene and put the proper supports in place, the more effective we will be in proactively addressing mental health issues and potentially preventing them from disrupting wellness and education.
We have a number of urgent Issues at our school. How can we put out fires while trying to create a proactive culture at the same time? How does your organization help us with that?
When you participate in our certification program you also gain access to a Thrive mental health expert to assist in triage situations. He or she will train your staff on relevant mental health topics to ensure their interventions are effective. The mental health expert is available to coach staff through crisis situations, provide consultation during a risk assessment and provide guidance when implementing a safety plan. While this intervention is taking place, our organization is constantly learning and assessing what can be done to assist the district to ensure we are providing the most relevant professional development to staff, parent workshops and feedback in coaching sessions.
When a certified staff member leaves the district, that person takes their certification with them. However, the district will be able to obtain certification for their replacement in the program at a discounted rate and will be added to an existing cohort at the district or another district depending on the timing during the SY.
Mental health issues are extremely complex, and we just don’t have the time or bandwidth to deal with them effectively. I know there are programs that place mental health counselors in schools. Why wouldn’t we just bring in experts to manage these issues for us?
Statistics indicate that 1 in 5 students will struggle with a diagnosable mental health issue. This means that in a classroom of 20 students, 4 are likely struggling with a significant mental health challenge. And the number of students with challenges has only increased during the pandemic. Many of these programs set caps on the number of students served and provide interns or counselors with only entry-level experience and no prior school experience. Some programs emphasize a check-in structure for students that provides consistent support but does not support students in developing skills or in learning how to self-advocate for support in post-secondary and workplace settings. Community-based mental health centers will emphasize their connections to hospitals and screening services. What none of these programs do, is what TAG does:
- Helps your staff learn and implement best practices in prevention
- Increases the capacity of your school staff to work with students with mental health challenges on a daily basis
- Increases the capacity of students and families to adjust to the realities of day-to-day life rather than rely on supplemental supports that have been created for them and are not available in typical postsecondary or workplace settings.