Social/Emotional Skills & Mental Health Support
A happy, healthy student is a student who is better prepared to learn, grow and thrive both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. This is exactly why our elementary school, middle school and high school curricula and programming incorporate social/emotional skill-building and individual efficacy, along with mental health support thanks to our team of licensed psychologists and therapists.
The leading Science and Souls Behind our Multi-Disciplinary Approach
Partnerships with Leading Practitioners & Organizations
Our faculty, students and families benefit greatly from our strategic partnerships with many of the city and country's leading therapeutic organizations and practitioners.
- Houston Galveston Institute trains our staff and provides mental health support to our students and their families and many of our staff therapists are HGI team members, as well.
- Through our partnership with Our Lady of the Lake University, many of its Master's level candidates provide therapy services to our students as they pursue their LMFT, LPC and/or School Psychology licensure. AND we've been lucky enough to retain many of these therapist as part- or full-time members of our team once they complete their clinical hours.
- Our on-site therapists bring their individual experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, mindfulness-based approaches, Marriage & Family Therapy and countless additional modalities to our campuses. We benefit from their continued studies (including many who are working with our students as they complete their dissertations) and their various specialties including anxiety, depression, child and adolescent therapy, baking therapy, suicide prevention and more.
- We also extend this support to our greater community. Through our partnership with Menninger Clinic, many of our teachers visit its in-patient clients to ensure they continue to achieve academically while being treated for various mental health needs.
Our faculty and our community at large is deeply invested in the whole of each student who calls Xavier home. We recognize that more and more children and teenagers live with mental health diagnoses or learning differences including but not limited to ADHD, anxiety, depression, mood disorders and more.
We also recognize that the best way for every child or teenager to excel academically begins with growing socially and emotionally. As such, we attend to our students' needs and circumstances, providing them with individual mental health support or therapy sessions on an ongoing or as-needed basis to ensure that when they enter the classroom, they are prepared to learn.
A child or teenager who is able to manage their anxiety, depression or overwhelm will certainly be more capable of digesting a rigorous curriculum and advancing in their educational pursuits. We tend to our students' emotional and social needs with as much energy and passion as our educational faculty do to their educational aspirations.
And, our Xavier families take part in the process so the work our students achieve on our campuses doesn't start and end with us.
Mindful Self-Compassion Groups
Dr. Melanie Gregg recently launched "Making Friends with Yourself (MFY): Mindful Self-Compassion" with our students. This empirically-supported, eight-week skill-building course was designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion in teens. MFY teaches core principles and practices that enable teens to respond to the challenges of these critical years with kindness and self-compassion.
Throughout the course, which meets weekly for 1.75 hours, teens engage in developmentally appropriate activities and carefully crafted practices and meditations, which provide them with the opportunity to learn how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life with greater ease.
Following in the footsteps of the adult MSC program, MFY is rooted in the three key components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindful, balanced awareness. These elements serve to open the hearts of teens to their own suffering, so they can learn to give themselves what they truly need, recognize that they are not alone in their suffering, and encourage an open-minded acceptance of the struggle they are facing.
Learn more about Dr. Gregg's Mindfulness Self-Compassion work that many of our Xavier students benefit from here.
Baking & Culinary Therapy
Josie Paul not only built and oversees our Counseling and Mental Health department at Xavier, but she is actively completing her dissertation as a PhD student in Social Health Sciences at Vrije Universiteit, Brussels. Our students are thoroughly enjoying taking part in her doctoral research which investigates how psychotherapy, in a culinary setting, co-creates a collaborative-dialogic space that enriches the identity stories of adolescents who struggle with anxiety.
More specifically, her goal is to gain insight into the experience and meaning of participating in collaborative-dialogic practices in a culinary setting and to explore the identity stories of adolescents who have been formally diagnosed or who self-identify as anxious, from the adolescent’s perspective.
Baking has proven to be a wonderfully therapeutic and enjoyable addition to our students' academic weeks and we look forward to learning the results from her research...and continuing to bring practices like baking therapy to our students moving forward.
Arrowsmith Program & Neurofeedback
While our students and families benefit from talk therapy, we embrace newer technologies and advancements in the psychological field. Through our partnership with the Barbara Arrowsmith Program, our students' brains and coping mechanisms have literally changed (and improved) before our eyes.
Similarly, many of our students benefit from the empirically-validated work of neurofeedback. Together, these therapeutic modalities enhance brain neuroplasticity, or the "ability of the brain to physically change in response to stimuli and activity by developing new neuronal/synaptic interconnections believed to be the physical substrate underlying learning."
As one of two Arrowsmith participating sites in the state of Texas and only 30 or so in the United States, our students (and their families) and on-site staff facilitators revel in the opportunity to experience the benefits of their brains' changing before their very eyes. They gain an appreciation and recognition that through this work, they do, in fact, have the capacity to learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally. They often find that they can live in harmony with their learning differences or mental health diagnoses.
Brain Co Pilot Study
Xavier administrators, mental health practitioners, faculty, students and families welcome the opportunity to support and participate in leading psycho-social research and experiences. One such example is our recent foray into a pilot study with Brain Co and the Harvard Innovation Lab thanks to leadership from past Xavier parent, neurodiversity specialist and founder of For All Abilities, Betsy Furler.
With 15 students currently enrolled in the eight-week study and room for five more to join the group, Betsy and Brain Co's work is intended to provide scientifically-validated support for the company's neurofeedback headband in an educational setting.
Students participate in the study by participating in Daily Challenges via the FocusCalm app for ten minutes at a time, five days a week (from campus), while wearing a headband featuring three electrodes which measures brain waves throughout the students' game time.
The app will include Relaxation (guided audio content from experts), Neurofeedback (to promote calm and relaxed mental states) and Cognitive training tasks.
These brain waves measure, and over time, train the brain to transition from an overly-stimulated or excited state to a relaxed one. Patients and students who have taken part in similar studies, or in similar neurofeedback sessions at Xavier, report that they gain a better understanding of how to slow their brains down, how to cope with stress and anxiety and how to self-regulate.
Should your Xavier student be interested in joining the pilot study, contact Betsy here.
Find the Consent form to begin the participation process below.