Schools Fall Short: Lack of Therapeutic Continuum of Care in Public Schools


  • Katherine De Vito Rutgers University


attachment theory, School Social Work, school-based counseling, Attachment Theory, insecure attachment, Disruption in Therapeutic Services, behavioral disabilities, special education, affect regulation, solution-focused therapy, disrupted therapeutic care, therapeutic alliance, gangs, summer break


Public schools usually provide mental health counseling as a service during the school year. However, most do not provide counseling throughout school breaks. The risks from interrupted care may become more evident when summer break arrives. This may pose great risk for students, especially those with a history of attachment difficulties, who may decompensate over the lengthy summer break without consistent therapeutic support. This paper discusses school-based counseling, its effectiveness, and what happens when counseling services are disrupted, especially in the case of a student with attachment issues. I will use a case study to illustrate the decompensation of one student over the summer break and why it is vital that public schools offer continued mental health counseling throughout the summer months.

Author Biography

Katherine De Vito, Rutgers University

Katherine De Vito, LCSW, received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Journalism/Mass Media from Rutgers University. She had a career as an editor in magazine and children’s book publishing prior to entering the field of Social Work. She then received her Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work. Katherine has worked as a School Social Worker for the past ten years at Rahway Board of Education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Currently she is a Child Study Team social worker working for the RahwayPublic Schools arranging and providing training for staff and students, crisis intervention, case management services to special education students, counseling to both general and special education students, and working closely with parents and staff. She also is the advisor of the student newspaper, The Academy Times. Prior to her work at the Rahway Board of Education, Katherine worked at the Mental Health Association in Essex County providing needs assessments, individual counseling for children, adolescents, and their families, as well as individual and group school-based counseling at elementary and middle schools in Montclair. She also provided group counseling at schools in Newark and East Orange. Her interests include interventions in schools for students who self-harm and gang prevention/intervention.




How to Cite

De Vito, K. (2018). Schools Fall Short: Lack of Therapeutic Continuum of Care in Public Schools. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 23(4), 4–19. Retrieved from