Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Aaron Suomala Folkerds


special education, advocacy, Individualized Education Program, school based mental health


This literature review is an examination of effective strategies for clinical mental health counselors to participate within the special education process on behalf of their clients. Mental health disorders among children are on the rise (Osagiede et al., 2018). Within special education, schools are seeing more children requiring social/emotional and behavioral services. When a student is referred by either guardians or school staff for special education services, an initial evaluation is completed (Berger et al., 2022). This is often a cumbersome process that may be overwhelming and confusing for families to navigate (Hott et al., 2015) If a student qualifies for services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is written that includes the student’s diagnosis, services, accommodations/modifications, goals, and oftentimes an accompanying Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) or Positive Behavior Support Plan (PBSP) (Walker et al., 2016). The special education process is a unique opportunity for mental health counselors to serve as advocates for their clients and client’s guardians (Hott et al., 2015) Counselors have expertise about their clients' mental health, strengths, and barriers to success. They can also administer and interpret a variety of assessments (Scott & Cooper, 2017). These skills make mental health counselors allies to the special education process in schools.



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