If you’ve reached this page, it’s probably for one of two reasons:
You’re a mental health professional who works with teens and young adults, and you’ve asked me for more information about what I can offer to your clients,
You’re a mental health professional who works with teens and young adults, and someone gave you this link so you could see what I can offer your clients.
Either way, welcome! I hope that I’ll be able to help your clients – and you.
Many of us have had a client, patient, or student who struggles with issues outside our area of expertise. It’s causing them stress, but we’re not trained for the issues they’re having, and the solutions we have don’t seem to be helping.
As a college teacher, I have often struggled with how to help students who are dealing with issues beyond my training and experience – students with financial issues, medical problems, family difficulties, or other things that get in the way of their learning, but weren’t things I knew how to deal with. As an academic coach, however, I have the ability to refer my clients to other professionals who can handle the things I can’t.
I want to offer you some solutions for the clients you have who may be struggling with excessive stress, anxiety problems, depression, or other mental health disorders, but who also struggle with the academic demands of school. This struggle, unlike their diagnosis, may be caused by a simple and solvable problem: lack of skill sets for school success.
Research on Students and Mental Health
Students in middle school, high school, and college are developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues at alarmingly increasing rates. According to the Center for Collegiate Health at Penn State University, for example, as of 2015 the rate of students on college campuses who sought out counseling services increased at five to six times the enrollment rate. Campus counseling centers are overwhelmed with students presenting with stress, anxiety, and suicidal ideation – often due to the stressors that come with college and its expectations. According to this study, the main causes of stress and anxiety included the students’ academic workload, test anxiety, and grade anxiety.
In 2012, Mahmoud (et al) found younger students (ages 18 to 19) reported more depression than older students, and students who used maladaptive coping strategies (such as self-blame, denial, and giving up) were positively correlated with increasing levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Pedersen reported in 2012 that school stress also tends to “spill over” into other areas of life more frequently than other types of stress for college students, affecting sleep patterns and anxiety levels.
High-schoolers are not immune to these issues, either. A recent study by the New York University College of Nursing found nearly half of all high-school students interviewed reported feeling “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis. The American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America report finds that 27% of teens report high levels of stress during the school year, and that school is a significant or somewhat significant source of stress for 83% of all teens. Specific issues that caused stress included difficulty managing time (59% of respondents), procrastination and avoidance (29%), and difficulty concentrating (44%).
However, there is hope for these students. Various research has found when the causes of stress and anxiety were addressed with academic coaching and skills instruction, student anxiety and stress levels decreased.
Research as far back as 1988 shows studying for exams, the college workload, and grade worries increase student stress, and when students learn methods to deal directly with these issues such as time management and positive reappraisal, their stress goes down (Blake and Vandiver 1988; Mattlin, Wethington and Kessler 1990; Misra & McKean 2000). Research done in 2013 by Krumrei-Mancuso (et al) shows being able to handle stress and time pressures, being involved in college, and having emotional satisfaction with academics were positively correlated with life satisfaction for college students. Misra and McKean found control of time, knowing how to manage time, knowing how to set goals, and knowing how to keep organized were all correlated with a greater reduction in academic stress.
Many practitioners will recommend adaptive coping strategies such as social support groups, physical exercise and mindfulness meditation to students who are experiencing anxiety. However, Mahmoud et al found these strategies did not correlate with a decrease in levels of depression, anxiety, and stress for students. What does correlate is giving students the tools they need to succeed in school.
Helping Students Succeed
What I want to offer your clients who are in this group is a tool set. As an academic professional and an academic coach, I help students learn time management, disciplined study practices, effective study skills, good habit-formation, organization, and planning (among many other skills). If you will refer these clients to me, I will help them learn the tools they need to reduce their school stress.
When you refer a parent and their teen to me, here is what I will give them:
- A free 20-minute consultation with the parent
- A free one-hour consultation with the student
- One-on-one intensive, personal skills coaching
- Web-based training courses focusing on particular skills
- Accountability for the student
This also gives you some benefits, namely:
- Reduction of school-related stressors allows you to focus therapy sessions on the underlying clinical issues
- Cross-referrals: if I start working with a client and realize they need therapeutic help, I can refer them to you
- Collaboration: we can also compare our notes and keep each other updated on issues that show up in coaching or therapy sessions, especially if those issues are more related to the other person’s expertise, to further support the client.
As an Anti-Boring Approach™ Coach, I can offer your client a toolbox of skills, habits and accountability – which will make things less stressful for them. I’ve seen clients and students in these situations many times, and helped them overcome these hurdles.
What’s the Anti-Boring Approach™?
The Anti-Boring Approach™ was developed by Gretchen Wegner, M.Ed. It’s based on the most recent and up-to-date cognitive and neuropsychological research on how learning actually works. I’m fully trained in this academic coaching system, and I’ve used it to help many students not just survive, but thrive, in school. Anti-Boring Approach™ coaching helps your client build a toolbox of skills, habits, and goals to make their school experience have less stress and more success.
I’m also part of a network of Anti-Boring Approach™ coaches who specialize in different problems (students with ADHD, creative students, and nontraditional students being just three examples). My own niche is “gifted kids who are suddenly struggling,” as well as students on the autism spectrum, but I’ve also worked with many students who are just struggling because they need these skills. If your client has special needs and needs someone who works with those issues, I’ll reach out to my network and guide you to a coach who has the experience and training to work with your client.
Please Get in Touch!
If you’re interested in forming a referral partnership after reading this, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We can schedule a phone call to discuss what you might need from me, and I can send along some materials to make referral easier (brochures, business cards, etc.). You can also send parents to this link: http://www.undergradeasier.com/for-parents, if that’s easier for you and for them.
Thank you for taking the time to follow the link and read through to this point. I’m available at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, or to schedule time to talk. I look forward to hearing from you!
Adam G. Sanford, Ph.D.
Anti-Boring Approach™ Coach