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Caring for the Whole Person through The Power of Relationships

“We meet students where they are and consider the whole person.”

– Peter Myers, Psy.D., Co-Executive Director
Change and growth of the individual cannot be forced. But a skilled, caring guide who understands the child and knows how to work through various thoughts and emotional states can provide the best path to real progress and sustained growth.

The individual students — and what they need most — direct the interactions that take place, not any pre-determined program or strict behavior modification approach. With time, these interactions grow into close relationships with one or more staff members, giving each child at least one professional to turn to for any concern.

Within this approach, therapy takes place in scheduled sessions AND throughout the entire day, with every interaction between staff and peers an opportunity to grow and learn. Students at the School—and their wonderfully diverse mix of difficulties, strengths and accomplishments—learn new and different ways to experience their feelings, their relationships, and the world.

The ultimate goal of these continuous interactions is to build strong internal capacities within each student, rather than fostering superficial change.

A Relational Framework of Care

“For the majority of students who come through our Yellow Door, relationships remain the key.”

– Diana Kon, Ed.D., Co-Executive Director

The relationships between student and school staff are integral to the O-School’s formal method of academic and psychological care. Called ‘relational interventions,’ these interactions are based upon a framework of human development that is informed by:

Trauma informed practices, which recognize the negative impact trauma has on all areas of development. Because problematic behavior may be the result of trauma, these practices seek to avoid re-traumatization.

Psychodynamic principles, which are based on the idea that the personality of a person is rooted in early childhood experiences. This approach views outward behavior as a manifestation of internal psychological conflicts.

Family systems theories, which focus on the communication, interaction patterns, and problem solving of the entire family network — including immediate family members and preceding generations. Instead of exclusively targeting change within the individual, the effort is placed on changing family functioning and interpersonal dynamics.

Cultural competency, which requires understanding and appropriately responding to the unique combination of cultural variables that the professional and the student and family bring to interactions, including ability, age, beliefs, ethnicity, experience, gender, gender identity, linguistic background, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.