Drugs of Addiction Webinar: What Educators Need to Know

This special seminar presented by Nancy E. Pommerening, OCPS and Director: Drug Awareness and Prevention Inc. provides an overview of marijuana, its dangers, and how youth attitudes towards it have changed. In addition, we will examine other illicit drugs, the process of addiction, and possible solutions to the opiate crisis and other substances of abuse.


-The participant will understand current rates of usage and levels of marijuana potency in northeast Ohio.
-The participant will understand the process of addiction, and who is most at risk for the disease.
-The participant will be able to list 3 prevention strategies for your students that reduce substance abuse.

Register by Clicking Here

Myths About Online Therapy: BUSTED!!

PSI discusses Myths about Online Therapy!

Myth #1: Telepractice is an inferior therapy model and not face-to-face.
vpsi1Reality: VirtualPSI is a face-to-face service delivery model accomplished electronically. Students engage in real-time, state-of-the-art digital platform with a trained, state and nationally certified professional. Studies have shown that telepractice outcomes match, and at times, exceed traditional therapy models

Myth #2: Students have a difficult time engaging in telepractice because the technology is complicated and cumbersome.
vpsi2Reality: Today’s students are considered “digital natives” and have been exposed to technology since birth. VirtualPSI’s digital platform provides a dynamic, yet uncomplicated electronic environment to achieve their goals.

Myth #3: Online services limit interactions with other staff members.
Reality: VirtualPSI’s digital platform provides the optimal environment for teacher collaboration and open communication with the special education team. With the click of a button, our staff professional can participate in meetings, attend parent conferences, collaborate with building staff members and administrators, and contribute necessary information, as needed. Participation is seamless, timely and effective.vpsi3

Myth #4: Telepractice is electronically unsafe.
Reality: VirtualPSI uses a state-of-the-art encrypted platform that adheres to HIPAA guidelines. Additionally, VirtualPSI’s licensed professionals are held to the same standards and code of ethics of service delivery as when services are delivered in person.

vpsi4What should you do next?   For more information or a VirtualPSI demo call 800.841.4774 ext 257 or e-mail christineworthington@psi-solutions.org.

Learn more by clicking here.


Did you miss the free webinar on…

Did you miss the free webinar on “What educators and parents need to know about the Netflix Series, 13 Reasons Why”? Click here for a listing of all of our free webinars that you can watch.

PSI Expert recently presented at the ISCA Conference in Prague, Czech Republic


Scott Poland an Expert Partner of PSI Recently Presented at the International School Counseling Association Conference (ISCA) in Prague, Czech Republic

The ISCA conference was held March 9 to 11, 2017 in the Czech Republic and was attended by over 130 counselors from 45 different countries. The counselors in attendance represented 80 different international schools. Dr. Poland provided two keynote addresses with the first one entitled, School Counselors Making a Difference in Crisis Intervention. His second keynote was entitled, Youth Suicide: The Critical Role of School Counselors in Prevention, Intervention and Postvention. Dr. Poland also provided three workshops entitled Non-Suicidal Self Injury: Critical Issues for School Counselors, Safeguarding Children in a Challenging World: A Presentation by Counselors for Parents and Contemporary Issues in School Crisis.

To learn more about PSI services contact us at 1-800-841-4774 or contact us at info@psi-solutions.org.



Watch PSI Expert Dr. Scott Poland assisting in Colorado with Suicide Tragedies

In late 2016, in the wake of more tragedies and more teen suicides in Academy School District 20 in Pueblo, CO, News5 interviewed PSI Expert, Dr. Scott Poland with the goal to put a stop to teen suicide in their community.

Dr. Scott Poland, a licensed psychologist who is internationally recognized as an expert on youth suicide is one of the national experts D-20 is working with as they deal proactively with this crisis.  Our thoughts go out to this community.  Watch two videos with Dr. Scott Poland covered by KOAA in Colorado.

KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo




Dec16_SocialWe at the PSI management level are SO proud of the work you are doing in your schools and communities. We also feel there are many unsung HEROES out there and would like to feature them via the various PSI social media connections. If you’re interested and want to highlight what you or a co-worker is doing, please sign on to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and liking, following, or re-tweeting our posts.

Comments and replies to our posts are just as important. After a presentation or event, posting a few words or review will go a long way. If we feature an interesting article, “this is a very interesting read!” will do the trick.  If you feel a friend of yours would like one of our posts, you can share the article through Facebook.

Find us HERE:


Implementing Direct Instruction in Today’s Classroom

PSI employees were energized again in an afternoon session led by PSI Fall Meeting keynote speaker William J. DeMeo. This time, DeMeo presented on differentiating instruction in the classroom.

Leading off with an engaging introduction video, participants were left with some mportant messages, including the need to look beyond classroom walls to see what awaits our students and that teachers need to be the innovator, motivator, and facilitator of learning.

Dec16_DirectInstructAttendees then participated in activities lead by DeMeo, including active learning activities like think-pair-share discussion and silent partner writing. With think-pair-share, learners are able to think for themselves, share their ideas with a partner, and ultimately discuss with the entire group. Silent partner writing involves writing down thoughts and questions about a picture, quotation, or discussion question. Partners pass the paper they write on back and forth and engage in a conversation without using spoken words.

DeMeo also stressed the importance of flexible grouping in the classroom. Flexible grouping allows teachers to group their students by three group types: flexible, which includes readiness and learning style; ability/aptitude groups; and cooperative groups. Flexible groupings can be done with the whole class or just half of the class, in teams, in student-led small groups, and with partners.

As with many activities in the classroom, some students will finish their work ahead of their peers. The same can hold true with flexible groupings, and DeMeo says that teachers can provide anch
or activities an learning stations for students to complete when the assigned task is complete. Anchor activities provide meaningful work for students when they are finished with an assigned task or when they are stumped and waiting for teacher assistance. Anchor activities also provide ongoing tasks that tie to content and instruction. Some examples of anchor activities include investigations, vocabulary work, magazine articles with generic questions, journals and learning logs, silent reading, activity boxes, and learning packets.

While DeMeo left participants with a variety of classroom activities to try out with their students, he also asked them why differentiate? He discussed with participants that the student population is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and that families have also changed over time. Passive learning, like lectures, reading, and even audiovisual are not as effective with today’s students. The current student population learns best by teaching others and using their learning immediately, practicing by doing, and having group discussions.

Individualizing student instruction will allow students to reach their full potential. DeMeo left participants with a question to ponder: Will one size fits all curriculum be effective (if it ever was)?


NASP Guidance for Reinforcing Safe, Supportive and Positive School Environments for All Students

The 2016 election has been long and fraught with strong emotions. As a nation, we have much to do to heal the divisiveness that has resulted.

As parents, caregivers, and educators, we have a critical responsibility to Dec16_NASPguidehelp children and youth feel safe and secure and learn how to engage with others of differing viewpoints in a peaceful, tolerant, and respectful manner

As always, schools play a critical role in this process by creating a positive learning environment for all students. It is imperative that educators facilitate respectful discussions among students and safeguard the well-being of those who may feel at risk. Below are recommendations for how adults can support children and youth in the days and months ahead.

Reinforce a sense of positive school community. Establishing positive relationships between adults and students is foundational to safe, successful learning environments. Such relationships are built on a sense of mutual trust and respect. Maintain culturally and linguistically responsive practices and ensure that students and their families feel connected and engaged. We function as a nation only when we have that shared sense of relationship; helping children identify and develop those relationships is vital.

Model and teach desired behaviors. We know that adult actions and attitudes influence children. Adults can help children and youth manage their reactions to events in the news and their communities by understanding their feelings, modeling healthy coping strategies, and closely monitoring their own emotional states and that of those in their care. Identifying and redirecting negative thoughts and feelings can help to teach children social–emotional skills and problem solving.

Reassure children that they are and will be okay. Many children and youth are aware of the intensity of this election, and some may feel at risk. It is important to reinforce strategies to ensure both physical and psychological safety. Remind adults and students of the importance of supporting each other during difficult times and acknowledge people will have a variety of emotions. If students feel physically or psychologically unsafe, they need to know how to report incidences, and trust that adults will be there to validate and respond to their concerns.

Help children manage strong emotions. For many children, the intense discussions, media images, and messages that they were exposed to during the election can trigger a range of strong emotions. Some children may experience anger or stress. Others may feel a sense of excitement and hope. Children’s emotions often spill over into schools. Help children understand the range of emotions that they are feeling and to learn to express them in appropriate and respectful ways. For children experiencing stress, we can help by spending time with them, encouraging them to talk about their feelings, maintaining a sense of normalcy in their schedules and activities, and providing coping strategies.

Reinforce acceptance and appreciation for diversity as critical American values. Acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their personal opinions but that hateful or intolerant comments about others’ cultures, sexual orientations, religions, or races—or any other comments that are meant to hurt or make another feel threatened, unsafe, or unwelcome—will not be tolerated.

Stop any type of harassment or bullying immediately. Make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable. Talk to the children involved about the reasons for their behavior. Offer alternative methods of expressing their anger, confusion, or insecurity, and provide supports for those who are subject to bullying. School staff can encourage students to continue to be respectful of others.

Help children see other perspectives and value respectful dialogue. Sharing our different points of view and working to find common ground, shared goals, and mutual understanding is the best way to draw strength from our diversity. The very nature of civil disagreement is to acknowledge respectfully the views and experiences of other people and learn from differing perspectives.

Adults can start by reflecting on their own experiences and how these shape their interactions and reactions. They can help children to do the same and ask questions of each other, rather than hurl accusations. Adults can create safe spaces for youth to share their feelings and concerns while also exploring how they might feel and act if they were in someone else’s shoes. Help students see how words matter, as does how we use them. Teach them to avoid stigmatizing statements and to state their thoughts with opening phrases like, “I believe” or “Have you thought about” instead of “Anybody who” or “No one should.”

Discuss the importance of respecting our democratic process. Despite the divisive nature of the election, Americans voted all across the country in a peaceful and respectful manner. Our system of government is based on the same peaceful and orderly transfer of power in January. Millions of Americans exercised their right to vote and the system is responding accordingly. This is the underpinning of democracy. Highlight how important it is that all citizens engage in the democratic process, not just during a presidential election, but all of the time and at all levels of government. Discourage students from seeing the election in terms of winners and losers but rather the need to focus on common goals such as creating a strong economy for everyone and finding a path to move forward as one country.

Encourage children to channel their views and feelings into positive action. We are all part of the American community and can make positive contributions. Like adults, children and youth are empowered by the ability to do the right thing and help others. Working with classmates or members of the community who come from different backgrounds not only enables children to feel that they are making a positive contribution, it also reinforces their sense of commonality with diverse people.

For additional information and resources to help support children and youth, visit www.nasponline.org.

How a Meditation Practice Can Help Kids Become Less Anxious

The Power of Mindfulness

paradigmoct16_art2By now there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “mindfulness.” It seems to be everywhere—touted as the new yoga, the answer to stress, the alternative to Xanax. But beyond the buzz, what is it? Jon Kabat-Zinn, the scientist and widely recognized father of contemporary, medically based mindfulness—over 30 years ago he developed a therapeutic meditation practice known as Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—defines mindfulness simply as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

That’s the short version. To expand on that just a little, mindfulness is a meditation practice that begins with paying attention to breathing in order to focus on the here and now—not what might have been or what you’re worried could be. The ultimate goal is to give you enough distance from disturbing thoughts and emotions to be able to observe them without immediately reacting to them.

In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.

But how do you explain mindfulness to a five year-old? When she’s teaching mindfulness to children, Dr. Amy Saltzman, a holistic physician and mindfulness coach in Menlo Park, California, prefers not to define the word but rather to invite the child to feel the experience first—to find their “still, quiet place.”

Choosing behaviors

We begin by paying attention to breath.

“We begin by paying attention to breath,” she says. “The feeling of the expansion of the in-breath, the stillness between the in-breath and the out-breath. I invite them to rest in the space between the breaths. Then I explain that this still quiet place is always with us—when we’re sad, when we’re angry, excited, happy, frustrated. They can feel it in their bodies. And it becomes a felt experience of awareness. They can learn to observe their thoughts and feelings, and the biggest thing for me is they can begin to choose their behaviors.”

In her private practice, Saltzman, and her Still Quiet Place CDs for Young Children and Teens, teaches mindfulness to children and adolescents with a variety of challenges. “I work with kids individually with ADHD, with anxiety, depression, autism, anger management issues. The lovely thing about working one-on-one is you get to tailor what you offer to them.”

Saltzman also conducted a study in conjunction with researchers at Stanford University showing that after 8 weeks of mindfulness training, the fourth through sixth graders in the study had documented decreases in anxiety, and improvements in attention. They were less emotionally reactive and more able to handle daily challenges and choose their behavior.

Related: Mindfulness in the Classroom

As a teacher at The Nantucket New School where every student gets instruction in mindfulness, Allison Johnson has learned first hand what a difference it can make for kids. So she tried it at home. “I have a six-year-old son with ADHD,” she says. “I brought a chime home. We use it most nights before bed. ‘Cause he doesn’t love going to sleep. We sit on the floor facing each other, we close our eyes and we ring the chime. Sometimes we incorporate a visualization—like he’s floating on a cloud. We go on this little journey. And we ring the chime again and we say ‘when you can no longer hear the chime it’s time to open your eyes and come back to focus.’ And now if he gets in trouble and gets sent to his room, I can hear him upstairs doing it himself. Or when he’s getting unusually rowdy he’ll say ‘okay lets do our mindful breathing now.’” Johnson says since Curren started practicing mindfulness she’s seen subtle but noticeable differences in his behavior. “He’s more able to bring his focus and attention back to where they were—remembering to raise his hand and not move around so much.”

Mindfulness and teenagers

While the research on children and adolescents is really just beginning to gain real traction, there are several small studies showing that for kids who suffer from anxiety and ADHD, mindfulness can be especially helpful. Diana Winston, author of Wide Awake and the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awarene
ss Research Center, started taking teens with ADHD on retreats for what she calls “mindfulness intensive camp” back in 1993. Twenty years later the program is still going strong.

Get our email?Join our list and be among the first to know when we publish new articles. Get useful news and insights right in your inbox. “Teens benefit tremendously,” she says. “Kids talk about their lives being transformed. I remember one girl with ADD who’d been very depressed and I didn’t think we were reaching her. On the last day of class she came in and said, ‘everything is different. I was really depressed. My boyfriend broke up with me and it’s been so hard but I’m finally understanding that I’m not my thoughts.’ That concept is huge—the non-identifying with the negative thoughts and having a little more space and freedom in the midst of it.”

Stress reduction and self-acceptance are two of the major perks of mindfulness, benefits Winston says are particularly important during the drama and turmoil-filled teen years. “Emotional regulation, learning how to quiet one’s mind—those are invaluable skills.”

Managing anxiety

Randye Semple, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, has spent her career developing programs to teach anxious kids how to quiet their minds. “When I look at childhood anxiety I see an enormous problem and a precursor to other problems in adolescents and adults,” she says. “So I figured if we could manage the anxiety we could head off a lot of the other problems.” Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Anxious Children, the book she co-authored, is based on the program she developed. A study she and her co-author, clinical psychologist Jennifer Lee, conducted from 2000-2003 showed significant reductions in both anxiety and behavior problems in 8- to 12-year-olds in Harlem and Spanish Harlem who participated in the program.

Teaching mindfulness to children and adolescents is a growing trend—in private practices as part of therapy and increasingly as part of the curriculum in both Special Ed and General Ed classes throughout the country. “We’re at the beginning of a movement,” says Megan Cowan, co-founder and executive director of prog
rams at Mindful Schools in Oakland, California. “Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work really set the stage for mindfulness to be visible on a mainstream landscape. I think we all have the sense that society’s a little out of control. Education is a little out of control. We’re all looking for a way tochange that. This is meaningful to almost everybody.”

Juliann Garey is a journalist, novelist and clinical assistant professor at NYU. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Marie Claire; her novel, Too Bright To Hear Too Loud To See, was an American Library Association award-winner and NPR Best Book of the Year in 2013.


Not Quite Burnt But Crispy Around the Edges

dr-william-demeoMindfulness & how it affects us and what we can do about it was the topic given by (“Dr. Bill”) at PSI’s Fall 2016 Conference at the Crowne Plaza in Independence, Ohio.   Without doubt, it seems the five-letter word everyone dreads most every day is stress. Using slides, video, numerous skits and literally working the room, Dr. Bill made the three-hour presentation consistently interesting, fun and a sharing group experience that united the large audience. Learning is easy when you laugh along the way!

About Dr. DeMeo

Dr. DeMeo, a neuropsychologist, said that about a fourth of all employees view their jobs as the number one stressor. It heads the list that includes fear of sickness, paying bills and keeping the car running. With the current national focus on obesity he added, “there’s a strong connection between weight gain and stress.” Each day we face 50-70 stressors with little or no idea how to handle them effectively. A chemical in the brain called cortisol gets released which increases blood pressure and can adversely affect the immune system.


The Presentation

Throughout the presentation, Dr. Bill had the audience form groups of two and three to interact with each another. In one, they would exchange how they handle stress. In another, a partner would tell two truths and one lie and ask the others which was which. With a third, each would show three things done over the weekend without speaking. There were seven skits in all, furnishing great fun, relaxation and acuity. This presentation had no dull moments!

Motivation is a key to avoiding stress.

To wit, if you can wake up to go to work most mornings without the alarm clock, things may well look good. Involvement can translate into commitment. On the flipside, Dr. DeMeo’s view is that “we in education are burning ourselves out.” Anxiety can lead to procrastination, which in turn can lead to a sense of hopelessness and depression. Stress morphs into distress.

As a neuropsychologist, Dr. DeMeo discussed the impact of stress on the brain and cardiovascular system. Neurons can cease to fire, with the heart rate speeding up. Smoking gets seen as a stress reducer. Research is showing many aging-related diseases are linked, even the yellow bands of DNA (telomeres). “We can create our own stress just by thinking!”

What to do?

Start with getting enough sleep at night, eight to ten hours. Exercise at least three times a week, each thirty minutes minimum. Maintain solid social support with those you trust. Avoid negative people who typically have glib solutions to everything. Finally, a positive mindset can be your driving force, for human resilience is a bellwether.  Mindfulness is key to managing stress.

Celebrate what you do right rather than be critical of what might be wrong. Everyone has a unique combination of strengths that can be built upon as a foundation to protect against the storms.

A growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset is what’s needed. List five strengths as your building blocks, along with the strengths you most admire in others. Pose the question: “Is what I’m about to do a reflection of who I am and who I want to be?” The answer can be the ultimate game changer.

Dr. Bill said that talking about yourself is a great way to reduce stress. In parallel, thinking positively about yourself can be just as good, perhaps even better.