Cornerstone Day School provides all of the necessary clinical services, including those by psychiatrists, to ensure that students fully resolve their emotional and psychiatric problems so that they can be prepared to leave Cornerstone, whether it is to return to public school, enter college or begin working.
Our clinical regimen is always tailored to each student’s individual needs. The core clinical program typically begins with twice-daily group therapy, one that is insight-oriented and one that is a DBT-informed psycho-educational group. There is also weekly individual and family therapy; the individual therapy frequently occurs more often, depending upon the student’s needs. Family sessions are often scheduled in evening hours to accommodate parent schedules. Parents are also invited to attend a full day “Parent Retreat” shortly after their child is enrolled, as well as monthly Parent Support Groups. The clinical program in the middle school is tailored to meet the developmental needs of the younger students and facilitates a highly interactive manner to maintain engagement with the younger students. In addition, middle school students participate in a therapeutic art component to encourage self-expression in a creative format, since some of these younger students are more comfortable with this creative expression in lieu of traditional talk therapy.
All of our clinical staff are highly experienced licensed mental health professionals and always have an extensive background in the treatment of children and adolescents. In order to provide the highest level of quality care possible for each student, our clinicians generally carry a caseload of nine or fewer students.
Cornerstone students attend regular sessions with on-staff board-certified child and adolescent staff psychiatrists, the frequency of which varies with the needs of each student. Students can elect to continue seeing their own private psychiatrist and if so, Cornerstone’s clinical staff works closely with that psychiatrist to carefully coordinate care. Cornerstone’s psychiatrists are at the school on a daily basis, insuring that any needed urgent psychiatric sessions can be provided immediately. These psychiatrists also attend weekly clinical team meetings to ensure well-coordinated care.
Our clinical services are licensed by the NJ Department of Health and Human Services. This insures that our services are independently evaluated and monitored by the state of New Jersey, providing parents and school districts an extra level of confidence concerning our mental health services. Cornerstone is the only therapeutic school in New Jersey which holds such a license.
Support and guidance for students and parents is core to Cornerstone’s clinical services and central to the path of a student’s full recovery. We have our own 24-hour 7-day a week call line to support our students and parents when there are any important questions or struggles outside of school hours. Parents find this availability particularly helpful in managing any difficult moments with their child.
Speciaized Clinical Services
Approximately 20% of all students referred to Cornerstone have significant school avoidance. We have developed specialized clinical and educational protocols for these students that have proven to be highly successful. When a school avoidant student is enrolled at Cornerstone, he/she may be begin in the mainstream structure or more typically, at Cornerstone’s specialized school-within-a-school setting: Pathways at Cornerstone Day School. Regardless, the student is assigned to a member of our school avoidance team. After the initial clinical evaluation, which includes a specialized school avoidance assessment completed by both parent and student, treatment typically includes proactive outreach activities such as nightly phone calls and home visits, complemented by intensive family work. Depending upon the academic needs to the student, he/she may initially receive 1:1 or small group instruction. This individualized attention allows for rapid progress and the development of a healthy teacher-student relationship, which is key to helping students gain comfort in mainstream classes.
Every day, our protocols help students overcome their anxiety, thrive at Cornerstone and, ultimately, successfully transition back to district, college or work.
Cornerstone provides clinical and related services for students with eating disorders. Our Eating Disorders Treatment Coordinator, in collaboration with our medical team, oversees a comprehensive program that includes specialized individual and family therapy, a DBT-informed psycho-educational group for eating-disordered adolescents, a supervised lunch period, counseling by our nutritionist, and customized yoga and art classes with an emphasis on body, mind and wellness.
Recovery Process Group
Although Cornerstone does not accept students with active substance abuse problems, we provide regular toxicology screening and a specialized recovery group for students who have had a prior substance abuse problem but are now in active and successful recovery.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based and highly regarded therapeutic approach that is infused in much of the clinical work done at Cornerstone. DBT focuses on helping students manage their symptoms through teaching the skills of Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness. DBT is particularly effective for students suffering from a number of personality disorders. For these students, we have a special DBT clinical track that focuses on learning the skills of DBT to help overcome problems with interpersonal relationships.
Other Specialized Groups
Specialty groups are formed when needed. Examples include adoption, attachment disorder, sexual orientation and gender identity. Depending on the needs of the students, these groups can be a single semester or a full year.