New Jersey’s only therapeutic school that is licensed by the State Division of Mental Health to provide treatment
Cornerstone Day School provides all of the clinical services, including those by psychiatrists, necessary to ensure that students fully resolve their emotional and psychiatric challenges 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 and forms a critical building block of The Cornerstone Experience. The core 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 and in the service of self-regulation, students are often seen more frequently individually during each week. Family sessions can be scheduled in evening hours to accommodate parent schedules, who are also invited to attend a full day “Parent Retreat” shortly after enrollment and monthly Parent Support Groups. The clinical program in the middle school meets the developmental needs of younger students and facilitates a highly interactive process to maintain engagement with them. Middle school students also participate in a therapeutic art component to encourage self-expression in a creative format, since some of these younger students are more comfortable with creative expression rather than 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, our clinicians generally carry a caseload of nine or fewer students.
Students attend regular sessions with Cornerstone’s board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, though 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 so that any needed urgent psychiatric sessions are provided immediately. These psychiatrists also observe students in the school setting and attend weekly clinical team meetings to ensure well-coordinated care.
Our clinical services are licensed by the NJ Division of Mental Health. This ensures 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 that holds such a license.
Support and guidance for students and parents is core to Cornerstone’s clinical services. Our 24-hour 7-day per week call line is always available to 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.
Approximately 20% of Cornerstone’s students have significant school avoidance. We have developed specialized clinical and educational protocols for these students that have proven to be highly successful. Thee students may begin in the mainstream structure or more typically, at our specialized school-within-a-school setting, Pathways at Cornerstone Day School. In both, the student is assigned to a member of our school avoidance team. After the initial clinical evaluation, including 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 of 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 successfully transition back to district, college or work.
For these students, the school’s Eating Disorders Treatment Coordinator, in collaboration with our medical team, oversees a wide range of services including a specialized psycho-educational group, supervised lunch, consultation with a certified 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 recovery.
In addition to process group therapy, we offer a specialized DBT psycho-educational group for students with significant personality disorders.This group meets daily to assist the students in acquiring emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness and learning the skills to help overcome problems with interpersonal relationships.
Certified therapy dogs visit group therapy each week. These dogs assist reluctant students to interact more positively within the group. Moreover, the therapy dogs motivate school avoidant students to attend school and enable our anxious, depressed students to experience feelings of pleasure and connectedness.