SEL/SAC Counselor- What can they do for you?

GMS Student Assistance Program in Counseling

Being a student can sometimes be difficult. Balancing the demands of school, family, and relationships can be overwhelming for a student of any age. Students impacted by these stressors are at greater risk for socio-emotional and behavioral health concerns as well as lower academic achievement. These negative stressors may be considered barriers to educational success. Schools need multiple tools in their system toolboxes to address staff and student needs in addressing barriers to academic success and healthy development. No one program or system is designed to meet all needs. While one system can address behavior management and another address skill deficits, these systems are not designed to meet all student needs or address all the issues that impact students in the learning process.

The Garfield Middle School has established a comprehensive Student Assistance Program (SAP) utilizing a Multi-Tiered System for building support for all students. In our SAP we utilize the following: Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive Behavior Supports in Schools (PBSIS), Social Emotional Learning and Substance Abuse Awareness programs.


The Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) provides support to the student and work on helping to prevent personal difficulties from interfering with their success in the school environment. SACs help students who are coping with social, emotional, and behavioral issues, child-focused crisis, mental health issues and typically provide drug and alcohol prevention and intervention counseling services. Referral and support comes from within the school environment and through outside community services.

 What is Student Assistance?

The program includes many prevention services as well as confidential counseling services for students. The Student Assistance Program (SAP) is designed to collaborate with teachers/parents in an effort to determine effective strategies to best support their child.

The Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) gets to know students in order to help them manage common adolescent obstacles from a strengths-based perspective. Assessment and short-term counseling are provided. If ongoing therapy is indicated, referrals are made to outside services.

What kinds of problems does the Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) deal with?

  • Peer and Social Problems
  • Drug and Alcohol Problems
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety and Mood Disorders
  • Grief and Loss
  • Family Transitions
  • Depression and Suicide Prevention
  • Self-Injury (suicidal ideation)
  • Emotion Management
  • Stress Management
  • And more…

All services are confidential.


Confidentiality laws regulating Substance Abuse professionals is located in the Federal Regulations, Title 42, (42 CFR).  With regard to school-based substance abuse professionals, this authority is referred to in the New Jersey Administrative Code, 6A:16-3.2 wherein it states: “Each district board of education shall assure compliance with the following confidentiality requirements:

  1. Confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records, pursuant to 42 CFR part 2; and
  2. Confidentiality of information provided by….a secondary school student while participating in a school-based drug and alcohol counseling program which indicates that the student’s parent or other person residing in the student’s household is dependent upon or illegally using substances…”

In most cases, only the standard exceptions to this law apply; these are: when a student gives written consent; when a crime has been threatened; under a proper court order; if a student presents as a threat to hurt themselves or others; or a student makes allegations of child abuse or neglect.


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