St. Raphael Counseling’s robust and growing team has ambitious plans to offer counseling for every child in local Catholic schools.
The team of compassionate and licensed counselors will double their days of counseling services in Catholic Schools this current school year and has plans to expand into more schools in Northern Colorado to meet the needs of grade-school and high school students.
School counselors from the Catholic Charities counseling program were available 25 days per week in 14 different Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Denver, said Dr. Jim Langley, executive director of St. Raphael Counseling and a licensed clinical psychologist. This school year, that number of days will be doubled. Within three years the team wants a full-time counselor in every Catholic school.
“God is amazing because he is already providing,” he said. “The even more impressive foundation is that the Catholic schools are now going to have tools available to help even the one child who doesn’t fit in — or who is a little more difficult to educate — or just to help provide a more inclusive learning environment.”
The start of this major expansion of counseling began with a partnership with the Archdiocese of Denver and its Office of Catholic Schools. Gina Lanz, the director of school counseling and psychology services, is leading the team of school counselors.
“As far as I know, this doesn’t exist anywhere else,” he said. “And really a lot of it has to do with the vision and generosity of the archdiocese. They’ve been incredibly open and exciting to work with through all of this.”
The St. Raphael Counseling team has long seen the need to serve children and youth and started with a team of school counselors. However, the need continues to grow.
Last year, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a “state of emergency” in youth mental health, the first time in its 117-year history. Emergency rooms saw children coming in experiencing mental health crises. Low-level anxiety and depression were exacerbated by isolation and stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes resulting in suicide attempts, according to the hospital.
Langley and his team saw the need to rise to the crisis. They are also forming a crisis response team to respond to emergencies to assist a school community and be present to help them.
The St. Raphael’s team is uniquely equipped to aid with diagnosis and assessments of students at Catholic schools.
For example, one St. Raphael school psychologist helped a young girl who wasn’t getting along with her peers and also struggled academically. She was being raised by her grandmother who had a difficult time providing the resources and time to help her granddaughter, Dr. Langley said. The counselor performed psychological testing and discovered the girl is highly intelligent and gifted, showing an IQ in the 99th percentile. She was not excelling because she was bored in class and reportedly experienced a lot of past trauma. Thanks to St. Raphael’s counselor, the young student is now excelling in school and is happy.
Catholic schools are leaders in excellent education, and, more importantly, leaders in forming the whole child, he said, which includes social-emotional development. St. Raphael’s plans to ensure every child has the best growth and support possible as a part of their attendance at Catholic schools.