Evaluation & Interventions

Group TherapyWhen it comes to addressing school avoidance, evaluation and assessment is the first step. Interventions can then be applied to help students maintain regular attendance going forward.


Evaluation is the first step. The Institute of Living has experts from the Grace Webb School and Anxiety Disorders Center that are available to examine a student’s needs. Every child is different, so the IOL structures assessment based upon a student’s needs. The IOL is able to provide the following:

  • Academic review: File review and consultation with the school.

  • Diagnostic assessment: Is there a psychiatric diagnosis that is impacting the child’s school attendance (i.e. anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depressive disorder).

  • Examination of the function of school avoidant behavior. Does missing school/class provide the child an escape from negative emotions or social fears? Does missing school because they prefer to be spending time with trusted adults or doing fun things? The IOL can complete a functional analysis of school avoidant behavior that looks at four functions of school avoidance (Kearney & Silverman, 1999):

    • Avoidance of Negative Affect
    • Escape from Social Evaluation
    • Attention Getting Behavior
    • Pursuit of Tangible Reinforcement
  • Consultation with student’s current medical and mental health providers.

  • Assessment of motivation to return to school.

Learn more about the The Webb Schools Attendance Credit Recovery Programs


Credit recovery classroom:

  • For students that are behind on credits and need the right environment to catch up.
  • Small classroom setting.
  • Low stimulation.
  • Individualized academic instruction.
  • Opportunity for academic independence.
  • Clinical consultation (e.g., individual check-ins, seminars, family meetings) when needed.

Motivational enhancement consultation approach:

  • We respond to referrals from school districts or other agencies (e.g., DCF)
  • Assessing and utilizing the student’s motivation and desire to change.
  • Consultation with family and school to develop realistic re-entry plan.
  • Advocating for child’s needs for a successful school re-entry.
  • Facilitating communication between the school and family.
  • Regular meetings with student & family to assess progress, address any obstacles, and problem solve.
  • Serve as interface between student, parents, schools, and districts but remain neutral party in process.
  • Provide morning outreach services to assist and support to improve morning routine, remove family dynamics/conflict, and encourage independence of student in getting to school.

Cognitive behavioral therapy to address issues related to symptoms of anxiety and depression

  • Functional analysis of behavior
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Exposure based therapy
  • Emotion regulation skills
  • Social skills training
  • Parent management training
  • Consultation with school accommodations
    • Academic
    • Social
    • Emotional

Learn more about Anxiety Disorders Center School Refusal program