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About Mental Health Support at Cotting School

The primary goal of providing mental health services at Cotting is to reduce or remove barriers to learning.  To that end, we address a variety of issues including new student transitions to Cotting, disability awareness, social skill development, decision making, identification, regulation and management of emotions, decision making, problem solving.  Our goal is to provide our students with learning opportunities so that they develop the skills that they need to be as confident and independent as possible.

Cotting has several faculty that bring a variety of backgrounds in the area of mental health.  The Mental Health Team consists of the School Psychologist, Guidance Counselor, Family Support Coordinator and Medical Team Leader.  In addition, our Admissions Director and the Director of Upper School Services, both of whom have backgrounds in Guidance Counseling, sit on the team.  The Mental Health Team is a resource for teachers, administrators and parents.  They provide support and consultation regarding individual students, classroom or social groups, family and Cotting School community issues.

Rachel Vorkink is our School Psychologist.  Rachel is a talented clinician who brings many years of experience to our school community.  Rachel is a valued part of the Mental Health Team.  The main focus of her work at Cotting is offering individual and/or small group counseling to students for whom it is a need.  She works with them on identifying their emotions and those of others, regulating their emotions, creating and using social stories at home and at school for the purpose of preparing for events and/or reducing anxiety.  Rachel also supports our staff in consulting with them regarding students on her caseload as well problem-solving issues that arise for students who do not receive counseling. In addition, she works closely with parents to develop good home-school communication so that skills that students are learning in either place can be shared.  Rachel also teaches our Middle School Health classes.

Kathy Tyrer is our Guidance Counselor.  The main focus of Kathy’s work is on our Upper School Students who are readying themselves for transition.  She is a great resource regarding adult agencies that serve students with disabilities including the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (Mass Rehab).  As a part of the transition planning process, the Guidance Counselor will work to help a student identify interests, skills and strengths so that the student is able to identify a sense of themselves as a worker and independent adult.  This knowledge and understanding helps our students to set short and long-term goals in the areas of vocation, housing, transportation, community services and recreation/leisure. Our Guidance Counselor also provides individual and small group counseling to Upper School Students and consults weekly with Upper School teachers.

Dr. Pamela Varrin is our Family Support Coordinator and is a Clinical Psychologist. She is also a member of the Senior Administrative Team.  Dr. Varrin works with our parents in many ways.  She facilitates our Parent Advisory Council and coordinates its subcommittees, which consist of the Government Affairs Committee, the Transition Committee and the Parents as Teachers and Learners.  Additionally, Pam helps to facilitate the “Cotting Family Builders” group, which does a variety of activities and fundraisers to support our school community.  Pam is always available to parents to listen, problem-solve and consult on issues related to the experience of having a child with a disability.  She is also a wonderful resource for community-based mental health supports and referrals.