Editor’s note-the Kane School District, local county and city government and law enforcement have made ‘keeping our schools safe’ a priority.

By Dixie Brunner

When the Kane School District was reviewing school safety, one main component identified was the need for mental health counseling to address safety concerns related to emotional well-being.

Josh and Deborah Dambara, of Nurture Child and Family Therapy, 217 East 300 South #201, fit the bill. Both husband and wife have Masters Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy from Loma Linda University in California, as well as post graduate training in Gestault (a specific type of therapy) from Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles (GATLA). They are licensed Marriage and Family Therapists in the state of Utah. The Dambaras have three children: Henri, six; Scarlet, three; and Vivien, one.

The couple offers counseling services to the private sector as well. For the student referrals that qualify for the school counseling program, they are paid by the school district, as well as additional funding by the Kane Education Foundation.

“We began in 2016 providing services for the school district,” said Deborah. “It’s a unique relationship.”

How the student would get a referral to go to the Dambaras would be if the child was identified by a teacher, staff member and/or parent as having mental health needs that are negatively effecting their ability to function in the school setting, generally resulting in spiraling grades or behavior issues in the classroom, etc. Once the student is referred, the principal then reviews the recommendation and determines if the child qualifies for the school program and requests an initial evaluation.

Dambara said that she and her husband prefer family therapy, because it presents a more vested unit on working together for the student’s improvement. “We prefer the parents participating, because it helps the child succeed.”

She added that most of the students referred do actually want to talk, because they have felt emotionally-isolated. She said that rural communities, such as where we live, do have a higher rate of depression. Dambara said that she and her husband offer crisis services to students in the counseling program, and that they have had crisis referrals even from the elementary schools.

They strive to help the young person gain safety, secure attachment and emotional intelligence. In that capacity, they work with the family to address potential safety concerns, possible attachment injuries, as well as to improve the child’s emotional intelligence in increasing self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills in therapy.

Dambara praises the commitment that Superintendent Ben Dalton, the Kane County School Board, the Kane Education Foundation and the Kane School District staff have had in recognizing the importance of mental health to school safety and academic success.

“They (the staff) have been excellent in identifying at-risk kids, and have done a lot in de-stigmatizing mental health issues,” said Dambara.