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Supporting the Mental Health of Our School Community

The mental health of the Germantown Academy community may be more important that one realizes, especially during the unprecedented times we are currently experiencing in our world. Fortunately, GA has an experienced team of counselors that provide guidance and support to those in our community who may need help.

Counselors consult and observe in the classroom as a routine part of their work addressing social and emotional development and the enhancement of students' academic experiences. They work with faculty, staff, parents, and students, individually and in groups, to provide professional insight and offer strategies to best meet student needs.  Services are private and confidential, unless there is perceived danger.

Some of the daily work of GA’s counseling team includes private meetings with students and consultations with parents and faculty to address mental health and learning concerns along with building and sustaining a healthy and safe environment at GA. They also provide peer mediations, health and wellness lessons, consultations with outside clinicians at parents’ requests, coordination of learning accommodations, and referrals for psycho-educational evaluations and outpatient counseling.

Currently, students across the three divisions are reporting an increase in stress, worry, and anxiety. While this is not uncommon due to starting a new school year, or a new school, the pandemic we are all living through has heightened everyone’s emotional capacities. Signs to look for include increased irritability (anger, arguing), changes in energy level, increased or new bouts of crying, excessive worrying, increased withdrawal from others or situations, and blaming others for everything.  What can families do to help in these situations? Examine these thoughts (Are they true? How do you know? Where's your proof?) to help lessen automatic emotional responses like worry and anxiety. Physiological manifestations of anxiety (rapid breathing, heart pounding) may create further worry or increase in response to worry, so focusing on reducing those symptoms can also be helpful. Help them to keep things in perspective, monitor/limit news watching and social media, ask for the facts, avoid blaming, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep and exercise, maintain connections with other (even if only electronically), employ favorite healthy coping strategies such as mindfulness, listening to music, journaling, reading, exercise, and try and practice kindness and emotional generosity.

Most of all, please know that the counseling team is always available to help! If families have specific concerns about their child(ren), they should not hesitate to reach out to a member of the GA counseling team. Counselors are available for in-person or virtual counseling sessions.

The GA Counseling Team

Janet Maurer, Ph.D.
Director of Counseling Services


Chrissie Baumann, MA
Upper School Counselor


Matt Elliser, MA
Upper School Counselor


Robert Hunt, LMFT
Consulting Counselor


Andrea Kurtz, Pys.D.
Middle School Psychologist


Shannon Sweitzer, Ph.D.
Lower School Psychologist