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ESS provides high quality and cost-effective in-district clinical services for students with emotional and behavioral problems 

The demand for specialized services for this population continues to grow, with out-of-district placements and other educational accommodations becoming a severe burden on school professionals and district budgets everywhere. Educators are searching for the answer on how best to provide the necessary services for these students within their district and in a cost-effective manner.

ESS has the answer

“The ESS staff works tirelessly and collaboratively with our staff on behalf of our students to provide immediate therapeutic interventions to students. I often wonder how we were ever able to manage these students without the ESS program in our school. ESS provides necessary support services for students, staff, and parents to enable students to remain in a mainstream educational setting with their peers.”

“I often wonder how we were ever able to manage these students without the ESS program in our school. ESS provides necessary support services to enable students to remain in a mainstream educational setting.”

John Pascale, High School Principal, Mahwah, NJ

“I don’t know what we would have done without you guys; you took so much time and provided comprehensive support and clinical expertise. We were ready to give up and take him out of school.”

“I don’t know what we would have done without you guys; we were ready to give up and take him out of school.”


“ESS is making such a difference for our students and our district. ESS students are attending classes, getting involved in school and are now able to benefit from all that our district can provide.”

“ESS students are attending classes, getting involved in school and are now able to benefit from all that our district can provide.”

Michael Weismann, Assistant Superintendent, Westfield, NJ

We Should Talk

We’d like to share our success with your district.

Our Solutions


We provide innovative clinical programs for districts seeking to reduce costs while increasing the quality of their in-district education for students with emotional and behavioral problems. We provide experienced clinical staff, proven programming, sound oversight and a mature system of quality and risk management.

Our solutions include:

Wrap-Around Program

This program provides the structure and support that helps at-risk students be educated within mainstream and/or self-contained classes. Services typically include:

  • Daily group therapy, including specialized protocols for problems such as substance abuse and impulse control
  • Weekly individual therapy
  • Family therapy, available in the evening to accommodate parent schedules
  • Monthly evening parent psycho-education and support group
  • Monthly distribution of Solutions, the ESS parent newsletter
  • School avoidance interventions, including home visits
  • An independent lunch period with ESS staff to avoid the stress of unstructured time in the cafeteria
  • Study skills class, typically led by a district teacher and supported by an ESS professional

In-District Therapeutic School

For large districts with significant out-of-district placements, an in-district therapeutic school is the ideal option.  ESS will provide:

  • All of the clinical services required for a comprehensive therapeutic school, including individual, group and family therapy
  • Psycho-educational programming geared to build social, educational and life skills
  • Parent support program
  • Monthly distribution of Solutions, the ESS parent newsletter
  • School avoidance interventions, including home visits
  • Therapeutic student handbook, protocols for crisis management and a school structure for building a healthy student community




ESS Services Prevent Out-of-District Placements and Dramatically Improves Grades, Attendance and School Behavior

ESS Results – 2016-2017 School Year

Above data represents weighted average of ESS high school student
performance in the four marking periods of the school year.

Since its inception in September 2009, ESS has tracked every student who has received services and collected objective measurements about the impact that ESS programming has had on the students. This focus on objective measurement is a key part of the organization’s commitment in evaluating its own services and sharing the data with school and district leadership.

As can be seen in the table above reporting on the 2016-2017 school year, ESS programming has a dramatic and positive impact on its students. The need for out-of-district placements is essentially ended; only 3.7% of ESS students received such a placement. However, the success of ESS programming is much broader than just preventing placements. The grades of ESS high school students increased, on average, by 31%, absences decreased by 45% and disciplinary incidents were reduced by 68%.

In other words, once a student enters ESS, the district leadership can be confident that the student will be able to stay and benefit from the wealth of opportunities that a public school system can provide, while getting better grades, attending more frequently and behaving better in school.

The Nine Steps To ESS Success


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ESS provides a proven, structured treatment program that is grounded in research and many years of clinical experience and has been codified in detailed proprietary protocols. ESS does not simply hire staff and place them within the district, leaving them to figure out how to work with the students based upon their own idiosyncratic experiences. The ESS protocols, constantly updated as a function of experience, data and new research, make ESS so unique and successful. Our staff delivers a high quality program in which they have been thoroughly trained – a program proven to make a huge difference for students and districts.

An important goal of ESS is to assist districts in providing teaching staff with the skills needed to work with students with emotional and behavioral problems. At no additional cost, ESS regularly conducts on-site in-service training for district teachers and provides all-day off-site conferences for selected teaching staff. ESS also distributes Insights in ESS districts, a monthly newsletter for educational professionals that includes practical tips on how to work with students who have emotional and behavioral problems in the classroom.

Every clinician, regardless of experience, benefits from clinical supervision and quality management oversight. Without these functions, a clinician is never challenged or provided an opportunity to process difficult students and improve his/her skills.

ESS has developed a structure of supervision and quality management that is like no other, assigning each district a team of highly seasoned professionals that provides services that are unique to ESS:

  • On-site supervision and consultation by one of ESS’s Regional Clinical Directors on a once to twice-weekly basis, all of whom are highly experienced mental health professionals and part of the ESS leadership team. Each ESS staff member receives in-depth clinical supervision in a group and individual setting each week.
  • On-going monitoring of each student’s medical record by ESS’s Quality Management team.
  • Monthly program review to ensure the services provided are consistent with ESS protocols.

Clinical Supervision and Quality Management ensure that the services provided to the district are always being monitored and are top notch.

School avoidance is a frequent problem in many school districts and ESS has written a unique protocol that has been used with great success. The ESS protocol includes a specialized assessment for school avoidant students and their parents, intensive and frequent home visits by ESS staff and, when needed, a supportive re-entry to school procedure.

Students with significant behavioral problems can create major challenges for school districts on many levels. ESS has developed specialized programming that allows these students to be successfully educated within the district in a wide range of enviornments, including self-contained classrooms, twilight programs and mainstream settings. Key to the ESS success with these students is a unique training program for the teaching staff, complemented by daily processing of classroom activities with teaching staff to ensure that the classroom remains a non-reactive environment.

ESS has developed a series of objective measures evaluating the impact of the program on a district’s students and ESS shares the results with each district several times per year, a process unheard of in the school mental health field. The data provides a strong degree of comfort for district leadership and school boards when evaluating ESS.

Key to ESS success is the unique depth and type of services provided for the parents of its students. In addition to on-going family therapy (provided day or evening, whichever is better for the parent), ESS provides a monthly parent support program that follows a detailed psycho-educational program that ESS has developed and is regularly modified for new needs of parents. Another unique feature is Solutions, the monthly ESS parent newsletter that provides useful information and parenting tips for all ESS parents.

ESS maintains detailed medical records on its students, similar to those used in structured psychiatric treatment programs, a standard of documentation that is typically not seen in the field of public education. The ESS documentation method not only ensures that proper care is provided, but these records offer the district a unique defense if the level of educational and special education services provided to a student ever comes under any scrutiny.

ESS guarantees the quality of its staff and will remove any staff member if so requested by a district. ESS only employs highly experienced mental health professionals who have specific expertise in working with adolescents with significant emotional and behavioral problems. A first job upon graduation is never available at ESS!

ESS Presentation Library

An important goal of ESS is to assist districts in providing teaching staff with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with students with emotional and behavioral problems. To this end, ESS provides on-site professional development for district teachers. Listed are the trainings available, each of which can be provided in sixty to ninety minutes.

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This presentation is designed to identify and address the various behavioral needs of students in the classroom. Teachers will be provided with evidence-based supportive strategies that will help maximize learning for all students. The information presented is practical and applicable.

Participants will learn how significant emotional problems can impair executive function. Assessment and surveys will be introduced along with practical approaches and strategies that teachers can use in developing executive function among students with emotional problems in the classroom setting.

This presentation will help teachers have a better understanding of what makes a “fragile child” fragile. It will also discuss some specific techniques for helping students to perform better in the public school classroom.

An introduction to Howard Glasser’s “Nurtured Heart Approach,” a philosophy and technique that “focuses on energizing success and de-energizing failure.” Teachers will learn classroom techniques to help shape and support positive classroom behavior among students struggling with emotional and behavioral problems.

This training will offer 10 approaches that teachers can use in the classroom to avoid getting involved in power struggles with students and triggering defiant or oppositional behaviors, and instead promote cooperation among the teacher and the students.

We all experience stress. When stress occurs frequently in the classroom, however, and particularly when it stems from the challenges in educating students with emotional and/or behavioral problems, it takes a toll on a teacher’s physical and emotional well-being, and her/his ability to teach effectively. This training helps teachers identify, understand and overcome this stress in order to gain professional satisfaction and work more successfully with difficult students.

According to the work of pioneering psychologist Pat Ogden, Ph.D., learning will only occur when students and teacher are all in “Optimal Arousal Zones.” This training will share Dr. Ogden’s work in helping teachers to recognize when they, themselves, and their students are in one of three zones of arousal—Hyper, Optimal and Hypo—as well as strategies to better regulate and maintain optimal cognitive and emotional functioning.

Participants will receive an overview of child and adolescent depression and treatment options as well as how depression impacts school performance, with the goal of helping teachers support and work more effectively with these students.

School avoidance is a growing problem that prevents students from reaching their academic potential. Popular types of school avoidance treatment will be reviewed as well as suggestions for how teachers can effectively interact with parents while supporting students’ consistent attendance in the school setting.

Conceptualized by Carol Dweck, “mindset” is a simple idea based on decades of research that looks at the contrast between a fixed versus a growth mindset and how it impacts an individual’s level of success. Teaching students the view of a growth mindset creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.

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Professional Development

Multi-Ethnic Group

Key to the success of ESS programming is the training of school district staff in managing students with emotional and behavioral problems in the public school classroom. Toward this end, ESS regularly provides training for teaching staff, both on-site within the district and off-site in intensive day-long workshops. ESS publishes and distributes Insights, a monthly newsletter for ESS district teaching staff that highlights important research topics relevant to educating students with emotional and behavioral problems and always includes practical tips for educators.


Who We Are

ESS was originally an outgrowth of Cornerstone Day School, an innovative private therapeutic school for students with major psychiatric illness in New Jersey.

Founded in 2005 by David Nyman, Ph.D. and Allan Blau. Ed.D., Cornerstone has changed the nature of special education for students with emotional problems in New Jersey, providing a unique setting that integrates state of the art psychiatric treatment with a comprehensive academic curriculum.

Together, Drs. Nyman and Blau bring a wealth of experience to ESS, well beyond their work at Cornerstone.

Leadership Team

David Nyman, Ph.D.

Dr. Nyman, the Chief Executive Officer of ESS, is a clinical psychologist and an expert in the development and management of structured behavioral health treatment programs. He has devoted his career to creating innovative models of treatment delivery and for eighteen years, ending in 2012, was the Executive Director of High Focus Centers (HFC). Under his leadership, HFC became the most prominent treatment delivery system in New Jersey, with extensive services for adolescents with major psychiatric and/or substance abuse problems.

Allan Blau, Ed.D. L.C.S.W.

Dr. Blau has been a leader in the field of special education for over 40 years. Educator, clinician and administrator, Dr. Blau has designed and founded numerous schools and programs for special needs children throughout the tri-state region. In addition to his responsibilities at ESS and Cornerstone, Dr. Blau is currently the vice-president in charge of clinical certifications of therapeutic schools and programs for the National Independent Private School Association.

Gerard Barone, LCSW

Gerard Barone, LCSW, is the Executive Director of ESS. While working with Dr. Nyman at High Focus Centers for many years, Mr. Barone played a critical role in the development of numerous innovative programming initiatives for adolescents with psychiatric and /or substance abuse disorders. He oversaw the development of all psychiatric services at Cornerstone and has led ESS since its launching in 2009. Mr. Barone is responsible for the unique ESS protocols and oversees all staff and programming.

Districts Served

ESS serves 83 schools in 45 school districts in the Northeast. While there are many differences among these districts, all have a strong desire to provide the best possible educational experience for their students while retaining them within the district.

What Administrators Say About ESS



Putting Solutions to Work

ESS stands ready to conduct a no-cost consultation about how we can put our solutions to work, reducing costs and increasing the quality of education for students with emotional and behavioral problems.

To learn more about our services, or to schedule an initial consultation, please call us at (973) 299-9954.

Find out how we can help