Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Anthony Setari

Second Advisor

Chelsey Simmons

Third Advisor

Erin Burt


The purpose of this research was to determine what components of academic and therapeutic clinical day programs ensure success for students with mental health diagnoses as they transition back to conventional educational settings. This study focused on the importance of developing students' capabilities to fulfill their own needs within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs through coping skills, academic skills, and ensuring those skills transition to their traditional home school setting. The research questions guiding this study were: 1. How is “successful reintegration” defined for students with mental health concerns by the students, families, teachers, and other school staff? 2. What program components are present in effective clinical day programs?

The methodology for this research was an evaluative case study approach, with interviews serving as the primary form of data collection. Three staff members at two clinical day programs that serve middle and high school students provided valuable insight into what components of the programs help students prepare for the transition back to traditional schools.

The study findings indicated that enhancing students' capacity to independently use therapeutic and academic skills significantly improved the likelihood of a successful transition to their home school. The most important themes that came from the research included skills to help students meet their needs within the Hierarchy of Needs, individualization of the clinical day program, and the various possible outcomes.

This study provides the foundation for further development of clinical day programs that focus on the therapeutic skills and academic skills necessary for students to successfully transition from a more restrictive environment to a less restrictive setting. It also leads to continuing research in methods to ensure students’ ability to continue utilizing the skills learned across various settings.