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Children with mental illness or behavioral disorders need support and supervision to help them meet treatment and educational goals. Enter the therapeutic support staff (TSS) worker, who is typically educated in psychology and might work in a school or community service agency. Duties vary, but mentoring and supervision are major responsibilities.
Basic Skills and Characteristics
Those who work in the field of psychology need specific skills and personal characteristics. A typical TSS job description includes analytical and problem-solving skills, patience and excellent communications skills for working with clients, families and other staff. A TSS worker must also be able to observe and understand facial expressions, body language and interactions with other people.
Therapeutic support is one of several strategies used to help children. The TSS worker helps manage the behavior of children and adolescents who have problems such as autism, in a community setting. Therapeutic support can prevent them from being institutionalized or required to live in more restrictive settings. The TSS worker’s primary responsibility is to act as a mentor and teacher, by reinforcing appropriate behavior and discouraging inappropriate or destructive behavior. She might use time-outs, structured activities or other strategies for this purpose.
Teamwork and Therapy
TSS workers interact with family members, helping them learn behavioral management techniques. They also collaborate with teachers and other members of the child’s community, provide education and support and identify problems that could affect treatment goals. A TSS worker might work directly with the teacher of a child to help her understand why the child is acting out and what strategies can help. TSS workers also use a variety of therapeutic techniques in one-on-one work with the child.
Education, Salary and Outlook
A bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field is the typical educational preparation for an entry-level position as a TSS worker. A TSS worker is not a psychologist, however, and cannot use that term. It is acceptable to use the term caseworker. A license is not required to become a TSS worker, though employers might prefer someone with previous experience in a mental health setting or who has worked with a particular patient population, such as children who have autism. Glassdoor.com reports the average annual salary for TSS workers in the U.S. to be $27,950. Employer, education, experience and geographic location can account for differences in pay among workers in the profession.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.