Wellness Program

Interior Masthead

The Friends Select Wellness Program, now in its seventh year, engages the school’s community and the general public about mental health and other wellness issues. It is spearheaded by Natan Gottesman, Ph.D., the school’s psychologist, Gabrielle Kenny, M.S.Ed., M.Phil.Ed., LPC, the middle school/upper school counselor, and Chris Singler, upper school director. The program provides information, strategies, support, and resources to students, faculty, and families in the Friends Select community and beyond. Through speaking events, presentations, and participatory activities, the program increases awareness of issues that can affect student learning and well-being, such as mental health challenges, learning styles, peer relationships, social media and internet use, academic pressures, the college application process, and current events.

2022-23 Wellness Program Events

The Anxiety Paradox: Why Helping Kids Feel Bad Can Help Them to Feel Good, with Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary

Thursday, March 9, 6 p.m. 
Blauvelt Theatre, Friends Select School Parkway Building

To watch a recording of this event, click here.

Students are struggling with anxiety—everything from social and academic anxieties, to apprehension about the future, to just plain feeling overwhelmed. Debilitating anxiety in youth has been on the rise for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated this long-standing problem. In this talk, presented by the Friends Select School Wellness Program, Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary will provide a new model for ways to think about and deal with anxiety, and address how parents and guardians can best support their kids. Dr. Dennis-Tiwary is Friends Select’s Molly Patterson Wellness Speaker for the 2022-23 school year.

A renowned psychologist, author, and anxiety researcher, Dr. Dennis-Tiwary will discuss new perspectives on anxiety, how anxieties show up at home and in school at different ages, how to distinguish healthy from unhealthy anxiety (yes, there is healthy anxiety!), and how our own parental anxieties can get in the way of finding solutions—inadvertently blocking kids from building coping skills and learning to be anxious in the right ways. She will also share actionable, evidence-based strategies for helping kids and teens manage anxiety better, learn from it, and even leverage it to their advantage.

Following the talk, Dr. Dennis-Tiwary will be signing copies of her book, Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad), which will be available for purchase.

About the Speaker

Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. is a researcher, entrepreneur, and author of the book Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad), Harper Wave, 2022. She is a professor of psychology and neuroscience, Director of the Emotion Regulation Lab, and Co-Executive Director of the Center for Health Technology at Hunter College, The City University of New York. As Founder and CSO of Wise Therapeutics, she translates neuroscience and cognitive therapy techniques into gamified, clinically validated digital therapeutics for mental health. She has published over 100 scientific articles and delivered over 400 presentations at academic conferences and for corporate clients. She has been featured throughout the media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, Netflix, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Today Show, and Bloomberg Television.

Wellness Meetings

As an ongoing foundational aspect of the program since its inception, Natan and Gabby meet with small groups of upper school students throughout the school year for “Wellness Meetings.” Issues such as mental health, academic successes and struggles, stress and stress management, navigation of upper school expectations, and time management are discussed.

The Wellness Program is made possible by the generous and thoughtful support of Jeff Abrams and Margaret Barry P ’15, ’16. They continue to support the Wellness Program for students, faculty/staff, families, and the community, in recognition of the creative and compassionate energy that Molly Patterson Ed.D. and Natan Gottesman, Ph.D. have brought to the program since its inception to help it grow and respond to the needs of the Friends Select community.

Make a gift to the Wellness Program.

Past Wellness Program Events

In the 2017-18 school year, the Wellness Program brought Kenneth Ginsburg to speak about his book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust. The program continues to expand, with events intended to increase conversation about the connections between stress, overall mental health and well-being, and academic engagement.

In the 2018-19 school year, the Wellness Program hosted a screening and panel discussion for Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety, an IndieFlix documentary that explores the multilayered effects of anxiety on our society. This film was screened for parents and the wider community, as well as for faculty and students in the upper and middle school. In addition, speakers were brought in from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who presented information about mental illness to upper school students, with one speaker candidly sharing her own personal experiences with mental illness, treatment, and recovery.

In the 2019-20 school year, the Wellness Program presented adolescent mental health expert Anthony Rostain and family therapist B. Janet Hibbs, authors of The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years. They discussed their recently published book, which is intended to help students and parents cope with the stress and anxiety associated with college.

In the 2020-21 school year, the Wellness Program hosted two virtual events: Youth Suicide Risk: What You Should Know with Dr. Terri Erbacher, and Helping Students Thrive During Pandemic Schooling with Denise Pope, Ph.D.

During the 2021-22 school year, the Wellness Program hosted an event in the fall titled Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine: Addressing Your Questions and Concerns. This virtual event included a multi-disciplinary panel discussion featuring Dr. Susan Coffin, Dr. Paul Planet, Dr. Tina Scott, and Kathryn Snyder. In recognition of the designation of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, Friends Select psychologist Natan Gottesman and school counselor Gabby Kenny offered a virtual Wellness Program event titled Suicide Prevention and Education: What You Should Know, to inform caregivers and other community members about warning signs, coping skills, and action steps related to suicide prevention.