What is DIS counseling?

Special Education is full of terms to master. One term that’s being heard more is “DIS counseling.” DIS stands for designated instructional service. This is another term for related services.  Related services are any service needed for a student to access his or her education and make progress in IEP goals in the least restrictive environment (see the LRE page from our IEP packet in English or in Spanish). Designated instructional services” (DIS) and “related services” mean the same thing.

During the years when Assembly Bill 3632 mandated County/Community Mental Health as the agency to provide mental health school services to students receiving Special Education, the term “mental health” or “CMH services” was commonly used.  With the ending of AB 3632, school districts are now responsible to provide services for students whose emotional challenges get in the way of their education, and the term DIS Counseling is being used. You may also hear the terms “Educationally Related Mental

Health Services” (ERMHS) in Sonoma County and “Mental Health as a Related Service” (MHRS) in Solano County. ERMHS and MHRS are the same as DIS counseling (term used in Marin County).

If your school district indicates that your student may need counseling, be sure to clarify if this is DIS counseling (Special Education counseling) or if this is counseling provided through general education. For a student in Special Education to receive any related service, an assessment is done to identify need and to guide the type, duration, frequency, and location of a service.

For more information on related services/DIS, see:



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