Is your teen struggling with extreme anxiety, intense emotions, risky behavior, poor decision making, peer conflict, or problems with social media?
Why Should Your Teen Do It Alone?
Because real life learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, social problems arise in social contexts, and teens perform differently under the scrutiny of peers.
“This group changed me. Group taught me skills I could never teach myself. I learned how to sit in a classroom without having an anxiety attack. I learned how to stay mindful. The group was and is still a huge part of who I am today. Without this group, I would be lost.”
How Group Can Help
Make poor decisions or engage in risky behavior
Consider real life consequences with realistic peer input
Are suffering the consequences of poor decision making
Tell your story, grieve your losses, grow from your experience
Feel misunderstood, alienated, or disconnected from peer group
Obtain validation and understanding by putting words on experience
Experience intense anxiety or have panic attacks
Rehearse confident actions, avoid avoiding, face fears together
Get into situations where you feel taken advantage of or feel overwhelmed by other people’s problems
Identify the cost of speaking up, saying no, and asserting yourself
Don’t know what to say when you are pressured or harassed
Identify and practice what to say and how to say it
Have lost a lot of friends, gone through significant changes, or feel as if your life is unstable
Offer a consistent peer cohort/ community over time to increase stability and support
Experience intense emotions that may feel out of control
Understand and tolerate painful emotions
Struggle to attend school because you don’t do well in classes or groups
Become more confident among peers
- Peer presence can enhance emotions, thus certain behaviors only “show up” when peers are present
- Being vulnerable in front of others enhances intimacy and connection and buffers against depression and isolation
- Being able to tell one’s story about “what happened” and recover from pain will help develop a sense of mastery and control, decrease isolation, grieve losses, and move on
- Groups provide peer perspectives, reality based feedback, and more opportunity to be heard and understood.
What happens in the groups?
Adolescent group therapy incorporates a wide range of interventions that include skills based learning, group cohesion building exercises, psychodrama, role play, discussion, open sharing, and rehearsal of effective action. A mindfulness-based activity is incorporated at the beginning of each group to focus attention and quiet the mind. Adolescents are asked also to track data each group session about frequency, length, and duration of symptoms.
Topics vary based on what members need and the developmental process of each group. Skill interventions include practical and concrete suggestions for addressing emotions, stress, relationships, and anxiety. Themes can include giving peers constructive feedback, handling social media, speaking up and speaking out, LGBTQ issues, ethnic identity, adoption, grades and schoolwork, time management, body image, peer conflict/ peer pressure, the college application process, loss and saying good-bye, divorce and stepfamilies, parental expectations, family conflict, and school/ college transitions.
How long are the groups?
The groups are ongoing and open ended, as many painful challenges and developmental tasks crop up during high school. This means that groups go on for years and members can come and go, thus there is usually no waitlist to get into a group. The minimal commitment for the group is three months. In general, the participants of my groups look forward to attending and discover that it is a unique and consistent place to be together in a way that is really helpful. Members have stayed in my groups for several years. The groups meet weekly.
Are these DBT skills groups?
DBT is an acronym for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT skills are educational tools to help people understand and manage intense emotion, tolerate painful situations without making them worse, interact effectively, and quiet the mind to focus attention and control one’s behavior. DBT skills groups are often time limited, taught in a classroom-like manner, curriculum based, homework oriented, and content-driven. My groups are ongoing, incorporate DBT content, allow for peer interaction and participation, and enable members to offer their strengths and feedback to each other.
How big are the groups?
I won’t take more than 8 people. In some cases I might admit less based on the needs of the current group, which takes priority over incoming members.
What are the requirements?
1) Most (but not all) group members attend a private or public high school in the greater Boston area and are typically receiving individual psychotherapy.
2) Members attend willingly. While ambivalence is normal and it makes sense that teens don’t have a clear idea of what group is like prior to joining, teens who are opposed to attending will not be admitted.
3) Members do not attend the same high school as anyone else in the group. Members agree not to contact each other between the groups for privacy and confidentiality. Some members may be in junior high or college age and will be considered for admission based on the goodness-of-fit for the group.
5) Members understand the importance of regular attendance and are willing to commit to at least three months of group.
6) Parents and teens are expected to complete the prescreening requirements.
Being in a group where no one else attends the same high school is a powerful way in which privacy, confidentiality, and peer support is encouraged. Because of my unique location, I can typically admit people from a wide range of locations and high schools. Sometimes the privacy is worth it!
How do I get my adolescent into your groups?
Call me and leave a message on my voicemail letting me some good times to return your call. Two pre-screenings are required to get into the groups. For information on cost, click here.
Before you attend the first session, please go to the forms section of the website, where you will find directions on what to read and fill out prior to your intake. (Additional information regarding group parameters can be found on the Adolescent Parent Consent 2016).