Groups & Workshops
Established GROUPS for Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
Dr. Robert Rivera has been running social skills groups for the past 12 years for children, adolescents, and young adults. The social skills groups are designed for individuals who may have difficulties with making or keeping friends, who are being bullied, withdrawn, isolative, behaviorally acting out, engaging in risk taking behaviors, going through transition(s), and/or academic difficulties. Group members’ diagnoses may range from Autism/Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, NLD, anxiety, depression, and adjustment to college, work and the like. Group counseling can offer a safe, supportive and empathic setting where the counselor determines the boundaries and limits. Group provides an opportunity for children, adolescents, and young adults to feel immediate acceptance, first by the counselor and then, in time, by other group members. The safe setting provides an opportunity to learn how to make friends and, for many individuals, their first experience of feeling wanted and important to the life of a group.
Dr. Rivera’s social skills groups meets on Saturdays and range from elementary school to early high school ages.
Dr. Rivera’s social skills group for older teens/high school ages meets on Wednesday evenings. Likewise, his co-ed transitions group for young adults (ages 18-26) meets on Wednesdays.
These groups are open groups. For more information, please contact Dr. Rivera at 410-671-2289.
Courtney Stevenson, LCSW is currently running interpersonal groups for girls in middle school and high school (elementary school age groups for girls are now forming). Ms. Stevenson’s girls’ groups incorporate interpersonal skills, coping skills training, boundaries of social media, DBT skills, and relaxation training. These groups are open groups. For more information, please contact Courtney Stevenson at 410-671-2289.
Why group counseling? Fundamentally, social life begins at birth and the family group establishes the foundations for individual and group relationships. The developing infant reacts to noises from outside, such as the mother’s/caregiver’s voice, the pitch and rhythm; and voices of others. Along with innate temperament, infants are born with some preconception of the existence of others, and this is met by the reality of the family group into which they are born. Keeping that thought in mind, the rest of human life is spent in various social groups. We progress and gradually extend out from the family base to include the wider family and family friends (For example: playing at the park, nursery school, chums, peers, cliques, middle school, high school, college, adult work groups, leisure groups, and intimate relationships). Although an individual’s group experience may vary and only encompass two to three groups at any given time (i.e., high school, family, and church) we develop different sides of our selves. For example, we may behave one way with our parents and show a different side with our peers at school or work. Some advantages of group counseling
For children or adolescents who may have difficulties with making or keeping friends, who are bullies or being bullied, withdrawn, isolative, behaviorally acting out, engaging in risk taking behaviors such as using drugs and/or alcohol, or feeling depressed may benefit from group counseling. Group counseling can offer a safe, supportive and empathic setting where the counselor determines the boundaries and limits. Group provides an opportunity for children and adolescents immediate acceptance, first by the counselor and then, in time, by other group members. The safe setting provides an opportunity to learn how to make friends and, for many children and adolescents, their first experience of feeling wanted and important to the life of a group.
Children and adolescents within the group are given the chance to see the consequences of their own behavior and to see the impact of others’ behavior upon themselves. This is because the group experience is shared; children and adolescents have an opportunity to see not only the consequences of their own projections (a person’s beliefs, values, and emotions ascribed to another), but also how they may be vulnerable to the projections of others. For example, the bullied child may be helped to see how and why they may subtly provoke others to bully.
Being in the company of children and adolescents with different personalities, and seeing their weaknesses and strengths, enables children and adolescents to rediscover aspects of themselves that have been suppressed, and to value the positive qualities they already have, thus enhancing a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem.
Each member of the group will acquire a memory of all those events that have a significant impact on the life of the group. This is particularly helpful for those children who have been distressed by their own life experiences and seem unable to retain or learn new coping styles, and those children who deny responsibility for their own actions. Consequently, in individual counseling, experiences and events can be denied and responsibility refused, but in the group it is more difficult, over time, to deny experiences that the rest of the group insists have occurred.
One of the most rewarding aspects of group counseling is that it facilitates the exploration of a number of relationships and offers different examples of behavior and different perspectives on situations. This is particularly helpful for children and adolescents who have little self-reflection. Likewise, especially for adolescents, group processes develops the appreciation that personal problems are not unique and therefore may help them self-disclose.
Groups typically run for one year at a minimum – a realistic period in which sustainable development is possible. Many children and adolescents make enormous progress within this period of one year (Reid, 1999).
In general, the groups composition is made up of 4-6 members; however, it is important to recognize that these parameters may change due to individuals’ developmental level, grade, age, and natural absenteeism or unforeseen group processes.
Groups will tend to be heterogeneous (varied age and problems/concerns). This provides a wide range of personalities and presenting problems, which increases the possibilities of different identifications for each child and adolescent.
- Bloomquist, M.L. 1996. Skills training for children with behavior disorders: A parent and therapist guidebook. The Guilford Press. New York.
- Reid, S. 1999. The group as a healing whole: Group psychotherapy with children and adolescents. In The handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:
- Psychoanalytic Approaches. Routledge, London.