Depending on the nature of your child’s challenges, group therapy can be an ideal choice for addressing your child’s concerns and making positive changes in your child’s life. Group therapy may look different depending on a variety of factors including the ages and developmental levels of the attendees, the issues that various children have and the purpose of the therapy program as developed by the therapist.
Groups may be designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety or chronic pain. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a parent, a sibling or friend.
Your child may find joining a group of strangers intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Psychologists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.
Groups can act as a sounding board
Other members of the group often help your child come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge and hold your child accountable along the way.
Regularly talking and listening to others also helps your child put his own problems in perspective. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they’re going through, and realize you’re not alone.
Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. Children have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other children tackle problems and make positive changes, your child can discover a whole range of strategies for facing concerns.
While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Group therapy sessions are led by one or more psychologists with specialized training, who teach group members proven strategies for managing specific problems. That expert guidance can help your child make the most of the group therapy experience.
- All groups meet for one hour, once a week.
- Regular attendance of group sessions is a requirement, with no more than one or two absences allowed. This ensures continuity of sessions and allows skills to be built over sessions. If your child misses multiple sessions, he or she may be asked to sit out until the next running of the group.
- Depending on the group, group size may vary from 4-12 clients at any time.
- All groups are led or co-led by the highly qualified staff at Keystone, including psychologists, post-doctoral residents, mental health interns, psychological assistants, BCBAs, BCaBAs and behavior therapists.
- If a group that is currently running is full, your child will be put on the wait list for the next time the group runs.
Currently, Keystone is offering the following therapy groups:
- 8-Week Beginning Social Skills Group – Wednesdays; Winter Round begins February 2017; led by Keri Franklin, Psy.D.
- An eight-week group focusing on getting children ready to play well with others and succeed in their social environment
- For children between the ages of 5-8 years old who are able to walk/transport independently to group from reception and minimally maintain attention, have minimal expressive communication skills and are able to participate minimally in group without significant disruption.
- Skills targeted in this group include appropriate communication with peers, emotional identification and self-regulation, ability to gain attention appropriately, how to meet new people, how to share and take turns, good sportsmanship, conflict resolution and establishing and maintaining personal boundaries
- 8-Week Intermediate Social Skills Group – Wednesdays; Winter Round begins February 2017; led by Yadira Torres, Psy.D.
- An eight-week social skills group aimed at elementary-aged children who need help and guidance with making and keeping friends, as well as understanding boundaries and emotional skills needed to handle social situations
- For children between the ages of 8-12 years old who meet the following criteria: have adequate expressive communication skills and are able to participate minimally in group without significant disruption
- Topics include what communication is, how to make and keep friends, what a friend is, establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries, hygiene, good sportsmanship, perspective taking, understanding facial expressions and body language, and building conversation.
- 8-Week Advanced Social Skills Group – Mondays, Jan. 16 – March 6 2017; led by Andrew Scherbarth, ph.D., BCBA-D
- An eight-week group focused on pre-teens and adolescents who need help and guidance with making and keeping friends, as well as age-appropriate emotional skills needed to handle social situations
- Appropriate for pre-teens and adolescents between the ages of 12-16 years old
- Skills targeted in this group include what social skills are and why they are important, levels of friendship, appropriate boundaries, emotional awareness of self and others, perspective taking, decoding body language, problem solving and conversations.
- Other Group Therapy Opportunities – will start based on sufficient enrollment to from a group
- 8-Week Worry Busters Group: Teaches children 6-10 years old the skills needed to overcome anxiety and worries such as learning about feelings, identifying scary situations, building the coping skills to handle things independently when worries or fears come up and practicing their new skill
- 8-Week Anger Management Group: Teaches children 8-12 years old the skills needed to manage anger and helps them develop appropriate, alternative coping skills such as identifying anger triggers, monitoring anger, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, imagery and problem solving
- 12-Week Managing Deployment Group: Guides youth 8-12 years old through the unique challenges of having an immediate family member deployed or about to leave for military deployment by teaching skills such as emotion training, management of negative emotions, learning coping strategies, building connections with similar children and identifying how to manage living without the deployed family member, as well as how to prepare for the return of their loved one
- 10-Week Children of Divorce Group: Uses Children of Divorce Intervention Program curriculum to help children 6-8 years old increase their ability to identify and appropriately express divorce/separation related feelings, reduce worry and anxiety about family circumstances and build confidence by teaching coping and problem-solving skills.
If you feel that your child might benefit from participation in a group therapy program, but do not see a group that matches your child’s needs and characteristics, please let your Keystone therapist know or contact us online, email email@example.com or call 904.619.6071
American Psychological Association – Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development – Divorce and Separation