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Category Archives: Concurrent Parent and Child Therapy Groups

I’ve had a lot of questions come up as a result of the article about anxiety that I wrote for the newsletter. It’s obvious this hits close to home for a lot of our families. In case you didn’t get a chance to see the Q & A about the group, I am posting it here. Please don’t hesitate to email or call our offices if you have additional questions. If you want to sign up for the info session I’m holding this Saturday at noon at our Fairfax office, please fill out this form:

Why did you decide to lead a group to help kids deal with anxiety?
Anxiety is the number one psychological problem impacting children and teens today. For over 30 years, I have worked with clients of all ages who suffer from it. In some cases, it is debilitating. It is human nature to avoid things that make us uncomfortable. With anxiety, this is especially true. Anyone who has had a panic attack can speak to the desire to avoid it at all costs. Here is the tricky part; the worst thing you can do for anxiety is to avoid the cause of it. Therein lies the hard work. Studies indicate that one-on-one therapy with anxious children is very beneficial, but they also strongly recommend the treatment of anxiety needs to involve family members. At In Step, we specialize in group therapy because we know that groups offer children and their parents the support, modeling, learning, and practice needed for children to make significant change.
As a parent, how will I be involved in the group?
Every group we do at In Step involves the parents. For some, you get feedback at the end of each group session. For our Stepping Stones groups, you are in a concurrent group to learn the skills they need to be social skills coaches.
For this anxiety group, we will work through three modules to address anxiety as it pertains to the body, thoughts, and behaviors. At the beginning of each module, you will meet to learn about the issues your child will be working on in the coming weeks. You will be given tools to practice the techniques and will have the opportunity to work on them with me, my co-leader, and other parents. This process will lay the groundwork to foster success at home.
What can participants hope to gain from being a group member?
That’s the big question. Always. I guess I would start by saying that my belief is that change happens slowly, with practice, support and consistency. We are going to work in group for 14 weeks on behaviors that have had years to develop. The good news is that kids are spongy and by agreeing to participate, our parents are dedicated.
Our goals are going to be to help the children understand their feelings, thoughts and symptoms. Then we approach them with tools like relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring and exposure therapy.
As the parent of an anxious child, you live with daily doubts about things like when to push her to go to school with a stomachache and when to let her stay home. Parents will work in this group to get a better understanding of how their child is feeling and what actions they can take together to improve the quality of their family life.

Posted in Anxiety in Children, Concurrent Parent and Child Therapy Groups, Group Therapy, Resiliency, School Anxiety | Comments off

Over the years, I have been privy to a lot of stories from the parents of kids in group. Sometimes the information comes by way of the group leaders and other times from the parents themselves. The other day, I was in the waiting room, in between meetings, and a mom was there waiting for her daughter, Blythe (not her real name) to come out of her final middle school girls group. I Introduced myself and her mom shared with me that their family had lived abroad, and while they were away Blythe had a rough go of it.  She was bullied a lot in her elementary school and when the family returned to the States at the beginning of the 2013/14 school year, Blythe was terrified to begin middle school here.  She was anticipating the worst from her peers.  She was absolutely certain the kids (particularly the girls) in middle school would be even bigger and meaner than the kids in her elementary school abroad.

This negative self talk caused Blythe to be withdrawn, painfully shy, and self-conscious. When she first joined our middle school girls’ group, she was reluctant to participate and discouraged by her inability to make real connections with other girls.  She barely even spoke the first couple of groups.  Mom was worried about whether she would be able to make any real progress. As her daughter became more comfortable with the girls in the group, she began to trust them and herself.  All week long, Blythe looked forward to seeing her friends from group.  She could talk to them about her fears and practice with them ways to venture out socially with her peers in middle school.

This past spring Blythe did something remarkable.  She successfully ran for a student council position at school.  This formally shy, insecure girl had the courage to put herself out there in the public eye.  Almost in disbelief herself, her Mom told me, “She had to personally ask each student for their support to collect enough signatures to allow her to run!”

I wanted to talk more with Blythe’s mom, but before I had the chance, the group ended, and all the girls returned to the waiting room.  They were giggling and talking as they waited for their parents to finish feedback with the group leader. Looking at them objectively, the girls appeared so relaxed and comfortable with each other, I don’t think anyone would describe this group of girls as shy and insecure. For me, it was a moment of great satisfaction being able to offer this kind of support to these girls and their families.

Posted in Anxiety in Teenagers, Communication, Concurrent Parent and Child Therapy Groups, Middle School, School Anxiety, Social Skill Development | Comments off