Group Therapy (Social Skills, School Transitions, Procrastination)

GROUP #1- Preparing For School Transitions: A Processing Group (Males Only)

a) Transitioning From High School to College

High school students define themselves, at least in part, by their surroundings. When these surroundings change, it can be disorienting. The freshman college student has to adjust to being away from home and separating from old friends. They may become disillusioned when academic, social and personal expectations are not met. The independence that they had dreamed about now seems a little frightening. They may feel lost and alone.

b) Transitioning From Junior High to High School

Students transitioning from 8th grade to high school may be stressed at all the new changes that are occurring. They may feel that is difficult to transition logistically or establish a routine. They also are more apt to feel social isolation or the feeling of being lost and not connected.

Here are some goals of the group:

  • To actively listen and connect with others in the group by relating, validating and offering new perspectives
  • To learn new approaches of how to cope with these changes. (eg. mindfulness, visualization, safe place, cognitive restructuring) by figuring out what works for you and what does not
  • To better plan out what to expect and how you will react in the moment and day-to-day once the transition occurs
  • Identifying extreme thinking and how to re-frame to something more practical
  • To emphasize the general theme that our brain often tricks us to make us fear the worse, when it’s often not as bad as we make it out to be
  • The importance of developing a strong support system and allowing the group to be a safe and confidential place to discuss fears, openly ask questions, and to be vulnerable
  • Positive-self talk regarding the transition
  • To list all potential changes and to process thoughts, fears and solutions as a group
  • To find out out the different levels of concern from each individual in the group regarding the transition, and why some people differ
  • To create SMART goals to provide a focus for change, which include short term goals, process goals, and long term goals

Group #2- Effective Social Skills (Adolescent Males Only)

Adolescents can learn important skills that they’ll use the rest of their lives. This includes learning how to:

  • Greet others
  • Start a conversation
  • Respond to others
  • Maintain a conversation
  • Share and take turns
  • Ask for Help

Social skills groups are best for kids who aren’t developing social skills as quickly as their peers. This may include kids with ADHD, who can be too active and physical in their play. It may include kids with nonverbal learning disabilities, who may have trouble picking up on social cues, like body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. It may also include kids with social communication challenges and other types of learning or behavior issues.

This is mainly a skills group that will involve the following:

  • Role Plays
  • Picking up on Social Cues
  • Body Language Awareness
  • Tone of Voice Awareness
  • Active Listening
  • How To Ask Questions to connect
  • “I” statements
  • Conflict resolution
  • Making plans with friends on the weekend
  • Connecting in the classroom with teachers and students
  • Connecting with coaches on the athletic field or court.

GROUP #3 – How to Combat Procrastination (Adolescent Males Only)

Is your child procrastinating and not doing their work? Perhaps they’re playing video games or on social media too much? Cramming in everything the night before?

This is both a processing group and skills group.

It is best to treat procrastination as the “C” – the consequence of an Activating event and Belief. The key thing is to discover what the individual said to himself at the time in order to justify the procrastination.

The anticipated discomfort of starting the task preempts the anticipated feeling “great.” In other words, emotional disturbance still blocks the way to action.

The key thing here is that focusing on the practical problem before the emotional problems may result in the individual neglecting to work on the emotional issues that caused the procrastination in the first place. So, this one task may get done, but the next task may not, as the emotional disturbance continues to block the way to action.

Once we have developed the awareness for the need for change, we have to set a goal that is reasonable, concrete and manageable. Too often, our goals are expressed as distant, abstract constructs such as “I want to succeed at this task.” Instead, we need to construct a concrete, specific statement of what we can do in the present to achieve our long-term goals. In short, we need to articulate an implementation intention.

Commitment

A goal statement in itself doesn’t mean that you’re committed to carrying out the hard work necessary to achieve your goal. Self- change can feel like a 24/7 proposition. If clients want to make gains, they need to embrace the discomfort of working on their problem now in order to feel relatively comfortable later about continuing the work of change.

This work includes disputing irrational beliefs and developing a rational alternative statement in its place. This rational statement should become the individual’s mantra to keep the focus on change. What’s particularly important here is that your statement is not a “I’ll try to . . .” type of statement. It’s not what you’ll try to do, it’s what you’ll actually do!

A way to teach clients the difference between trying and doing is to ask them if at the end of the session they will try to leave the room or actually leave it. Trying will keep them in the room indefinitely while doing means they will have left it in seconds.

Persistence

Self change requires strong determination as well as persistent work and practice to carry out this determination. Such persistence is enabled with the development of a “maintenance message” about your responsibility to protect your progress from unconscious habits.

You need a maintenance message like “My time is precious. Don’t waste it!” I think that this could apply to anyone. It’s simply an existential fact of life.

To change a behavioural pattern like procrastination requires work, and typically lots of it. The problem of avoiding work can only be solved by doing more work. Which is quite ironic. This includes:

  • Uncovering the irrational beliefs that initiate and sustain the procrastination, disputing these beliefs, developing goals, and persisting in the hard work of self change.

It’s so simple, yet so important, to “just get started.” Each moment requires that commitment to move ahead—just get started.

Ryan Long, MSW, LICSW

ryan@ryanlonglicsw.com

202-875-1495

verified by Psychology Today

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