Small group counseling is an effective and efficient way to deliver tier 2 social/emotional support to students. You will have learned the basics of dynamics and techniques as part of your graduate works but working out the logistics of providing groups in the school setting can be challenging. It is well worth the effort however and with a little planning, you can transform the lives of your students in 30 minutes a week.
- Determining the best time of day for groups is the first challenge. Lunch and recess groups can work well at the elementary level. For older students, try study halls, before/after school or even pulling them from a different period each week.
- Recruit group members through parent needs assessments, teacher referrals or individual students concerns. Once your program is established, the referrals will come with little effort on your part.
- Pre-/post-tests are a great way to measure the efficacy of the intervention. Make every effort to do these individually to increase the chances that students will answer honestly.
- Doing a brief screening to explain the goals of the group, orient to group norms and give the opportunity to ask questions will save a lot of time in the first week or two of the group.
- Create or use a canned curriculum to give your groups structure and direction.
- Group Screening (contributed by Laura Samide, Sept. 2017)
- Process and Progress Individual (contributed by Laura Samide, Sept. 2017)
- Process and Progress Report (contributed by Laura Samide, Sept. 2017)
- Adoption Group Format and resources (contributed by Laura Samide, Sept. 2017)
- Middle School Boys Small Group resources and “Building Champions: a small-group counseling curriculum for boys” by Carol Miller, available from IYI’s Virginia Beall Ball Library, Man Up curriculum presented at ISCA 2017 (responses from Counselor Talk, December 2017)
- Breaking the Boy Code by Dr. Poppy Moon
- Operation: Breaking the Boy Code Lesson Plans
- 7-8 weeks is the ideal time frame for most group topics. This gives time for students to become comfortable and do the work of the group without becoming inured and burned out.
- Even though as a tier 2 intervention, parent permission is not required legally, I always seek parent input and permission at the start of group. I also follow up with parents afterward to determine if they are seeing changes
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