Summer Counseling Camps Have Arrived!!!
Written by Rachel Ealy, M.Ed, LPC-Intern
Child and Adolescent Counselor
Does your child struggle with back to school jitters? Is your child entering kindergarten next year and unsure of what to expect? Or, would you like your child to freshen up on some skills before returning to school? Heights Family Counseling’s child and adolescent therapists, Rachel Ealy and Kristin Tallackson, are leading a school readiness camp this summer!
This 5-day camp is offered Monday, July 29th through Friday August 2nd from 10am-11:15am. It is open to children entering kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade.
What your child will gain from attending this camp:
· Communication skills such as introducing oneself and asking for help
· How to listen with your whole body
· What to expect at school
· Empathy and perspective taking skills
· Expected and unexpected behavior at school
· Frustration tolerance skills
· Mindful calming strategies
o Your child will learn and practice one new mindful calming strategy each day for a total of 5 strategies to add to their toolbox.
What is group counseling?
Group counseling is a setting in which, typically, 4-6 children gather with a common need or concern. There are many different types of groups, such as process groups, cognitive behavioral therapy groups, and social skills groups. Our school readiness camp is a social skills group format where the children will have the opportunity to learn and practice skills with their peers.
At this point you are probably wondering why I keep saying camp, but now I am telling you about counseling groups. Counseling groups are typically held once a week for 6-8 weeks. The distinction is that our school readiness camp will be held every day for 5 days straight.
Our camp is designed to be interactive and fun in order to keep the children engaged and excited about school, as well as counseling. The best part about group counseling is that the children are interacting with and learning from other children their age. This facilitates the main goals of the group listed above in a way that individual counseling cannot. Children can learn so much from one another, which is why I would highly recommend group counseling as a supplement to individual counseling.
Benefits of group counseling
Group counseling helps build self-confidence, self-esteem, and social interaction skills due to the ability to work through challenges together as a group. This allows the children to relate and connect with one another, as well as learn how to empathize.
Group counseling also offers support from like-minded peers. Let’s face it; growing up is hard and many children feel isolated and alone with their struggles. Group counseling fosters open communication, talking about one’s own struggles, and hearing that others struggle with the same things they do.
One of the major and life-long benefits to group counseling is relationship building. Your child will have to opportunity to meet other children from different schools and different areas around Houston. They will not only have the opportunity to make friends in the group, but their friendship making skills will improve as a result of group work.
Your child will learn and practice new skills that will help them not only be successful in school, but life in general. The group setting provides the opportunity for children to learn how to talk about their emotions with their peers. Many children that I work with individually express concern about sharing their emotions with their peers and a fear of rejection if they talk about how they are feeling. The group setting provides a safe environment to practice and engage with their peers on a deeper level.
One meta-analysis of 56 studies showed that children and adolescents who attended group therapy improved at the end of therapy compared to 73% of those who did not attend group therapy (Hurley, 2018).
How to talk to your child about group counseling
My policy is to always be open and honest with your child. Modeling this behavior for your child instills the value of being open and honest in relationships. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your child about attending counseling or group therapy.
1. Make sure to bring up with subject when everyone is calm
This helps to normalize counseling and to avoid making it feel like a punishment. If you are to bring up counseling during or after conflict, your child may feel like it is a punishment.
2. Explain the group to your child
Talk to your child about what they will gain from attending the group including the benefits of group counseling. Share with them the length of the group and the time of day. Explain that group counseling is a safe place to express your concerns while learning new skills to be successful in school. If your child is worried about the first day of school or unsure of what to expect, you may say something to the effect of, “we know someone named Ms. Rachel and Mrs. Kristin who work with kids to help them better understand their feelings and to help make adjusting to your first day of school fun!” Ask if they have any questions for you or any questions that you can ask the counselor before the start of the group. Let them know that you will be meeting with, or have already met with, one of their counselors before the first group session to make sure that the group is a good fit. Feel free to email Kristin or me with any questions as well.
3. Listen and empathize
Let your child know that you are available to listen to their concerns and/or excitement about joining the group. Try not to interrupt and simply listen as they talk. Empathize with them and validate any feelings that come up. For example, “I understand that joining a group and meeting new people can be scary” or “I hear you saying that you are so excited to meet new people but that you are nervous too, is that right?”
4. Familiarize your child with who they will be working with
It may help to show your child a picture of their counselors prior to the first meeting. Going in to the first group session knowing a little bit about their counselors can help ease their nerves. Visit us a heightsfamilycounseling.com or click the link here to meet our team.
How to sign up
You can call our office at 713-380-1151 to sign up for our school readiness camp. Our wonderful intake specialist, Helena, will guide you through the process of getting your child set up. You can also email Rachel or Kristin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com We are happy to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to answer any questions that you may have about the camp. During the parent-only intake, your counselor will gather information about your child in order to get to know your child and to makes sure that the camp is a good fit.
Hurley, K. (2018). Group therapy for kids: What it is, how they can benefit, and when not to send your child to group therapy. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/group-therapy-children