Groups

We at CABC are firm believers in group cognitive behavioral therapy (GCBT). Research has consistently shown that GCBT is an effective method for treating a variety of mental disorders. We have found that GCBT can be as effective and in some cases, more effective than individual treatment alone. GCBT is a skills-based treatment that aims to educate patients on the fundamentals of behavioral change and anxiety reduction while allowing us to harness the power of observational learning (learning by watching others change their behavior and reduce their anxiety), allowing for a shared experience and a feeling of belonging, and goal setting with the group holding individual members gently accountable for meeting their own goals.

Current Groups

Group CBT for Anxiety (Rockville, MD)
High School Students:
Wednesdays from 5:00-6:30pm

Group CBT for Anxiety (McLean, VA)
High School Students:
Mondays 5:30-7:00 pm

Emerging Adult Group (Rockville, MD)
Ages 18 to Mid-twenties:
Tuesdays 4:00-5:30

Parent Primer Group (McLean, VA)
Parents:
Wednesdays 7:30-8:30 pm

The following are descriptions of groups offered at CABC:

Parenting an Anxious Child

Parenting a child with an anxiety or related disorder can be confusing and frustrating. Traditional parenting strategies such as reassuring a child when he or she is anxious can serve to reinforce and thereby strengthen the child’s anxiety. Parents often struggle with knowing how to respond to their child’s anxiety, such as when to “push” a child to do something that makes them anxious and when to allow a child to avoid the situation, or differentiating between “real” anxiety and defiant behavior.

Thankfully, a large body of scientific knowledge has identified evidence-based skills and techniques that parents can use to help their child overcome his or her anxiety disorder(s). Many of these techniques are counter-intuitive and involve the use of positive reinforcement to build specific coping skills and redirecting or ignoring specific anxiety-based behaviors.

CABC offers an 8-week parents training group to outline these specific, concrete parenting skills. The group meets for 90-minutes once per week for eight weeks. The group covers:

  • The nature of fear acquisition, maintenance, and extinction
  • How avoidance and fear are teammates
  • The nature of the coping skills that are effective in dealing with high levels of anxiety and how to help children to confront their anxiety in a productive fashion
  • The problematic role of reassurance and other safety behaviors and how to minimize them
  • How to identify which behaviors to respond to and which to ignore
  • How to develop a behavioral reinforcement system to assist the child

In addition, the parents in the group learn a great deal from each other, as each parents brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group.

School Refusal Groups

We offer middle school and high school groups for adolescents experiencing anxiety-based school refusal. Many kids experiencing this phenomenon do not know any other peers going through it and often feel “different” and “excluded” because of the anxiety and school refusal. The groups are designed to address these concerns by including kids who are in various stages of re-entry into school. We have found that the modeling by same-aged peers who are showing concrete evidence that this problem can be treated effectively is invaluable. Also, meeting other talented kids who experiencing the same difficulty can be eye opening and works to de-stigmatize the experience. In other words, they are in a room full of same-aged peers who “get it” and the kids can feel understood without needing to explain their situation.

In the groups we begin by reviewing the week and how effective the child is in meeting the goals that he/she set for his/herself the previous week. We offer support for anyone struggling and celebrate anyone’s success. We also review specific non-avoidant coping skills each week, help with problem solving, and then end with the kids setting a goal for themselves that are measurable and achievable within one week.

 

Emerging Adult Group

Navigating new responsibilities and expectations and embarking toward emotional and financial independence are primary challenges in an emerging adult. These tasks become exponentially more challenging when these changes occur in the context of an anxiety disorder.

The principal benefit of group therapy is in the reinforcement that no one is alone, that there are other people with the same or similar issues. Struggling emerging adults benefit from peer-based supports and CBT-based group interventions to achieve necessary developmental goals.

In this group, members can expect to gain the following:

  • Peer support to help re-frame thoughts and feelings to work toward resolution
  • Reduce and replace avoidant coping patterns with effective strategies for tackling challenges
  • Supportive accountability for identifying and achieving weekly goals
  • Strategies for developing independent living skills
  • Skills for managing and resolving social and familial conflicts

Parent Primer Group for Parenting an Anxious Child

Day/Time: Wednesday, 7:30-8:30 pm

Duration: Six Sessions

Cost: $100 per session

Group Leader: Dr. Taylor Wilmer, PhD

Parenting a child with anxiety can be confusing and frustrating. Traditional parenting strategies, such as reassuring a child when they are anxious, can backfire and may actually make anxiety worse. Parents often struggle with knowing how to respond to their child’s anxiety, such as when to “push” a child to do something that makes them anxious and when to allow a child to avoid the situation, or how to differentiate between “real” anxiety and defiant behavior.

This “parent primer” group is designed to be a brief but impactful introduction to evidence-based skills and strategies that parents can use to help their child manage their anxiety. The group meets for 60-minute sessions once per week, for six weeks. Admission to the group is rolling, allowing parents who are new to the group an opportunity to learn from parents who have already had experience applying the techniques with their child.

Group sessions will cover:

  • Understanding your child’s anxious responses.
  • Specific statements to support your child when they are anxious.
  • Identifying and reducing accommodation of anxiety at home.
  • Learning how to respond to problem behaviors and encourage positive behaviors.
  • Developing a behavior plan to reinforce positive behaviors.

If you are interested, contact Dr. Taylor Wilmer (drwilmer@changeanxiety.com) for more information.

Group CBT for Anxiety (McLean, VA)

Start Date: February 1, 2021

Day/Time: Monday 5:30-7:00 pm

Duration: 12 weekly sessions

Cost: $140 per session

Group Leaders: Dr. Monique Reynolds and Dr. Taylor Wilmer

We are pleased to offer a group-based cognitive-behavioral therapy for high schoolers with anxiety and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The group will provide skills and experiences to youth that are designed to reduce unwanted fear, anxiety, and OCD symptoms. The skills will help teens learn to better manage situations that are maintaining their anxiety and take steps towards leading happier and healthier lives. 

Group sessions will incorporate:

  • education about emotions (such as fear, anxiety, sadness or anger)
  • strategies to increase mindfulness and relaxation
  • help with identifying and challenging problematic thoughts
  • support for changing problematic behaviors when anxious

Group members will have the added benefit of being supported by and learning from each other. Meeting peers who are experiencing similar difficulties can help teens feel like they are not alone while also increasing motivation to participate in therapy.

If you are interested in learning more about this group or enrolling your teen, please contact Dr. Taylor Wilmer at drwilmer@changeanxiety.com.