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. 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.
Social Effectiveness Therapy Groups
Social Effectiveness Therapy for Children (SET-C) is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). The group therapy component utilizes a skills acquisition model in which specific social skills that are commonly difficult for children and teens are taught through psychoeducation, modeling, and behavioral rehearsal. Social skills that are covered include: recognizing social cues, initiating conversations, maintaining conversations, joining groups, extending invitations, giving and receiving compliments, speaking on the telephone, proper assertiveness with peers and authority figures, and resisting peer pressure.
Social Effectiveness Therapy Groups for Adults (SET-A) also utilizes a skills acquisition model in which specific social skills that are commonly difficult for adults living with social anxiety. The group lasts for 12 weeks with 90-minute weekly sessions in which a series of social skills are covered. Social skills covered in the group include recognizing social cues, initiating conversations, maintaining conversations, joining groups, heterosocial interactions, assertiveness with peers and authority figures, phone skills, and public speaking skills.
Current and Upcoming Group Sessions*
Parent Management Training
Social Effectiveness Therapy
For Middle School Students:
Date and Time TBD
For High School Students:
Thursdays from 3:30-5:00pm
School Refusal Group
For High School Students:
Thursdays 4:30-6:00pm, 6:00-7:30pm
Group CBT for Anxiety
For High School Students:
Wednesdays from 5:00-6:30pm
Selective Mutism Group
For Elementary School Students:
Thursdays from 3:00-4:00pm
*All start dates/times are anticipated and are subject to change.