Blossom Tree Counselling friendship groups are back for fall 2022! These groups will not be located at the Blossom Tree Counselling office, we have arranged a separate facility that will accommodate the friendship groups. This year we are using the Kin Hut at Departure Bay beach. We have 4 groups starting in September - two on Wednesday's at 3:15- to 4:15, and 4:30-5:30 and two on Friday's from 3:15-4:15, and 4:30-5:30. Each group will run for an hour, with the first 15 - 20 minutes of topic discussion, remaining time spent on facilitated social activities.
We are asking parents to let us know their preferred date and time and then we will arrange the groups based on the ages and times that most people can make.
Oftentimes, our kids have not had a chance to really get a handle on how to manage themselves in social situations ESPECIALLY after coming out of the pandemic when so many social opportunities haven't happened. The pandemic has really impacted social opportunities for many kids, and the schools often do not have resources on hand during recess breaks to sufficiently support kids in working through social challenges. And while kids may go to sports or activities with other kids, these activities are structured and don't allow for free range social interactions. The goal of our friendship skills groups is to help support kids who struggle with the following:
Initiating friendships - how do I make a friend
Sustaining friendships - how do I be a good friend
Working through conflict with friends - how do I keep a friend
I started these groups after being very frustrated by a lack of services for kids without a diagnosis. I also found that I was frequently getting requests for individual services to children and youth who needed to be connected to an outside service provider to maintain their H designation at school, which enables them to have EA support in order to be successful in the classroom. Many of these kids did not need individual services, they are lovely little people that shine when individual attention is focused on them during their play therapy time and generally the challenges they struggle with are ones that are a result of their ADHD diagnosis or just where they are at in their innate wiring and development. Play therapy is not going to change their classroom noise, smell or executive dysfunction challenges. In the moment supports in their classroom is what they need. However, these are the mandates of our government systems and I believed there had to be another way to provide services that would help these kid keep their designation as well as provide some helpful skills. Enter - friendship skills groups.
ADHD and differently wired kids often struggle with social interactions. Their impulsivity can be misinterpreted as rude, their hyper fixation can be interpreted as not caring about others and their distractability and forgetfulness means they might let down their peers or come across as not caring. These friendship skills groups help kids slow down their social interactions, stop and think about scenarios and practice social skills during facilitated group activities. A facilitator is able to stop and point out to kids what is happening in the moment, and coach them on how to handle things differently.
Our friendship skills groups have also been a much needed resource for kids who are slow to warm up and struggle to use their voice in peer interactions. Kids who experience social anxiety need opportunities to practice going into social situations and challenge their social anxiety. Kids who only have one friend and worry about what to do if that one friend isn't at school or worry if they lose their one friend can benefit from participating in a friendship group to help develop the skills needed to make new friends.
All groups require a prescreening interview first to determine suitability and fit. This will be an hour intake and can be done online or in person with the primary parent/guardian and the cost is $60. All group sessions are $40 per session.
This year, we have Kristen Buckland facilitating our groups and is able to provide parent support as well. Kristen is completing her practicum for her master's degree in counselling and will be available to meet with the parents to help them on coaching their children in social situations. Using the fantastic resource "Why will no one play with me" by Caroline Maguire, we want to go a step further with our friendship groups, and help the parents of these kids learn how to step in, support and step back in order to build upon the skills the kids are learning in the group. This is optional for parents who are needing more support in what to do in these tricky situations. This will be discussed further during the intake and is not mandatory.
Due to our limited spaces available, we are prioritizing space to children and youth who do not have access to any other social skills program.
We will not be accepting participants who are physically and verbally aggressive, violent, and run away from caregivers. These are concerns that should be addressed in indivual therapy.
Our friendship groups focus on
- Initiating, developing and maintaining friendships
- Learning conversation skills
- Social nuance skills like personal space, tone of voice, using humour appropriately
- Understanding feelings and how to handle frustrations with peers