Group Therapy Comes to School

NPR has a story on group therapy that is now offered at Cresthaven Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. that they say is one of several schools that now offer students “training in how to manage emotions, handle stress and improve interpersonal relationships.”

This is social-emotional learning on steroids.

An excerpt:

At Cresthaven, some fifth-graders like B. get an intensive 12 weeks of such training, a course called the Resilience Builder Program. Created by psychologist Mary Alvord, it’s a form of group therapy designed to help students who are struggling with trauma or cognitive disorders — or everyday anxiety caused by things like bullying or moving schools..

“I think it’s so critical that kids know they have the power to make changes. While we can’t control everything about our lives, we can control many facets,” Alvord says.

If students can learn this kind of resilience, the ability to adapt to emotional challenges, she says, “I think the whole world gets better.”

Alvord offered the program to Cresthaven on a pro-bono basis.

When Alvord offered to bring the Resilience Builder Program to Cresthaven pro bono as part of a research project, Sklias selected a group of students she thought could benefit from it. It has been used especially with students dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety or trauma — officially, students with “social competence deficits.” She met with parents, and many agreed to sign up their kids.

Not quite out of the goodness of her heart, the students who now participate are now part of a research project. Also, while the school did the group recruitment and did get parental consent for student participation, one has to wonder how much data on students’ social competencies did the principal have to access before recruiting students. Was that data collected with parental consent?

I’m sure there are lots of students who can benefit from group therapy, especially those dealing with trauma, but this is just another example of schools expanding beyond their primary mandate to educate students on academic subjects.

Read the whole article.