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Keys to Starting and Facilitating Mental Health Support Grou

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Katie Mendez

on 3 November 2013

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Transcript of Keys to Starting and Facilitating Mental Health Support Grou

4. Facilitate your groups:
After details have been worked out, begin facilitating your group sessions.
Keys to Starting and Facilitating Mental Health Support Groups
Amy Kaiser and Katie Mendez-Professional School Counselors
Our Lady of Lourdes School in Columbia, MO
Email us: akaiser@ollisk8.org or kmendez@ollisk8.org
Survey Parents:
Are there certain diagnoses or topics about which parents feel they need more support?
Where and when will your group(s) be held? How will you make parents aware of the group(s). How often will you facilitate the group(s)? How many groups will you facilitate each year? Will they be open or closed in format?
2. Analyze data and collaborate with colleagues.
3. Plan group format and details.
5. Conduct surveys at the end of the groups or at the end of the year, depending on the format of your group(s).
1. Conduct Needs Assessments:
Where do the needs lie?
Survey School Faculty:
Are there specific issues or concerns that teachers see as more prominent than others?
Survey School Faculty:
Determine the thoughts of the school faculty regarding the group's role in student achievement, parent involvement, and increased parental support.
Survey Group Members:
Determine the perceived effectiveness of the group(s) from a parent perspective. It may be helpful to allow space at the end of the survey for suggestions.
Using the numbers from the assessments, determine several topics about which your school community could most benefit from expertise and advice.
What research tell us about the importance of parent involvement and parent support groups:

Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools. Moreover, the more intensely parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effects (Michigan Department of Education, 2002). Now is the time to act. School personnel must utilize the current pressures in education to establish a collaborative relationship with parents (Miller & Hudson, 1994). This collaborative relationship can open the door to a more comprehsensive school/parent relationship with parents who feel supported by school personnel and who are better equipped to support their children in their academic, social, and emotional endeavors (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).

From the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement, Standards II, III, and VI are directly reflected in our model of Parent Support Groups. These standards encourage schools to promote and support parenting skills, promote the notion that parents play an integral role in assisting student learning, and provide suggestions for community resources that are used to strengthen schools, families, and student learning (Michigan Department of Education, 2002).

Parent Support Groups can be used to provide information and strategies to parents. They can alleviate stress during the challenges of raising children (Miller & Hudson, 1994). They can also provide an avenue for parents to share their experiences and information with other parents. Finally, parent-based support groups help parents become more effective in the development and implementation of programs that promote their child's academic success.

Plan group sessions:
Determine how individual sessions will be planned. Will you come with specific topics, will it be open to discuss topics deemed important by parent members, or will it be a combination of the two?
Provide parents with quick surveys at the end of each group to determine the focus of the next session. Make changes to format if necessary.
What parents tell us about the importance of these types of groups:
"In the early years before our son was officially diagnosed as ADHD, and immediately afterward, it was invaluable to have a parent group available to talk about our child in school. Thank you for all the great support." ~5th grade parent

What teachers tell us about the importance of this type of parent support:
"Our school's ADHD Support Group provides support for parents as well as teachers. When attending these meetings, I have the opportunity to hear what parents cope with at home, and this helps guide my support at school. For example, knowing a student typically has little sleep each night helps me understand why many days that student cannot focus to full capacity on lack of sleep as well as being diagnosed with ADHD. It also guides my schedule, as many times students with these diagnoses are losing focus by the end of the school day when the work of the medication has diminished. I need to help these students use class time well so that homework isn't an evening battle. Our Professional School Counselors share research-supported information that provides positive parenting ideas that are helpful for all parents, but especially those with children who struggle with impulsiveness or inattentiveness. Ideas have included scheduling homework, working around busy after-school schedules, calm routines at home for evening and morning, healthy snack ideas, foods for the picky eaters, meals that are prepared in snack sizes for kids with diminished appetites at lunch time, food storage ideas for those healthy options. Amy and Katie have also shared ideas for tools students can use at school to help their busy bodies while their brains attend to learning. These items include fidget toys, using Velcro as a sensory stimulation, using exercise balls instead of chairs, putting bands on chair legs for feet to manipulate, using headphones to block out unnecessary noise, giving choice to students who need to stand rather than sit, etc." Angela Lawler-4th grade teacher
Important resources, websites, and counseling blogs:
>www.schoolcounselor.org-ASCA website
>www.schcounselor.org-Danielle Schultz's Blog (lots of great school counseling information)
>Helping Your Anxious Child by Rapee, Spence, Cobham, and Wignall
>www.additudemag.com-website specific to ADD, provides support for both parents and schools
>The Defiant Child-A Parent's Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder by Dr. Douglas A. Riley
>The Elementary/Middle School Counselor's Survival Guide byJohn J. Schmidt, Ed.D.
>The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz
>The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz
>The ADHD Book of Lists by Sandra F. Rief
>How to Reach & Teach Children with ADD/ADHD by Sandra F. Rief
>Like Sound Through Water by Karen J. Foli
>Driven To Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey
>Delivered From Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey
>Answers To Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey
>The Elephant in the Playroom by Denise Brodey
>Smart But Scattered by Peg Dawson & Richard Guare
>The Family ADHD Solution by Mark Bertin M.D.
>Executive Skills in Children & Adolescents by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
>www.pinterest.com-searches about specific counseling topics are generally helpful
>www.stressfreekids.com-relaxtion curriculum and resources for parents to purchase
Important things to consider:
Understanding our role as counselors in the facilitation and implementation of Support Groups for Parents:
Group counseling is part of an effective comprehensive guidance program. Specifically, we believe group counseling for parents is underutilized and should be included in all comprehensive guidance programs. Although our training is unique to a school setting, we can provide group services to both students and parents based on school and community needs that are reflected in surveys or needs assessments (ASCA Position Statement on Group Counseling, 2008).
As has been mentioned in The Elementary/Middle School Counselor's Survival Guide (2010), parents helping parents can be more effective than one-on-one meetings between parents and counselors. Not only will these groups help parents build positive relationships, but also allows for further identification of necessity and support that could be provided by the professional school counselor.

Steps to Starting
Your Parent
Support Group

American School Counselor Association. (2008). The Professional
School Counselor and Group Counseling. Position Statement.
Henderson, M.T. & Mapp, K.L. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence:
The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections
on Student Achievement. Annual Synthesis. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Michigan Department of Education. (2002). What Research Says
About Parent Involvement in Children's Education in
Relation to Academic Achievement.
Miller, S. P. & Hudson, P. (1994). Using Structured Parent Groups
to Provide Parental Support. Intervention in School and Clinic
29, 3, 151-155.
Schmidt, J.J. (2010) The Elementary/Middle School Counselor's
Survival Guide. 3rd. Ed. John Wiley & Sons Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
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