Happy Independence Day! Hope your 4th of July was safe, fun and restful! For this month’s post, I want to write a bit about a new boys counseling group I started last spring called Goals Make the Man.
Boys Counseling Group: Goals Make the Man
So last spring I decided to try a new type of counseling support group- a boys counseling group! I wanted to target our most disadvantaged boys who seem to spend all their time getting into trouble and going to the In School Suspension room. So I selected 8 boys- aged 11-14, who simply could not stay out of trouble, despite every intervention imaginable from their teachers and parents/guardians!
Boys Counseling Group Purpose
The main point of the group is goal achievement- namely for each group member to focus on what goal they wanted to achieve related to their discipline troubles. In addition to working on goal achievement each session, we would also spend time each session on mastering some social skills and debunking some unhelpful masculine stereotypes.
Setting Up my Boys Counseling Group
So, I combed through our school discipline data and then met with the 15 boys who had the highest number of discipline referrals for the year. During this pre-group interview, I chose 7 of the boys who were most eager to improve their discipline record for the remaining two months of the school year. Additionally, I didn’t chose anyone with chronic attendance problems since that is a completely separate problem that must be solved first (so they can actually be in school to attend the group sessions). After choosing my 7 boys (3 of which didn’t make it to group because of transferring schools), I completed all of the pre-group tasks, and we were off. Here’s a chronological list of all the tasks to complete before the first group session.
Running the Boys Counseling Group
Despite my reservations (after all, these were THE most disrespectful and uncontrollable kiddos in the school AND what did I, a middle-aged woman, know about teenage boy issues and masculinity?!?), the group went smashingly. And I have to attribute a large part of the group success to the participation of our School Resource Officer as a group member. Deputy Robles came to every session faithfully and served as wonderful mentor and role model for our group members, many of whom had no positive adult male role model in their lives. It was SUCH a wonderful experience, for the boys and for me as their group leader! It was so powerful to see the boys connect with and support each other, give each other good advice, bond with Deputy Robles, and give all the group activities their best shot.
Why this Boys Counseling Group was so Successful
In summary, I attribute the success of the group to the following points-
- The boys really wanted to improve their lives.
- The SRO’s presence, positivity, and leadership as a co-group facilitator was invaluable; I think it is crucial to have a positive male role model when conducting group sessions with boys who have serious discipline problems.
- Our firm reminders of group rules (link here)– we read the rules together at the start of every session and gently corrected any group member not following a rule.
- The structured, positive group activities with a bit of fun and a lot of movement thrown in- this kept our boys coming back session after session.
Boys Counseling Group Resources
I am writing and field testing the curriculum for this group during this 2016-17 school year, so look for it sometime in the near future on our products page. In the meantime, here are a few Goals Make the Man pictures and resources to hold you over…
- I showed various clips from this Tough Guise video to my boys and they were spell-bound while watching it. It is a fabulous perspective on masculinity. Just make sure you preview all the parts you want to show- there is some salty language and violent scenes in the vid.
- This is the pre/posttest I gave to the boys during the first and last session of the group to collect data about knowledge gained.
- Here is the template we used for the goals that the boys made and shared with each other.
- We started every session with a toll of this mindfulness bell where the boys put their heads down and focused on breathing in and out for one minute until I rang the bell to end the exercise. Despite some initial furrowed brows over this activity, the group mems grew to love and request it!
That brings me to the end of this month’s post. Check back here again next month for more tips and resources to kickstart your counseling or teaching program! As always, you can find out about my latest promotions, free stuff, or my counseling adventures by following my Facebook Page, Twitter Page, or Pinterest Page. And don’t forget to follow me on my new Instagram Page to see pics of my adventures with students!