Counseling groups have been an integral part of the Shepaug Valley Counseling program. Groups are determined through the referrals from parents, students, Shepaug faculty and teachers from the elementary schools. The topics are chosen based on the referrals received and lessons are developed around the need. Counselors have run short term and long terms groups as decided by the need of the students.
In the fall of 2015 there was a significant need for a girls group to address communication skills, specifically assertiveness. With the rise in awareness in the media around bullying, the girls referred themselves and friends as a result of them seeing a strong connection between the two. Our middle school counselor developed this group which included 10-12 girls in grades 6, 7 and 8. Shepaug has one middle school counselor who works with students in grades 6 and 7, therefore she was chosen to run this group. Our School Resource Officer, was also chosen to co-facilitate this group because she is a retired police officer from an inner city and was assigned to special victims unit. Officer Alenckis and Mrs. Ermini shared the the value of acquiring assertive skills for young woman at an early age.
The girls assertiveness group consisted of seven main lessons taught once per week from October through May. Lessons consisted of passive/assertive and aggressive modes of communication, role play, problem solving, decision making strategies, anger management, the analysis of anger aggression and assertion, and advocacy skills. Much of the content of the group is based on personal experiences they faced during their week as it relates to assertion. Each group has a designated time to have members share these related experiences.
The results of the girls assertiveness group are increased use of assertiveness through faculty and parent observations and student’s reflections. The success of the group has reached other parents, who have also asked for their daughters to become members. The counseling department has thus decided to run the group again this year. The older girls in last year’s group have offered to become mentors to younger girls who are just starting the group this year.