Lake Havasu High School (LHHS) Counseling Department believed in the necessity of small group counseling sessions. Group topics are determined through needs assessments and feedback from the school leadership team and school counseling Advisory Council. Participants were referred by a teacher, parent, administrator, counselor, or through self-referral. Counselors determined specific lessons based on the focus of the group and/or academic achievement data, discipline reports and personal concerns.
During the 2015-2016 school year, there were eight different groups conducted. These groups were: Freshman Success, Study Skills, Why Try?, Mpowrd, Mindfulness, Seeing Red, GIRLS, and First Gen. There were thirteen (13) individual groups conducted during the year. Groups were facilitated by the prevention counselor and co-facilitated with an alpha-counselor based on interest, expertise, and availability.
The purpose of Seeing Red was to help students better understand their anger so they could make healthy and successful choices and build strong relationships. The two objectives of the group were for students to realize that they can control their behavior and to develop practical skills and strategies to manage their feelings. This was a voluntary student support group with two sections offered throughout the year. The first section was offered during second quarter and the second section was offered in third quarter. The students were selected based on past discipline referrals or alpha-assigned counselor personal knowledge of the student. All students were screened for participation in the group to determine appropriate group dynamics. Six students, three male and three female, completed the first section of Seeing Red. Eight students, five male and three female students, signed up to participate in the second section offered; however, due to lack of attendance, this section was discontinued after five sessions. The prevention counselor facilitated both sections, with Ms. Stengel co-facilitating the first section. Each session was scheduled to meet for forty-five (45 minutes) once per week for eight weeks.
The students in the first section of the Seeing Red group had a total of nineteen (19) discipline referrals, in the first quarter of school, prior to participating in this group. Discipline referrals decreased to one referral in fourth quarter (94.7% decrease in referrals) for those who completed the Seeing Red group. Attendance also improved for students who completed this group. There were a total of thirty-six (36) absences during the first quarter which decreased to sixteen (16) for the fourth quarter (55.56% reduction in absences). Data is unavailable for two students who completed the first section. One student withdrew from school during the fourth quarter and the second student was placed in an alternative and more supportive school environment in the third quarter.
Students felt they improved their anger management skills as evidenced by the pre and post-test results. In the post-test, students reported they were more likely to stop and think (100% report always or sometimes), find a safe adult, and take a deep breath when they became upset. Students also reported they were less likely to hit/kick (100% decrease), threaten (100% decrease) or call names (57.1% decrease) when they became upset. The Seeing Red group supported the program goal of decreasing the number of referrals for unexcused absences by 2% by the end of the 2015-2016 school year by providing students with improved relational skills and ability to manage daily stressors.
Results from the Seeing Red group indicated that LHHS counselors should continue to offer this group as it has proven beneficial in reducing discipline referrals and absences. The referral process may need to be revised to increase group size and interest. Additionally, the meeting schedule may also need to be revised to help improve group attendance rates.
Small group counseling is an effective intervention that counselors use to address student academic and behavioral needs. Counselors continually analyze small group data results and seek input from the student’s, Advisory Council, and other stakeholders to determine quantity and type of groups to benefit our students.