Choose your lifeA ONLINE Group for Teens Living in Ontario
Is this group for you?
YES, if you are:
- In Grades 9-12 as of Fall 2022 (or taking a ‘gap year”)
- Bothered by thoughts (such as: thoughts about the future, judgments about yourself, others, or the world, comparing yourself to others) and emotions (such as: anxiety, worrying, nervousness, hopelessness, or sadness), maybe even more now since the pandemic began?
- Feeling like you don’t know who you are or what matters to you
- Putting a lot of time and energy into avoiding thoughts and feelings or trying to make them go away (i.e., distracting, thinking about the past or future over and over, overanalyzing, self-harm), and missing out on other things that matter to you
- Discovering that thoughts and feelings are not easy to control or get rid of, and curious to find ways to live with them, and live well
What will you learn in the group?
This group is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a modern type of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). From an ACT perspective, thoughts and feelings are not the problem, it’s what we do to try to control them that makes our life more difficult. So, instead of focusing on trying to “get rid of” thoughts and feelings, we’ll help you to focus on what matters to you, what you CAN control, and help you to experience ways to take thoughts and feelings along for the ride, like a pesky pebble stuck in your shoe!
- This is an opportunity to learn about yourself, discovering who you want to be and how to be that person in your daily life.
- You will learn to be more self-aware, noticing when you get hooked by your thoughts and feelings and they start to push you around
- You will learn to unhook from the uncomfortable stuff inside so you can live, and live well, with normal human thoughts and feelings…. even when you don’t like them and don’t want them.
To learn more about this approach, you can read the first chapter of Mary & Sheri’s teen self help book – available on the Resources page – under ‘teens”!
Dates and Fee
Online, using Zoom
Group of 4-8 teens
We are excited to announce the Soon To Be Released pre-recorded version of Choose Your Life that will allow teens to work through the material at their own pace!
We anticipate an early Sept. 2022 release date !
Who is running the group?
The group is being facilitated by Dr. Sheri Turrell and Ms. Mary Bell, MSW, RSW. Sheri and Mary have over 20 years of experience in mental health and work with both teens and adults. They have been running this group for over 8 years and have conducted research on the outcomes, which have been very positive. We often include a clinician who is learning ACT as a third co-facilitator. This clicinan will be taking part in the group with everyone else, including Sheri & Mary!
How do I register my teen for the group?
Because there has been tremendous interest in the online teen group, we will be running it regularly once we have the minimum number of participants. Please contact Dr. Turrell (email@example.com) to have your teens’ name put on the waiting list and to arrange an Orientation Session, free of charge.
We can answer any questions you have, and we can check with you to ensure, as best we can, that the group is appropriate for what your teen is experiencing.
What is the cost?
The cost will be determined closer to the start of the group and we generally ask that the full fee be paid prior to first week. If you are currently undergoing extreme financial hardship, please ask about our limited spots for a lower fee.
How do I pay?
Payment will be accepted, in full, by cheque or e-transfer prior to the first week.
What are the participation requirements?
Access to a desktop or laptop computer with camera, microphone and operating system that can run Zoom would be needed. It is important that your teen be able to have complete privacy during sessions.
What is the group schedule?
The day / time of the group is yet to be determined.
Can I change my mind?
Because the number of participants is limited, we do have a 7 day cancellation policy for a full refund to allow us time to offer a cancelled spot to someone on the waiting list. For cancellations less than 7 days prior to the first session, we will not be able to offer a refund.
How do I know if my teen should be in individual or group therapy? What are the benefits of group versus individual therapy?
This is a common question and there is no “one size fits all” answer. We have been running this group for over seven years and have collected research data that tells us teens with symptoms of anxiety and / or sadness have benefited. Many of our participants have told us that the group experience was very ‘powerful,” and had an enormous impact in helping them to feel that they are not alone and they are not abnormal: they are a human being who is struggling. This goes a long way to reduce the stigma and shame associated with mental health concerns. Because adolescence is a time of development marked by an emphasis on peer relationships, group therapy also adds a supportive element to the therapy experience. Group therapy enables teens to navigate belonging without sacrificing what makes them unique. From an economical perspective, group therapy is more cost effective than individual therapy and we are proud and excited to be able to offer this effective treatment at a rate we hope is manageable for most people.
What if my teen has been isolated or is too anxious to talk to others?
The teens in the group will vary in terms of the intensity of their feelings and their ability to participate in the group- we know that for some members, just showing up will be an enormous step that requires courage and determination. The group experience can be particularly impactful for teens who have become socially isolated, giving them a safe space in which to start to re-engage with others. We do ask that everyone participate to some degree – if your teen can say their name, what grade they are in, and what thoughts / feelings they are struggling with, that’s enough for the first week! Recognizing that many teens will find being with others anxiety provoking, we ask that participants share only what they are willing to share, and no more. There is no pressure to disclose your most intimate life story to the group. The group facilitators are very experienced in working with teens in a group format. Sheri and Mary are skilled in creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is supportive and inclusive, so your teen can learn to manage intense emotions.
When you come for your Orientation Session, please don’t hesitate to hear about our “Group Feedback” book, which contains notes to potential future group members, from past group members, some of whom also felt very nervous and unsure!
Are there teens for whom the group is not helpful?
We want every teen who takes part in the group to benefit as much as possible. Because of the intimate nature of the group experience, we do our best to offer the group to teens we believe will work well together and who will contribute to a safe environment. For this reason, the group setting is not suitable for teens who are unable to control their anger, are prone to aggressive behavior, or are not yet able to appear on camera (for online groups). Additionally, we are not able to offer the group to teens who have: a head injury or concussion with current symptoms that might interfere in a group setting (i.e., intense sensitivity to light or noise or an inability to focus), a diagnosis of, or possibility of, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD that is not adequately managed, active psychosis or bipolar disorder. If your teen does not struggle with the concerns just listed, and experiences anxiety or sadness that gets in their way, or makes life more difficult than it has to be, this group is for them!
If your teen is struggling with any of these concerns, please see my website for additional resources here.
What happens if my teen misses a group session?
Due to the nature of group therapy, both in terms of content and the emphasis on developing trust and safety amongst the teens, we ask you to register ONLY if your teen is committed to attending each and every week. If you have to miss a session, we will try to arrange a “makeup” session for you to cover the content prior to the next session.