Small Groups, Big Support

January 9, 2024
Students experience social-emotional learning in small topical groups that support their Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups.

An integral part of education and youth development models is social-emotional learning (SEL). It is the process that helps students, from the earliest grade levels, learn to develop mindfulness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are important for school, home, and life.

Incorporating Small Group Work

Green Chimneys’ therapeutic programming incorporates small group work into student support to cover an array of topics and skill-building activities. For example, activities include play therapy, mindfulness, and active discussions around maintaining healthy relationships.

For several years, Green Chimneys has employed Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) for behavioral and social skills development. The DBT group is the primary social-emotional learning group held during the school day. Clinicians focus on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness in these discussions. The Feelings Wheel is one tool they use to help students recognize and describe their emotions.

Click to view Feelings Wheel

In addition, to promote student practice of these skills, support teams supplement DBT groups with specialized, topical groups. They focus on individual skills and restorative practices with activities that encourage participants to utilize the skills in the moment with direct coaching, and repetition.

First, students are identified for particular groups based on behavioral data to assess individual needs. Groups consist of four to six participants. Then, curriculum is determined by participant ages to ensure activities and discussions are age-appropriate and relevant to their level of development.

Groups Underway This School Year

New Student Orientation welcomes new students and introduces them to Green Chimneys’ Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and restorative practices.

Guiding Peers helps older students build skills to support younger peers and become peer mentors in the school and the residential program.

Structured student groups are a component of Green Chimneys’ ongoing therapeutic intervention and behavioral support for students. A multi-tiered approach comprised of push-in services, crisis prevention, and guided group programs helps students to maintain their regular routines. Subsequently, students feel more resilient and able to make positive choices. Learn more about Green Chimneys’ integrated clinical services.