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May 24, 2018

For Troubled Kids, Some Schools Take Time Out For Group Therapy

Source: npr.org | Re-Post Fight for Life 5/24/2018 –

Sometimes 11-year-old B. comes home from school in tears. Maybe she was taunted about her weight that day, called “ugly.” Or her so-called friends blocked her on their phones. Some nights she is too anxious to sleep alone and climbs into her mother’s bed. It’s just the two of them at home, ever since her father was deported back to West Africa when she was a toddler.

B.’s mood has improved lately, though, thanks to a new set of skills she is learning at school. (We’re using only first initials to protect students’ privacy.) Cresthaven Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., is one of growing number of schools offering kids training in how to manage emotions, handle stress and improve interpersonal relationships.

At Cresthaven, some fifth-graders like B. get an intensive 12 weeks of such training, a course called the Resilience Builder Program. Created by psychologist Mary Alvord, it’s a form of group therapy designed to help students who are struggling with trauma or cognitive disorders — or everyday anxiety caused by things like bullying or moving schools.

“I think it’s so critical that kids know they have the power to make changes. While we can’t control everything about our lives, we can control many facets,” Alvord says.

If students can learn this kind of resilience, the ability to adapt to emotional challenges, she says, “I think the whole world gets better.”

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