Small Group Counseling: Frequently Asked Questions

About the Groups

What is a social skills group?


Social skills groups provide a safe, nonjudgemental environment where kids can learn the skills necessary to initiate and maintain social relationships. Using a combination of games, role-play, and other activities, our goal is to build social confidence and independence for success. It also allows students to practice skills without adult interaction, but with instant feedback.




Are these therapy groups?


Our groups are not intended to be the primary therapeutic support for children in need of mental health services. Although many participants find that it helps with anxiety or other mental health problems, our groups are primarily geared toward learning social skills (social skills group) and connecting with others (teen group). We do, however, touch on coping skills and managing emotions.




What will my child learn in social skills group?


We will focus on the following skills: -Conversation skills -Understanding body language and facial expressions -Active Listening -Perspective-taking -Problem-solving -Using correct tone and volume of voice -Staying on topic -Showing empathy




My child already knows about all of the topics you will cover in social skills group. Should they still attend group?


Although your child may know the meaning behind the skills, it may be difficult to demonstrate them. For example, your child may know what it means to be a “sore loser”. But if they lose a game, do they still react that way even though they know it is wrong? In group, we use games and other activities to teach and practice the skills in real-time, and with instant feedback.




Can my child participate in a group more than once?


Social Skills Groups: YES! Learning social skills is all about practice. The more that they are exposed to social settings and given an opportunity to demonstrate the necessary skills, the more confident they will feel. Also, the group dynamics can and will change depending on who is in the group, so the experience will always be different. Teen Talk Group: YES! Much like individual therapy, the group experience is a process and changes don't happen immediately. It requires a commitment to the other group members and oftentimes once that trust has been built, they want to continue even after the sessions are over.




My child has anxiety. Will you put my child on the spot during group?


Most of the children we work with enter the group with some anxiety, and that is normal. We make it clear in the beginning that it is a safe environment, and that there is no pressure. We will never put your child on the spot and expect them to speak in front of the group if they aren’t comfortable. We will give them the opportunity, but it is okay if they want to pass on their turn (that happens a lot). However, the goal would be for them to make progress and feel more comfortable doing so by the end of the group experience.




Can parents be in the group room?


No, due to HIPAA concerns, parents are not permitted to be in the group room while it is in session. To get the most out of group, it is also important that group members are in an environment where they can connect to their peers without parent interaction and involvement. Creating relationships on their own will build social confidence and better prepare them for real world scenarios.




Will I get feedback about my child after the group?


Yes. The group facilitator will email all parents with feedback regarding their child's progress in group, as well as recommendations. In the social skills group, parents will also receive a Family Activities Packet so group members can continue practicing the skills learned at home.




What is Teen Talk?


In Teen Talk, we discuss the obstacles that teens face today such as handling pressures, social relationships, and emotional challenges. Some other topics may include: Coping with the impacts of Covid-19, identifying healthy and toxic relationships, developing a positive self image and self-acceptance, learning effective coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety, setting smart goals, and making positive lifestyle choices. The group will include open discussion and fun activities to promote connections in a caring and supportive environment. This group is a great resource for students with anxiety, depression*, or those who simply wish to connect with same aged peers. *Please note that this group is not intended to be a primary treatment option for addressing serious mental health concerns. It should not replace individual therapy (or other mental health supports) as determined by your child's health care provider, and is not intended for teens who exhibit suicidal ideation or self-harm. ***Co-ed, High School Students only





Payment Questions

Can I use insurance benefits for group?


No, unfortunately our groups cannot be submitted to insurance. However, you can pay with an HSA or flex spending card.




Is there a discount for attending multiple groups?


Yes, if you have attended a group before through the Macks Psychology Group, you will save $50 on all future groups. Please contact Kristen at KMacks@Mackspsychology.com to find out how to receive this discount. This coupon is only valid for previous group attendees.




Can I split up my payments?


Yes, you can divide up the payments. A non-refundable $200 fee is required to reserve a spot in group. Simply enter coupon code: MPG200 when registering. You will receive an invoice via email for the remaining amount owed 30 days prior to the start of group.




Is there a sibling discount?


Yes, if you have multiple children attending group, your rate will be discounted. Please contact Kristen at kmacks@mackspsychology.com for more information.





Who is appropriate

Who is appropriate for social skills group?


Your child may be appropriate if they experience any of the following: -Difficulty participating in peer groups -Difficulty picking up on body language or social cues -The inability to see another individual’s perspective -The inability to stay on topic during a conversation -Speaking in long monologues -Interrupting others during a conversation -Difficulty initiating conversations Even children who are socially capable can practice their skills and build more confidence by interacting with others in group who may be different than them.




Who is not appropriate for groups?


Children with any of the following may not be appropriate for group: -Tantrums, outbursts, or defiance -Behavior disorders of any kind -Overly hyperactive and unable to stay seated -Selective Mutism -Intellectual Disability -Self-harm or suicidal ideation -Psychosis




My child has behavior problems and needs to learn social skills. Why aren’t they appropriate for this group?


Social skills groups are not designed to address problematic behavior such as defiance, outbursts, tantrums, aggression, or extreme hyperactivity and inability to stay seated. It is imperative that the small group environment feel safe, calm, and supportive for all members. Behavior problems can significantly and negatively impact the group dynamic. Physical aggression, threats, bullying, defiance, or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. If your child has behavior problems, behavioral or family therapy will likely be more appropriate to address their needs. With successful treatment and improved behavior, a social skills group may be the next appropriate step. It is normal for children to feel anxious about participating in small groups. Typically after the first ten minutes, they tend to feel more relaxed and will engage with the facilitator and other members. We will never put them on the spot and expect them to do so immediately. We understand it may take more time for them to ease into the experience depending on their anxiety level. However, if your child is refusing to participate out of defiance after the first group, they may not be appropriate. It is important for everyone in the group to feel accepted so that connections can be built. If someone is refusing to participate, that can be hurtful to other group members who are seeking to make friends. If your child refuses to participate, they will be removed from group.




Are your groups appropriate for children with Autism or ADD?


Yes, we work with many children with mild Autism and ADD. However, children with moderate to severe Autism may be in need of more intensive services. If you aren’t sure if your child falls into this category, please contact Kristen at kmacks@mackspsychology.com.




What if my child doesn't want to participate?


It is normal for children to feel anxious about participating in small groups. Typically after the first ten minutes, they tend to feel more relaxed and will engage with the facilitator and other members. We will never put them on the spot and expect them to do so immediately. We understand it may take more time for them to ease into the experience depending on their anxiety level. However, if your child is refusing to participate out of anger or defiance after the first group, they may not be appropriate. Many of our group members have been victims of bullying and have a difficult time feeling socially accepted in school. That is why it is imperative that our groups be a welcoming environment where they feel acceptance. If someone is refusing to participate, that can be hurtful to other group members who are seeking to build relationships.




Who is appropriate for Teen Talk?


This group is appropriate for teens who may be struggling with stress, anxiety, self-esteem, or peer relationships, and would be open to discussing these issues with other teens who are experiencing similar difficulties.