Treatment Groups for Children with Mental Health Conditions

A variety of groups have been developed to help children work through issues within a helpful group setting. The group treatment options provide by the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health are evidence-based treatments that effectively treat commonly presenting disorders in children and adolescents, including:

Some groups are offered in person and others are offered virtually, depending on the group. Groups offered in the Outpatient Psychiatry Service include: 

TARGET Program

The TARGET Program supports caregivers and their children (ages 3-10) who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), disruptive behavior disorders, or other behavioral challenges such as:

  • Difficulty following rules, routines, and directions
  • Defiance, tantrums and emotional dysregulation
  • Mild aggression like pushing and hitting

While the children are involved for part of the group therapy sessions, the main focus of these groups is to work with parents and caregivers on learning strategies to address their child’s challenging behaviors. We serve families insured by Medicaid as well as those with private insurance.

TARGET currently offers a therapy group for two age ranges of children: 3-6 years old and 7-10 years old. Both groups are made up of 8-12 kids and run weekly for 8 sessions. Please note—both groups are only offered through telemedicine at this time. The following are the current TARGET therapy groups:

Parent Management Training for Preschool Age (3-6 years old)

  • Curriculum: Brief Behavioral Intervention® (BBI)
  • Time frame: 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays (8-week program)
  • Sessions are virtual using telemedicine
  • Structure: Children participate for the first 15-20 minutes of the group to learn about behaviors, feelings, and coping skills. After that, children are dismissed and caregivers join the group. The caregiver portion lasts 70-75 minutes and focuses on how caregivers can help improve their children’s behavior.

Parent Management Training for School Age (7-10 years old)

  • Curriculum: First Approach Skills Training for Behavior® (FAST-B)
  • Time frame: 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Mondays (8-week program)
  • Sessions are virtual using telemedicine
  • Structure: Children participate together for the first 25-30 minutes of the group to practice social skills and learn about feelings, coping skills, boundaries, and self-esteem. After that, children are dismissed and caregivers join the group. The caregiver portion lasts 60-65 minutes and focuses on how caregivers can help improve their children’s behavior.  

Groups for Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Our groups for mood and anxiety disorders use Cognitive-Behavioral treatments and unified protocols for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders in children and adolescents. We have a variety of group treatment options for various age ranges of youth including:

Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE)

  • This group is idea for children ages 4-7 with specific anxiety challenges such as sleeping on their own, difficulty separating from parents, and other parental concerns for anxiety in their young children.
  • Group meets for 8 weeks, virtually, and includes both a child component and a parent component.
  • The group focuses on helping young children identify their emotions and develop coping skills to help with what makes them feel anxious, while then working with caregivers to help them understand their child’s anxiety and empower them to aid children in developing distress tolerance.

Unified Protocol for Children and Adolescents (UP-C and UP-A)

  • Unified Protocol is an evidence-based treatment rooted in cognitive-behavioral concepts that helps youth identify specific fears and phobias and encourages them to develop a “fear ladder” to help gradually work through situations that cause a heightened level of anxiety.
  • These groups are ideal for youth experiencing fear and anxiety around things such as: school, performance anxiety, specific fears (needles, blood draws, vomiting) as well as youth with more generalized anxiety.
  • Additionally, a parent component is available to assist parents in learning more about their child’s anxiety and helping them work through “exposures” to their fears and develop coping skills to work through their anxieties.

These groups are available for youth ages 8-11 and high schoolers (14+) and are 16 weeks long.  

Groups for Youth Who Have Experienced Stress and/or Traumatic Events

Our group for teens who have experienced stress or traumatic events (such as having a chronic medical condition, witnessing community violence, victim of physical abuse/sexual abuse), uses Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS), focusing on cognitive-behavioral principles and dialectical-behavioral principles. Some of the skills practiced in the group include:

  • Learn helpful ways of regulating emotions and impulses
  • Understand how their body reacts to stress
  • Get what they want by improving communication skills
  • Enhance relationships to build the kind of support they need and want
  • Create meaning from the past, and discover purpose for the future

This group is geared towards high school students (14+) and is 12 weeks long.

Make an Appointment

Schedule a first-time appointment for our treatment groups by calling 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC) or visit our Appointments page for more information.

Related Specialties

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