The Center for Professional Development


Group Work with Children

(See also Group Work with Adolescents)

Therapeutic Approaches to Working with Children in Groups
Saturday, March 9, 2013
3 CEUs - 3 Act 48 credits

Prerequisite: Completion of one of the following: 1) graduate level coursework in the general principles and foundation for group psychotherapy or group counseling (ex. Bryn Mawr’s Contemporary Group Psychotherapy Certificate program); 2) a course in group treatment in graduate school; or 3) permission of the instructor.

This workshop focuses on several different approaches to structuring therapeutic groups for school aged children and young adolescents.  Practical issues in organizing therapy groups for children with an eye towards the setting in which the group is to take place are addressed. Also discussed are the specific population and their clinical and developmental needs, the amount of structure to impose, and activities to be incorporated.  Specific focus is on how much “talk” and how much “play” to include, as well as on curriculum based groups vs. process groups.  Videos, case examples, and demonstrations of various activities are utilized to demonstrate key components of group therapy with children. Participants have the opportunity to discuss their own group experiences with the target population. Diversity is discussed in terms of group composition and how greater diversity maximizes the therapeutic process, as well as how to tailor group activities to the needs of diverse groups of children and settings. Participants also discuss how diversity issues can be managed to assist in group cohesion. Upon completion of this workshop, participants are able to: 1) distinguish three specific approaches to working clinically with children and groups; 2) explain the measures clinicians can take to maximize group cohesion and to facilitate a therapeutic group process; 3) describe how feedback circles are used as a therapeutic change agent in children’s groups, and how feedback can be used in non-therapeutic settings such as a classroom; and 4) share practice issues encountered in working with problem areas and behaviors that frequently arise in child therapy groups. This workshop is appropriate for all levels of post-master’s practitioners in private practice, schools, outpatient clinics, hospital settings, and residential treatment facilities.
Thomas K. Hurster MSS, LCSW CGP, FAGPA, is an adjunct faculty member at Bryn Mawr College GSSSWSR where he teaches Group Treatment and other courses.  He is a Supervisor of Child and Family Support Services at Benchmark School in Media, PA, and is in private practice.  With over 30 years of group experience, he currently conducts two co-ed open-ended private practice psychotherapy groups for high school aged youth, three school based children’s groups, and a parent group.  He is co-chair of the Child and Adolescent Special Interest Group of the AGPA, and on the board of the Philadelphia Area Group Psychotherapy Society.