By, Keili A. Trottier
Family Services Clinician
As you stand in line in your local grocery store, chances are you’ll notice the little blond haired girl with her hair in bows and her pink dress smiling up at you, and you will likely smile back. Will you notice that same girl with the same smile when she’s 13 and sulking behind her mother? Or walking down the hall at school with her friends?
Maybe, but you probably won’t have the same feeling of joy. As girls enter puberty they enter a whole new domain of life. It’s an emotional roller coaster of boyfriends/girlfriends, fights, grades, dances and drugs and alcohol and sex.
Teenage girls today are introduced to a variety of experiences that they just aren’t ready to handle. There are fights with friends and peer pressure. And to top it off, the typical adolescent girl simply does not know who they are or what they stand for. But DO NOT tell them that, because you would be setting yourself up for a huge argument.
So how do we guide teen girls today? Many think it’s hopeless. It’s hit or miss some say.
What if I were to tell you that there was a nationwide program that has statistically proven to reduce self harm, alcohol use, and increase attachment to school and self-efficacy?
What if I were to say that the same program helps to foster a sense of self respect and is used among all different populations of teenage girls, including girls in juvenile justice settings and other at risk teens?
This wonderful program is called Girls Circle. The Girls Circle is a structured support group that is designed for girls aged 9-18. It combines theory with skills training to provide girls with the opportunity to gain self confidence, to stay true to themselves, and to be connected to others.
Groups run weekly for 8-12 weeks for 2 hour sessions.
The Group has 6 basic components which include an opening and closing ritual, and the opportunity for written, spoken, and creative expression during each session.
Many would wonder how well this group attracts and keeps members. Are the girls interested?
Locally, UCS Specialized Children’s Division, has run 4 separate groups. In these groups there were 3-7 girls and we had a 95% completion rate. All the girls who were members wanted to come back. The girls learned from the group and felt heard by members. One young lady came back to three groups and is now beginning to mentor a younger group of girls as they begin the next round of Girls Circle.
As a Co-facilitator of the group, I am proud to say that I learn from every group that I work with, and every group of girls has learned to work together. Even girls who previously couldn’t get along have found a sense of common ground within the group. This model offers an opportunity to guide girls and young women through discovering who they are with a variety of learning tools that allow for every style of learning.
And the best part is its FUN!
UCS Childrens Services