Group Counseling with Adolescents: A Multicultural Approach
by Sam Steen, PhD, & Sheri Bauman, PhD
Over the course of eight sessions with a multicultural group of eighth graders, Drs. Sam Steen and Sheri Bauman offer child therapists a thorough picture of the issues adolescents face and ways to deepen connection with them.
Although child therapy is a vast subset of our field, much emphasis is placed on the various modalities that support either very young children or high school–age youth, while the treatment of middle schoolers is often neglected. In this video, Drs. Sam Steen and Sheri Bauman co-facilitate a series of structured sessions with a diverse group of eighth graders, offering therapists a much-needed picture of the issues young teens face and age-appropriate ways to help them connect with each other.

Six 13-year-olds from different schools around Tuscon, Arizona, have been selected to participate in Steen and Bauman’s group demonstrating their collaborative approach to adolescent group counseling. Through a warm, mutually developed combination of interactive icebreakers, expressive arts activities, and structured discussions designed to prompt self-reflection and direct communication, the facilitators demonstrate a range of methods to engage members of this challenging yet insightful age group.

Over the course of eight sessions, the kids discover that despite real and perceived differences in race, gender, and family background, they share more traits and circumstances than they initially thought—and even their differences offer opportunities for connection. Between sessions, Steen and Bauman debrief with nuts-and-bolts processing that will guide your understanding of their goals and showcase their clinical skills. Addressing the poignant themes raised by the youngsters and modifying activities as they go, they offer a useful framework for conducting adolescent groups and assessing their collective progress.

If you’re looking for effective ways to engage young teens in a short-term group process—either as a solo practitioner or in collaboration with a colleague—watch these two specialists to find inspiration as well as practical training you can start using today.

Note: If you wish to see this talented team of therapists co-lead a similar series of sessions with fifth graders, consider watching Group Counseling with Children: A Multicultural Approach.
In Depth
While many training videos present a single session of therapy or use actors to reenact a course of treatment, this video is remarkable in that you’ll witness eight actual sessions of group counseling with teens.

Creating safety for adolescents to express emotional vulnerability can seem particularly difficult given this population’s much-documented resistance to self-disclosure. Moreover, working with this age group poses challenges related to managing energy levels and varying degrees of introversion and extraversion. Steen and Bauman prove their skill in all of these areas, facilitating crosstalk and direct interaction among their group members while encouraging relational risks and deeper thinking about the experiences that connect us all.

You’ll be impressed by the range of issues these children bring to the group, from feeling “weird” for enjoying reading, to worrying about relationships, to rumors and bullying, and much more. With so much of our therapeutic work occurring in isolation from other professionals, you’ll find it particularly instructive to see how these two talented therapists authentically connect with the teens and complement each other’s facilitation styles. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to co-lead a group yourself!

In this minimally edited video, Steen and Bauman offer a transparent, thoughtful deconstruction of their methods that anyone working with adolescents will find educational and refreshing.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn how to present discussion topics in age-appropriate ways that create safety to self-disclose.
  • Discover ways to enliven and focus the group when energy is low.
  • Identify how and when to adjust activities based on observations of group members.

Length of video: 6:25:02

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-419-3

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-419-2

Sam Steen, PhD, is an associate professor at George Mason University. He has published on the topics of group work and school counselors.

Sheri Bauman, PhD, is an associate professor and director of the School Counseling program at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Essential Topics for the Helping Professional. 

See all Sam Steen and Sheri Bauman videos.
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