By Kilian, Janet
National Association of School Psychologists. Communique , Vol. 38, No. 4
Group Counseling Curriculum HELPING AT-RISK STUDENTS: A Group Counseling Approach for Grades 6-9 (2nd ed.) By J. Waterman & E. Walker 2009, Guilford Press
REVIEWED BY JANET KILIAN HelpingAt-Risk Students is indeed a helpful and excellent guide that focuses on eight important topics for working with adolescents through the SPARK curriculum. S PARK'S eight topic modules each have one to three group counseling sessions outlined with specific goals, activities, materials, and content described for the group leader. The modules cover trust building, anger management and emotional regulation, ethnic identity, educational aspirations, peer pressure and bullying, male-female relationships, exposure to violence, and family relationships. A significant strength of this book is its extensive appendix which is rich with sample materials that can be reproduced for use with students. The materials, in both English and Spanish, range from referral, permission, and pregroup interview forms to games, logs, and certificates.
The activities chosen for the sessions typically are engaging ones that will hold the interest of challenging teenagers. Many of the activities are based on therapeutic techniques proven effective through research, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques. These three are used for anger management and emotional regulation and are embedded in fun game activities using an "anger thermometer" and a "hot-head, cool-head role play." Of particular interest for students who may not be considering postsecondary education due to community or family stressors are the three sessions concerning educational aspirations. This well-focused module is comprehensive, includes a field trip to a local postsecondary institution, and makes use of clips from the film Rudy, which features a character who learned that to be a football player he had to be a good student.
All the modules are well written and based on a psychoeducational model that strives to build competence by developing skills. Through the explanations, rehearsal, practice, and discussions, students can become well versed in positive coping skills. …