Teens relate to teens first and foremost, and so we establish a teen encounter group to discuss and resolve teen-related issues. As with the parent encounter group, we look to set up a mini-society of trust, acceptance, and belongingness where teen-specific emotional needs can be met. As we are all well aware, teen needs can be frustrated significantly by both peers inside and outside of school, as well as by family. Our intention is to provide a safe haven where teen participants can routinely meet to discuss their successes, frustrations, and concerns – minus any outside pressure. As with the parent group, participants learn to give and get constructive feedback in a non-threatening, authentic, and supportive way.
Particular to the teen’s encounter group, we expose participants not to specific values per se, but rather to the values development process. We acknowledge that as prospective adults, teens will need to know how to formulate long-term values that drive their decisions in life, and to measure the outcomes of those values, choices, and consequences. Not surprisingly, the approach facilitates both self and group discovery. In the end, however, the individual must choose values that meet his specific needs. Invariably, the values formulation process gives teens a vehicle for discussing values formulation with family, should they choose to.