Free girls group to meet this summer
by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Therapist Lauren Bridges has the willingness and knowhow to help teens, girls particularly, to work through their troubles.
Bridges, who lives in Wake Forest, is hosting a small teen support group Saturdays from July 13 to Aug. 10. There is no charge.
“What I’m seeing in my clinical practice is a lot of competent girls — able to do great things with their lives — who are faltering because of trauma,” due to gang activities or relationship issues, she says.
“They’re losing sight of their own abilities, so I’m trying to pull them back in and help them develop better insight. It concerns me that these girls who have such great potential — I’ve got girls who are published authors — get involved in situations and end up in juvie (juvenile detention).”
The support group is designed both for those girls and others who are less troubled but need to be kept on the straight and narrow.
A licensed clinical therapist now seeking a doctorate in forensic psychology, Bridges knows what makes teens tick.
But don’t expect her to be too high-minded — the program features tried-and-true methods like journaling and peer-to-peer discussion to help build girls’ confidence.
All the activities are voluntary. In one, the girls write their own poetry. Bridges has used the activities with past groups at the YMCA.
“It’s self-expression. It’s very cathartic,” she says. “It went over very well at the YMCA. It was very successful.”
With a focus on self-worth and identity development, topics of discussion will include self-esteem, confidence building, body-image communication and decision making skills, peer pressure, self-exploration, bullying and self-expression.
Other activities include an introduction to coping skills, meditation, art therapy and narrative story-telling.
The group curriculum will be shared with parents beforehand. If there’s an element they’re uncomfortable with, they can ask for their child to not participate.
Bridges says the conversations are confidential. Unless a teen asks for help or is at risk to harm themselves, Bridges doesn’t divulge to the parents what they say.
This is not an experimental program, Bridges stresses. Originating out of the San Diego Boys & Girls Club, the now nationally accepted program draws its curriculum from a researched-based model referred to as the Girls Circle.
The more than 900 teens who have completed the circle program have learned critical thinking skills, developed life, coping and decision-making skills and developed self-esteem and confidence.
Depending on how well received the summer program is, she may repeat it during the school year and expand to add a second group.
Bridges works in both Raleigh and Wake Forest, the latter in an auxiliary office in the back of her husband Drew Bridges’ Wake Forest business, Storyteller’s Book Store.
The group will meet in a private room at Storyteller’s, 158 S. White St. Hours are 1-2:15 p.m. Materials and supplies will be provided.
To register, e-mail the store at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-556-3903.