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Demographic: ‘At risk’ teenage girls and their mothers or carers
Objective: Counselling/rehabilitation session for mental and physical health issues
Schedule: 6 weeks per school term or 3-day weekend
The Mother and Daughter (M.A.D.) Times and Teens to Queens programs are designed to assist young girls suffering from mental and physical health issues such as depression, abuse (e.g. self-harm) and developmental/intellectual learning difficulties, who are in desperate need of extra support within their local community. We do this by providing counselling/rehabilitation sessions for these young girls and mentoring support for mothers/female caregivers and daughters in how to create an extended and effective support network. These programs support and nurture vulnerable families to ensure they can have crucial guidance and support at an important stage in the development of these young girls.
The program is run on a weekday evening for 6 weeks (‘MAD Times’) or as a 3-day weekend (‘Teens to Queens’), and is designed to accommodate mothers and daughters who would otherwise be unable to attend.
Principles of counselling/rehabilitation sessions
The counselling/rehabilitation sessions involve individual goal setting, raising mental health issue awareness, communication/expression exercises, and group/individual counselling and also help young girls find self-worth. There are 11 key principles of this counselling and rehabilitation therapy (according to one of the most renowned group therapists, Dr. Irvin D. Yalom):
1. Instillation of hope. Since group therapy often includes clients at different stages in their treatment, some of the newer clients can find encouragement from seeing the positive impacts on clients further along in their treatment.
2. Universality. Just being part of a group of people who understand what you are going through and have experienced similar problems will help clients see that they are not alone, and that suffering is universal.
3. Imparting information. Group members can be a great resource of information for each other.
4. Altruism. Group therapy gives members a chance to practice altruism by helping others in the group, an experience which will likely help them as well.
5. The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group. This principle refers to the process of clients learning and exploring the childhood experiences, personalities, behaviours, and feelings of themselves and other group members, and learning how to identify and avoid destructive or non-helpful behaviours.
6. Development of socialisation techniques. The simple experience of working in a group provides excellent opportunities to socialise, practice new behaviours, and experiment in a safe environment.
7. Imitative behaviour. Clients can observe and imitate or model positive and helpful behaviours for others in the group, including the therapist.
8. Interpersonal learning. Interacting with the therapist and other group members and receiving feedback can help a client learn more about themselves.
9. Group cohesiveness. Group therapy sessions can facilitate a shared sense of belonging and acceptance of one another.
10. Catharsis. This principle is based on the healing powers of sharing with others; talking through your feelings and experiences in a group can help relieve pain, guilt, and stress.
11. Existential factors. Although group therapy offers guidance and support through the group, it also helps clients realise that they are responsible for their own actions and the consequences that follow
Our Program and Facilitators
MAD Times and Teens to Queens are led by Leah Rettenmaier and Miranda Chance who are both trained by Dr. Arne Rubinstein in Youth Leadership. They work alongside four other qualified facilitators also trained by Dr. Arne Rubinstein in Global Rites of Passage.
Each group consists of 8-12 girls and their mothers or female caregivers. Over the course of the program, the girls and their caregivers explore a range of topics and issues in facilitated group counselling sessions. These discussions allow the girls to learn about mental health issues (including anxiety and depression, body image issues and self-harm), and to talk about their experiences in a safe and supportive environment. They practice interpersonal communication exercises and learn about healthy relationships. Other sessions cover goal setting and self-worth.
In these counselling/rehabilitation sessions, at risk young girls are provided with the opportunities and learning experiences to make decisions for themselves in a safe space and appropriate setting. Mothers are also given the opportunity to engage with their children, helping overall to develop stronger and more supportive mother-daughter relationships, with authentic communication and active listening at the centre.
The girls and young women, along with their caregivers, not only benefit from the discussions and exercises during the program, but the connections they make with each other and their caregivers means the program will continue to benefit them for years to come through the support of these relationships. We see the girls and young women who undertake the program emerge with noticeably higher self-confidence, lower levels of anxiety (and techniques to manage anxiety, depression, self-harm, better communication skills and a greater willingness to talk about their mental health and other difficulties. These girls and young women, now better connected with themselves, others and their caregivers, are far more likely to manage their mental health and other difficulties within healthy relationships and with hope.