Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Groups

Atlantic Counseling Group offers Preteen and Teen Groups!
Some groups are open (new clients may join at any time) and some are closed (groups start and end on a specific date).

Specific groups focus on different needs: social issues, anxiety, depression, executive functioning, identity, parent/child relational challenges, eating concerns, attention and focus issues, isolation/loneliness, managing the stress of distance learning, and more.

Children, Adolescent, and Young Adult Groups

Atlantic Counseling Group offers several different therapy groups for children, adolescents, and young adults. Please see below for specific information about each group. For more information about enrolling in one of the groups below, please contact our client care line at (703) 621-7121 ext. 4 or you can contact Dr. Carol Williams-Nickelson directly.

What is Group Therapy?

Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which several clients meet together with their therapist or co-therapists to work on common issues. Clients sometimes only participate in group therapy, or they may participate in group and individual therapy with the same or different therapist(s). Group therapy is commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that is customized to meet the individual needs of the client.

Intake and Selection

An intake session is conducted to determine the client’s specific needs and issues, and to assess the client to make sure group therapy is a good fit. The composition of the group members is important. Clients are invited to join a particular group if the therapist believes the mix of clients will allow everyone to have the opportunity to benefit from the process.

Size, Frequency, and Duration

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but more often involve between eight to twelve individuals. Group size is a clinical decision and is made by the therapist with the goals and needs of the group members in mind. The group typically meets one to two times each week, for about one-hour, and in some cases one-and-a-half hours, depending on the age range of members and other factors. Depending on the nature and purpose of the group, some groups may be time-limited and may last anywhere between eight and twelve weeks. Other groups may last four, six, eight, or twelve months, or be ongoing.

Open versus Closed

Groups may either be open or closed. In open groups, new participants may join at any time. In a closed group, there is a start and end date for all members who are invited to participate.


Group therapy is a powerful form of treatment. There is abundant psychological research that demonstrates the benefits of group therapy for a variety of issues, and disorders including, but not limited to: anxiety, depression, phobias, panic, bi-polar, obsessions/compulsions, social skills, emotional regulation, personality, substance use, attention/focus, post-traumatic stress, domestic violence, grief, chronic pain, identity development, and more.


Groups range from unstructured (e.g., support groups) to very structured (e.g., a set curriculum, psychoeducational, use of workbooks, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and more). One of the valuable benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to learn and practice new skills in a safe environment where everyone is supported, challenged, and accepted. Group therapy also helps members develop and hone their communication, self-awareness, and socialization skills. The group environment provides a safe and confidential space where members can learn how to express their feelings clearly and appropriately, learn to hear and accept feedback from others, and learn how to truly listen and empathize with others.

About Group Therapy for Teens Flyer

The Waves: Social Skills Groups

This group focuses on developing, practicing and receiving coaching in the following skill areas: social awareness, building and sustaining friendships, problem solving, emotional regulation, conflict resolution, manners, perspective taking, empathy, avoiding the traps of social media, communication/expression, body language, bullying and self-advocacy.

The Surfers: Executive Functioning Groups

The adolescent brain develops in stages that can make it difficult to accept, manage and comply with some expectations in the school environment and responsibilities at home. This group focuses on developing useful, individualized tools to help with prioritizing, becoming and staying organized for task completion, demonstrating higher levels of responsibility/accountability, avoiding the traps of “forgetfulness” as working memory develops, staying on top of schedules, balancing homework and extracurricular activities, avoiding last-minute planning crises, and finding and maintaining motivation.

The Sand Dunes: Stress/Anxiety Groups

Today’s youth feel pressured to exceed performance standards in nearly every aspect of their lives. Increasingly higher expectations can result in stress, anxiety and fear of failure. Feeling as if one is never good enough, can always do better, and can rarely, if ever, make a mistake or receive less than an outstanding evaluation in any aspect of life, contributes to stress and anxiety. Chronic stress and anxiety is unhealthy – both emotionally and physically – and can have significant, debilitating consequences. But a reasonable level of anxiety is necessary to motivate us to care and act. This group focuses on understanding what stress and anxiety is, how it impacts us, and most importantly, how to keep things in perspective and behave to fight off the negative impact of uncontrolled stress and anxiety.

The Seashells: ADHD Groups

What is ADHD and what are the common behaviors associated with ADHD? This group helps participants identify triggers and halt behavioral accelerations. The six clusters of ADHD symptom management are covered, including: 1) Organizing, prioritizing and activating for tasks; 2) Focusing, sustaining and shifting attention, 3) Regulating alertness, sustaining effort and processing speed; 4) Managing frustration and modulating emotions; 5) Utilizing working memory and accessing recall abilities; and 6) Self-monitoring and regulating behavior.

The Sand Dollars: Teen Talk; Navigating the Flood of Emotions and Mix of Messages from Yourself and the World Around You

Teen’s deal with a lot. From balancing schoolwork, sports, activities, jobs and relationships to absorbing the overt and subtle messages from peers, parents, extended family, teachers, leaders, the media and others about what you should and should not think, say, wear, do and be, now and in the future – it’s understandable why you may feel overwhelmed, confused and emotionally vulnerable. Big transitions and decisions about life after high school, college, jobs, careers, intimate relationships and even your core beliefs and values are emerging daily. This group helps teens identify and unpack the assumptions and messages you receive to find your own voice and make choices that will help you advance your goals while staying true and kind to yourself.

The Starfish: Mastering Friendship; Overcoming Loneliness by Creating Strong, Lasting, Give-and-Take Relationships

Even though loneliness impacts many youth at different times, for some, it continues long enough to fundamentally change the way you interact with others. When you are lonely, you approach friendships differently and new relationships often do not have a chance to develop to their full potential, causing a vicious cycle of isolation. This group focuses on helping participants determine why they feel so secluded and how to overcome these feelings by developing the skills necessary to find, maintain and grow healthy relationships with peers.

The Sharks: Regulating Emotions and Behaviors

This group focuses on becoming more aware of feelings, reasons for behaviors and expressing oneself in ways that are productive rather than hurtful to oneself or others. Strategies for managing mood swings, controlling angry outbursts and getting along with others are addressed to gain more self-control.

The Dolphins: Building Confidence and Improving Self-Esteem

Healthy self-esteem is feeling positive regard for yourself, accepting weaknesses, celebrating strengths and believing you are as valuable and important as those around you. Today’s youth often struggle with feeling confident, capable, worthy and able to assert themselves and embrace their evolving identity. Powerful social messages fuel self-talk that often results in adolescents comparing themselves to others and feeling that they do not measure up to expectations. This groups focuses on empowering and embracing a positive, strong sense of self.