Social Skills Groups & Therapists for Teens/Preteens

Parent Q&A

Seeking Social Skills Coach for Young Adult Mar 2, 2020 (1 responses below)
ISO of Social Skills Groups for Middle Schooler Aug 23, 2018 (2 responses below)
Seeking Social skills group for 12 year old daughter Apr 12, 2018 (4 responses below)
Recommendations for middle school girl social skills group? Sep 8, 2016 (1 responses below)
  • Seeking a social skills coach / group for an introverted young adult who finds it difficult to connect easily in unfamiliar situations (e.g., job interviews, group settings with strangers, etc.)

    We have 1st hand experience with a great social coach/ therapist & ASD expert in Orinda. Dr. Joshua Wilson works with many young adults on the spectrum & is in process of putting together a small group together to practice social skills. HTH

  • I'm ISO of a social skills group in the East Bay for a middle school aged boy recently diagnosed with Autism. Any leads would be appreciated. 

    Have you considered occupational therapy in a group setting? I like Outdoor Kids OT: https://www.outdoorkidsot.com/. I have not worked with them directly yet, but had a great conversation with the lead at the recommendation of my pediatrician for my son with sensory processing issues. Social skills seemed among the things they focused on.

    Try Seven Bridges Therapy in Oakland. My son goes to a weekly group there.

  • Hello.

    I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations on social skill groups for preteens? My 12 year old daughter is struggling with making friends and I'd like to get her in programs to improve her social skills. I have done some online searching but they all seem to be either way in SF, Marin or the South Bay areas.  We live in El Cerrito and it would be nice to find something not too far like in Berkeley, Oakland or anywhere else that is close in proximity. If anyone can point to a place they have used or know about, please share! thanks! 

    Communication Works in Oakland has excellent social skills groups. 

    Communication Works in Oakland. Also Maria Antoniadis used to have a group in Oakland but I believe  someone else is running it now. You can call Maria ‭(510) 336-1120‬ to get a referral to the group if it is still going on. Good luck! 

    We've tried several social skills groups but by far the most helpful has been Think Social East Bay on Grand Avenue in Oakland. My daughter loves it ,and I notice a big difference in her ability to interact with peers. Shelly, group leader, can be reached at 510-444-8732.

  • Hi,

    I'm considering getting my 8th grade daughter into a social skills group this year.  Does anyone have experience they'd like to share about the girls'  groups run by Kate Kosmos, Shelly Hansen, Kathleen McCarthy?  Any others that I should know about?  We are in South Berkeley.  Thank you!

    I highly recommend Susan Diamond in Alameda; her website is www.diamondlanguage.com She turned our child's life around from socially awkward to having close friends and getting along well with other kids in school. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Social Skills Group for 12 yr old Boy

Dec 2015

I know this was listed before, but do any of you remember a social skills group for young teens, in Oakland? I believe it was weekday afternoons. Cannot seem to find the listing.

Also, any suggestions about a sport or league that is not overly competitive? My 12 year old is very gifted physically, but has an irritable and too-competitive nature towards teammates.

Thanks, Oakland Parent


A great sports league for those who are looking for something low-key and not terribly competitive is East Bay Flag Football (http://www.eastbayflag.com/home.php). They have a fall and a spring season, each 8-10 weeks long. They meet only on weekends, at a set day and time, for two hours, one hour of practice and one of play. The coaches are specifically taught to be supportive and make the experience all about having fun (e.g. no yelling at the kids, everyone gets to play, etc.). My son loves it, and so do I (and I'm soooo not a football person). flag football mom


Hello, For Social skills groups, check out the following for your son for January.

-- Dr Katherine McCarthy Regent St Berkeley
-- Quest Afterschool (various locations) Dr Bob Field
-- Communication Works on Keller in Oakland Sports recommendations
-- Marshall arts of some sort
-- Swim team
-- Rowing

-- Fencing

You might find Trackers a good fit or Boy Scouts (there are some very liberal, non macho, supportive troops in area) Hope this is useful Gotta a similar guy


I know this isn't exactly what you're looking for (Communication Works has more straight-up social skills groups for teens), but you might want to have your son give Abantey (the Roleplay Workshop) in Oakland a try. Right now they have some winter break holiday programs that he can try a day at a time, but they also have after-school and Saturday programs during the school year. My 12-year-old son has been doing Abantey for a year or so now, and he loves it. It is an interactive storytelling game (like a tabletop role-playing game) for youth ages 12 - 18, and can be ''a sandbox for testing social behavior in a low-stakes, fictional context.'' It is a cooperative game run by an excellent instructor who used to teach at the Archway School. Check it out at www.roleplayworkshop.com. (Link to Holiday Registration page: http://bit.ly/1TqHWch.) Good luck! Another mom


13yo needs some social skills training/therapy

Nov 2013

I think my 13 year old daughter exhibits some Aspergers like social/conversational behaviors. I also believe that it is affecting her ability to fit in socially and maintain friendships. After reading BPN and doing some research, I contacted Communication Works but they dont have any openings right now. Can anyone provide other recommendations for places where she can be assessed and/or perhaps receive some social skills therapy? Are there other parents of girls who are dealing with this issue? I'd love to hear a little about how you are handling this with your girls. worried and concerned mom of a sweet and sensitive girl


I also have a 13 yo (8th grade) daughter with social challenges. She is not ''on the spectrum'' but has anxiety, slow processing and some other mild neurodevelopmental differences. Communication Works was very helpful for us, so I suggest you get on a waiting list there. Maria Antoniadis Ph.d. In Oakland also leads groups for middle schoolers who struggle socially. Many of these groups set up at the end of the summer for a fall start, but some may have mid year openings. If you think there is an anxiety component, I would strongly suggest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I also would like to suggest a good book for middle schoolers: SOCIALLY CURIOUS AND CURIOUSLY SOCIAL, by Michelle Garcia Winner. Feel free to contact the moderator for my email. You are not alone!


I would recommend Dr. Maria Antoniadis. When my college-age daughter had problems navigating middle school, we saw Dr. Antoniadis at her Regent Street office ((510) 336-1120). I believe she has moved, so you will need to google her current contact info. It was a great help and I recommend her highly. There are three components offered: 1) individual therapy; 2) group therapy; and 3) summer horseback social skills camp. My daughter participated in the #1 and #2, which provided her with the social scaffold to navigate high school and now college. pmog


After an unproductive social skills group at Communication Works, we found Susan Diamond. I can recommend her - highly, emphatically!! My son went from being the 'weird' kid being alone after school and weekends to having friends and invites to hang out. Susan is very practical which worked for our son; giving concrete examples of what to do in any situation. Plus, she is flexible and deals with situations the kids in the group bring up, which is exactly what kids need to deal with situations as they happen. Her website is http://www.diamondlanguage.com Grateful Mom


Teen diagnosed with Social Anxiety - what now?

May 2012

Our teen has been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. While I don't disagree with the diagnosis, I am very interested in exploring Alternatives to Medication. Chinese medicine, somatic therapy, chiropractic come to mind. Has anyone else been here with their beloved kid? I'm not opposed to Meds, just would like some options and to hear other stories. Please help! A Mom


Many anxiety disorders can be helped with cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT)( classes can work, they don't have to be one on one). Any approach that uses skill's building would be good to help his/her ''tool kit'' and to pre-think events/situations that might make him/her nervous. Id' try this first. It might be great and he/she might be fine enough not to need anything else. Keep in mind that most folks need refresher courses from time to time, so you can't expect one CBT class to fix it all. If this doesn't help enough, you can try traditional one on one supportive therapy. Drugs aren't the only answer..infact for many anxiety disroders CBT is just as good as drugs! JM


Hi: I would suggest you start with Dr. Stanford Newmark at UCSF Center for Integrated Medicine. UCSF takes most insurance. His specialty is ADHD and he is very familiar with anxiety. He can recommend therapy as well as a non-prescription remedy that will help reduce anxiety w/o the side effects of meds. This made a huge difference for my anxious teen. And, continue to support your teen to help him/her overcome the anxiety. -Anonymous


Having a teenager who has overcome his social anxiety disorder I can tell you that in our experience, alternative therapies didn't help much. Some of them temporarily calmed the anxiety, but the only thing that changed his behavior and diminshed the anxiety was behavioral therapy. I can highly recommend Dr. Joanna Self. Her number is: 847-8139 and her e-mail is joannaself [at] sbcglobal.net Joanna was remarkable and very ingenius and creative with our son. She'll go the extra mile if she thinks it will help.

Our son did do meds for a short time, rx'd by a Kaiser psychiatrist, w/ no change. There is no guarantee that meds will help and I'm very anti meds unless there are no other options. Something else to consider is changing your teens diet (I know, a big challenge). Gluten sensitivity is known to be a cause of anxiety, depression, behavior problems, learning issues (not always but often). You might consider eliminating gluten for a month and see if there is any change. When my son went off of gluten (at age 8) for almost a year the change was remarkable. We also gave him high doses of Omega 3 Fish Oil, recommended by a psychiatrist, over meds. He took 4 caps per day. They helped lower his anxietey. Omega 3 is an important nervous system supplement. Hope this info helps. Good luck. Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk further. June


There are some simple protocols based on the Masgutova Method that you can do on your child. Brian Esty in SAn Francisco was very helpful to us. Some protocols you do before going into a stressful social situation, others have more long term effects. I wish you the best. Ann


Our son has been diagnosed with social anxiety as well, and we would also like to avoid meds when a good alternative exists. The recommendation for him was cognitive behavioral therapy, which has a good history of teaching people the skills they need to manage their symptoms when they are in a panic-causing situation. Like any therapy, it can be expensive, but at least it's action-driven, and intended to produce results [and have an end point!] after a few months. -jmf


Social Skills Group for pre-teen girl

Oct 2010

I'm seeking current recommendations for social skills groups/therapist for preteen girls. My daughter seems to alienate other kids while making efforts to form friendships and be accepted. She is slow to read social cues and looks for friendship in the wrong places.


My daughter attended Kathryn McCarthy's social skills group when she was 8 and benefitted a great deal from it. I highly recommend Dr. McCarthy: 2999 Regent St Berkeley, CA 94705-2146 Phone:(510) 649-3399 anon


Teenager with social anxiety

Feb 2009

I have a 17-year-old daughter who is having social anxiety issues. She is somewhat shy and feels she would like to attend a therapy group for teens who are having similar issues. Can anyone recommend a good therapist who runs such groups for teenagers? We live in Contra Costa County but would be willing to travel. anon


My friend Laura Soble (MFCC) runs teen groups for girls with different issues. I've seen her in action. She's really fabulous with kids of all ages. Laura is also school psychologist for The Raskob Day School. Her office number is:(510) 215-7300. Her office is off of Park Blvd in Oakland. Just google Laura Soble and it'll take you to her website. Good luck. June


I recommend contacting Communication Works - www.cwtherapy.com or call 510-639-2929. They are in Oakland, I don't know if that's close enough for you, and they have social skills groups. best wishes, laura


Have you considered a social skills group? My teenage daughter had some social issues in misreading others social cues and found Communication Works in Oakland to be very helpful. They had a social group consisting of a counselor, several other teens plus one model teen (without any issues) which formed a very safe and secure environment for learning and practicing various social skills. The group leader always made time at the end of their session to discuss what had gone on in session with the parents, so that we could better support our kids during the week. Check them out at www.cwtherapy.com and good luck!! Been There


Support Group for 13 year old aspie girl

Jan 2009

My 13 year old daughter has a dx of very mild PDD. While she misses social cues, she otherwise seems fairly normal. Unfortunately, she doesn't have many friends and I am wondering if there are any support groups for girls with this issue? I have heard about the role-play workshop, and am wondering if anybody has had any experience with them that they'd be willing to share. lastly, I am wondering if there are any support groups for the parents of aspie teens? thanks!!


I don't know about Asperger's per se, but my daughter w/add attended a social skills group with Dr. Kathryn McCarthy. Many of the girls had NLD, and the social skills worked on (in a very fun way) were very largely about turn-taking, checking to see if others were interested in your conversational topic, etc. I think these skills might also benefit a child w/Asperger's. Dr. McCarthy can be reached at: 510-649-3399. anon


I have to disagree with the person who recommended Kathryn McCarthy for social skills groups. She's a lovely person, but we got no feedback about the meetings or what they were working on. We were much more impressed with the speech/language therapist we saw at Communication Works. Her name is Shelley Henderson, and she has started her own private practice: Thinksocialeastbay.com. She trained with Michelle Garcia Winner, and met with us parents briefly every week following our kids' sessions. anon


Greetings. My 11 1/2 yr old son (with aspergers) has been in a social skills group for the past two years led by Shelly Hansen. She is smart and fun and creative and positive and has helped my son (& thus my family) a great deal. We adore her. Shelly has a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology and a Bachelors Degree in Child Psychology from UC Berkeley. Her office address is: 3756 Grand Ave, Suite 401, Oakland (across the street from Safeway). 510-508-9845 http://www.thinksocialeastbay.net - Ruth


Social skills group for 12-y-o with Asperger's

Oct 2008

Can anyone recommend a a social skills group for a 12 year old girl who has recently been diagnosed with asperger syndrome? mel


Kathryn McCarthy, PhD on Regent St. in Berkeley runs Social Skills Groups that are thoughtful, well planned and very effective. My 6 year old daughter is in one. She enjoys it and is clearly learning from it. Kathryn's groups vary in age and from what I can see are not co-ed--girls groups separate from boys groups. She is a great resource for our family.


Social group for 12-year-old with mild Aspergers

Nov 2007

Hello, My son is 12 and has mild Aspergers. There are no anger issues or violence etc. He just does not read body language, or voice tone very well. He is into video games, reading, and Role playing games...nothing athletic. He wants to make a 'best friend'. We are looking to find boys around the same age and diagnosis to form a support/play group. We live close to the Claremont Hotel. Please contact me if you have a child who may have similar needs. Thank you. P.K.


Hello, I may be able to help you. I run an after school, holiday and summer camp called The Roleplay Workshop. We've been working with kids since 1989. While our programs are not specifically for students with Asperger's, we've had a lot of success with Asperger's and other LD students.

Our program uses a roleplaying game called Abantey as an enrichment tool. Many youth are very interested in role playing games, as they provide an artistic outlet as well as giving them opportunities to be heroes in an imaginary setting. In the game, a group of 4-6 youth (grouped by age and experience) work together to solve a mystery or problem using the characters they create. They learn teamwork, communication and problem solving skills. Since our imaginary world is reality based, they work within a realistic setting, with real science and realistic consequences for their choices. While playing the game, they have fun and learn how to make informed choices, take action and take responsibility for the outcomes of their actions.

Students in our programs say that they love the sense of community and the creativity of the stories. Many stay involved throughout high school, and some have returned as adults to join our adult programs. Parents appreciate the variety of programs during school holidays, weekends, after school and summer, and our support of their student's school work.

We have a web page (www.roleplay-workshop.com) that includes listings of available spaces for after school, weekend and holiday programs. There are also reviews of our programs through the Berkeley Parents web site.

I wish you luck with finding an activity for your son, if our programs aren't the right fit! Rebecca Thomas; Director; Roleplay Workshop;


Social group experience for middle school girls

Nov 2007

It has been recommended to us to look for a social group experience for our 6th grade girl going to King. As in elementary school, she continues to be uncomfortable approaching her peers both at school and otherwise to chat or engage. She is quite anxious in social situations with peers but does well with adults. We are looking for recommendations for a therapist that provides a group for middle school girls to address cliques, peer pressure, popularity, changing bodies and other new challenges in this phase of life. Thanks. parent of growing pre-teen


Linda Pazdirek, MFT, facilitates a group for middle school girls. She is warm and lovely. http://www.lindapazdirek.com/girls_group.html
anon


Social skills group for 14 years old boy

Sept 2006

Hello: My 14 years old son struggles with shyness and lack of social skills. Can any of you recommend a group that focuses on these issues? Lamorinda would be most convenient, Walnut Creek and Berkeley are possible. Thanks mother


My daughter is in a social group with Maria Antoniadis PhD, 2999 Regent St, Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 649-3399. She is very good. Also I ecently saw an organization, Abilility (?), offer social groups in Berkeley, and Walnut Creek. I don't know anyone who has used that organization, but their website looks really good. annon


I'm a teacher and I've heard great things about Communication Works in Berkeley and the two speech therapists who run the social skills groups. I like that the groups are run by speech therapists who give the kids tangible language skills to use outside of group. From what I've heard they evaluate each child and fit them into a group just right for their age and particular needs. Check out their website: www.cwtherapy.com. Their phone number is 530-3085. Hope this helps! Good luck in your search


My son went to a great social skills group in Berkeley run by 2 speech therapists. They are called communication works and you can contact them by phone 510-530-3085 or at this website www.cwtherapy.com. The group was well structured and fun and the therapists are wonderful. I'm pretty sure they have groups for teens. I hope this helps. Laura


It's not in Lamorinda, but there is a group in Berkeley that teaches social skills for kids with communication and social delays. They are called Communication Works, and they have a pretty useful website, www.cwtherapy.com Good luck! anon.


Support/therapy group for 12 year old girl

Jan 2005

I am looking for a social skills support group or group therapy for my 12 year old daughter. I mainly am looking for a support group for teen concerns, particularly social ones. Anon


My 12 year old step-son has challenges with social interaction, and we have used a group therapy conducted by Dr. Kathryn McCarthy. The sessions take place right near Alta Bates hospital. It has been very helpful for him to be with other kids with similar issues in a facilitated environment. Good luck


My daughter was somewhat younger, but greatly enjoyed and benefited from Dr. Kathryn McCarthy's social skills group in Berkeley. Dr. McCarthy is at 649-3399. as


Social Skills Group for Teens

May 2004

My daughter is currently enrolled in a social skills group run by Toby Hendon, an insightful, nurturing and very skilled therapist. The group currently consists of two high school girls and two middle school girls. For next year, Toby would like to break this group up into two: one for middle school girls and one for high school girls. I recommend both groups highly. Please call Toby at 869-4534 for more information.


Anger Management Class for Middle School Boys

April 2001

Anger Management/Social Skills Group for Middle School Boys now forming. Group on Wednesdays from 4:15-5:30pm. Jewish Family & Children's Services, Berkeley. Contact: Kathy Langsam, MFT; 510/704-7475 ext. 229.


My 10-year-old son has been in Maria Antoniadis' group for a year (and if I recall correctly, we were on the waiting list at least a year before that). I think she does a great job, and in all the time we were waiting, every recommendation I received was to wait for her, that she was the best. I also have a friend who felt her son benefited from Kathryn's group.
Desmid (May 2000)