What is a friend? That’s the question posed at the beginning of a new 14-week class being offered in Chicago.
From there, socially challenged adolescents, teens and young adults learn the skills they’ll need to make friends as well as how to navigate the very real world of bullies, teasing and electronic conversations. The PEERS Social Skills Program for Teens and Young Adults is being offered in two Chicago area locations; the next session starts in September.
“What we teach is what people actually do that works,” says Fran Shapiro, one of the group’s facilitators and a certified school psychologist. “It’s a very exciting curriculum because it was all developed out of research out of UCLA. What they have developed … is pretty remarkable.”
She says she has never seen another program that so effectively teaches how to make and keep friends, start and end conversations and otherwise be comfortable around others.
“We know there is a hidden population of young adults living at home, never getting together with peers, who are either not working or vastly underemployed. It’s a silent crisis. Parents are tired, they don’t really know where else to turn, school is over, and it just seems kind of hopeless,” she says.
For more information, visit peerschicago.com. Cost is $180 a week, which includes the simultaneous peer and parent sessions.
“It has the potential to making a real lasting difference in individual’s lives, in terms of their social connections and their ability to build a good social life,” Shapiro says.