A Life-Changing Social Skills Training Intervention for Teens and Young Adults

PEERS® (The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) was developed in 2005 at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, and Dr. Fred Frankel. At the time, this unique “parent-assisted” social training intervention was being heavily researched, and the research has continued. It was not long after the initial findings, word started to spread about the amazing results PEERS® was making for individuals with social struggles. At the time, UCLA offered a few trainings per year for specialists working in the field, and a limited number of groups for teens with social struggles, and “parent as social coach” groups. As the exciting results were shared through research articles, the media, and other venues, this incredible program slowly worked its way onto the radar of specialists throughout the United States, and the World. Today there are Certified PEERS® Providers in almost every state, as well as in over 23 countries.

The uniqueness and success of the PEERS® Program includes the components of being “parent-assisted”, including teaching “ecologically valid social skills”, and individualizing the teaching methods to “shared social skills deficits”. In addition, research continually validated the need for parental support, as an important component to aid in generalizing skills outside the group environment, providing guidance, and the opportunities for peer interaction. The PEERS® Program is now offered in a young adult format, due to the similarity in social struggles.

PEERS® was initially evidence-based for use with people who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder; however, it has since been shown to be successful for individuals with social and behavioral struggles, including those diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, Social Phobias, Bipolar Disorder and OCD.

The topics of instruction taught include:

  • Conversational Skills
  • Appropriate Use of Humor
  • Electronic Communication
  • Peer Entry & Exiting Skills
  • Handling Teasing, Bullying, Gossip, Arguments and Disagreements with Peers
  • Having Appropriate Get-Togethers With Friends
  • …and more.

The young adult group includes instruction on dating skills. Parents/Caregivers learn the concrete steps their teen/adult are being taught, while also learning how to become their social coach. Parents/Caregivers are able to bring valuable feedback to their Certified Provider and group, and receive guidance on how to best coach their child/adult based on this feedback.

The PEERS® manualized training intervention is a life-changer for many people. The concrete skills that are taught not only provide the individual with the social tools they need for a lifetime of success, but by the end of the 16 – week program, many of the participants have already found a social group, and have had a successful get-together with a new friend.

To learn more about PEERS®, please visit: https://www.semel.ucla.edu/peers or call Jupiter Counseling.

Contributed by Cheryl Checkers, M.S., RMHCI, UCLA Certified PEERS® Clinician

Back-to-School Food


It’s that time of year again! With the school year starting back up, life can start to feel really busy and perhaps a bit stressful. Parents and students alike experience feelings of increased stress around this time each year. Fortunately, there are easy ways to offset and avoid the back-to-school blues and stress. Exercising daily, taking time to relax, or talking with a friend or counselor are tried-and-true ways to keep calm and centered. However, there’s another technique for combating stress and fatigue that is extremely under-utilized but just as (if not more) effective -our food.

Read more about food for school lunches and snacks…

Superfood Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the most versatile, nutrient rich, and energizing foods around, making it one of my absolute favorite go-to meals. We all lead busy lives, so fueling properly at breakfast is nonnegotiable if you’re looking to sustain steady energy levels throughout the day. Fatigue, headaches, mental “fogginess”, and inability to stay focused may seem like common, unavoidable side effects of everyday life – some of you may even experience one or more of these issues daily. I am here to tell you that feeling your best, even in the midst of a chaotic, busy day, is possible, and it begins with what you’re putting into your body.

Bowl of oatmeal

What makes this oatmeal recipe an ideal breakfast option is the combination of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and high-quality protein. This triad of elements is referred to as a ‘macronutrient balanced meal’. Meals consisting solely of carbohydrates, even good-for-you complex carbs (such as a fruit & vegetable smoothie), provide fast-acting energy, but will ultimately leave you feeling hungry and low-energy shortly after. Meals high in fat and protein without complex carbs to balance them out are often too heavy on the digestive system, and will leave you feeling tired and sluggish. By creating a balance between these three nutritional elements, your body is provided with both immediate and long-lasting energy while keeping hunger and cravings at bay. Though every body is different, this tends to be a universal rule among everyone.

Read more about Superfood Oatmeal

Solar-Powered Health


So many of us are caught up with work, school, to-do lists, and social obligations that spending time outdoors tends to be saved for vacations or special occasions. According to a recent government estimate, the average American spends 90% of their life indoors. This is a grave (but easily avoidable) mistake on our part. By neglecting to incorporate the natural environment in our daily lives, we are not only missing out on the resulting health benefits, but may actually be experiencing some consequential negative health effects.

Improve Your Health

There are several scientifically proven reasons why regularly getting outside will improve your health, but vitamin D tops the list. Vitamin D is unlike any other vitamin in that our bodies actually produce it, but only in the presence of sunlight. There are very few vitamin D-rich foods, so to ensure that your body has enough of this essential vitamin you need to expose your skin to sunlight regularly. Keeping in mind that the average individual spends the vast majority of their life indoors, it’s not surprising that an estimated 75% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

Every tissue in the body contains vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system – vitamin D is needed at virtually every level for the body to function properly.

Doctors and researchers have found that vitamin D:

Read more about Vitamin D and getting outside…

What is EMDR?


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an innovative and exciting form of therapy that we are excited to offer at Jupiter Counseling. It is a therapy process that involves desensitizing negative thoughts and feelings and reinforcing positive networks of thought and feeling.

Benefits of EMDR

EMDR therapy was originally developed to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is a widely respected treatment for trauma, and is also highly effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, grief, addiction, compulsive behaviors, and adjustment to adverse life events. EMDR is also an extremely useful treatment for emotional issues that have a pattern of surfacing in relationships, such as feeling abandoned, unheard, or not good enough. Your clinician will talk to you about what issues you want to work on, and together you will identify the negative thoughts, feelings, and body sensations connected with this issue. The clinician will then do EMDR reprocessing to help you find resolution and relief.

What is the process of EMDR?

During EMDR reprocessing, you are exposed to a back-and-forth stimulation (watching a light move side-to-side, headphones buzzing back-and-forth, etc.) while your clinician guides you in thinking and talking about your targeted issue. This allows your mind to work through the issues and let in more positive and adaptive thoughts and feelings. Researchers believe the bilateral stimulation of the back-and-forth motions works similar to our REM sleep cycle, which is the phase of sleep where your eyes dart around and your mind problem solves.

EMDR therapy is recognized worldwide for its benefits and is backed by a great deal of peer-reviewed scientific research, as well as thousands of case studies. EMDR therapy is recognized and endorsed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health.

Usually a minimum of 3-5 weekly sessions is recommended for optimal results.

 For more information, you can visit www.emdria.com or call Jupiter Counseling and Wellness at (561) 575-0575.