With an increase in the number of teenage girls in this country at risk for delinquency on the rise, the authors of the exploratory study developed a group counseling intervention strategy that focused on holistic wellness. The Smith-Adcock, Webster, Leonard, and Walker (2008) defined holistic wellness by focusing on the the Wheel of Wellness model developed by Myers, Sweeney, and Witmer (p. 112). The model focuses on five main aspects of wellness: self-direction, work and leisure, friendship, love, with spirituality at the core.
The purpose of the study was to examine how girls at risk for delinquency understand the concepts of wellness listed above and how the group intervention would increase their knowledge and understanding. The authors developed an 8 session group counseling model. Each session lasting one hour, meeting twice a week for 4 weeks. In addition to group discussion art therapy techniques, relaxation techniques, and meditation were also used.
The participants in the study were female students at an alternative school in the southeastern part of the US. Students at the school were referred for various reasons such as mental health issues, teen pregnancy, suspension and expulsion from previous schools. Participants in this study came from the the 9th and 10th grade and had to bring back a signed permission from their guardians to participate.
The final group consisted of 10 girls (ages 13-17, both European American and African American). During the study, 2 girls left the school, so they ended with 8 girls after the 8 sessions (Smith Adcock et al., p. 114)
An assessment based on the Wheel of Wellness model called the ‘Wellness Evaluation of Lifestyle inventory as well as an open-ended questionnaire was taken by each of the participants prior to and after completing the sessions. In addition, the sessions were taped so that the authors could review.
The authors used the data from the assessments and questionnaires along with notes from the sessions to create themes and derive results. The following themes were observed: pessimistic view of self and the world, problematic relationships with family, recognition of inner strength and resilience, and a broadened view of wellness (Smith-Adcock et al., p. 117). Of the results, the major task of the study was to examine the girls’ understanding of wellness.
The authors determined by the qualitative data that the group was indeed effective in helping the girls to understand and change their views of wellness in their lives. This study adds to the literature on wellness of the adolescents and emphasizes the importance of holistic approach.
The young women in this study showed a greater understanding of wellness as well as greater understanding of their own strengths as they built relationships with their peers in this counseling group. In addition to the qualitative research and themes found during the sessions, the authors used likert scales to assess the before and after levels of wellness through the assessments that were used.
While it was a good study with positive results that affirm the power and effectiveness that these groups can have with adolescent girls, there were limitations. The study was done on a very small sample population and as such the authors had to mainly rely on qualitative results. Another limitation was the authors were not able to do a follow up with those involved because of the transitional nature of the school. Follow up sessions would have allowed the authors to assess the long term effects that this type of group has on students’ views and understandings of personal wellness.
The authors of this article stressed the importance of spiritual health as core of holistic wellness. Just as we as believers are called to take care of our spiritual health, we are also called to take care of ourselves as a whole being. The Bible states in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
This study focused on the many different areas that are important to understand when working with teen girls. The groups empowered the the girls to better understand themselves, their life goals, self-care, self worth, etc. The group environment also provided an outlet and model for healthy relationships which was especially important to these girls with problems in their families. This study stressed the importance for counselors to understand and promote wellness as they focus on the strengths and resilience of their clients.
The authors encouraged that there be more research done on at risk adolescent girls from a strengths-based perspective as well as more research on wellness opposed to problems and dysfunction. A strengths based perspective focuses on resilience and a adolescents inner strengths. This perspective has been a focus of many recent studies as researchers have seen positive results in many different disciplines. It was suggested that more research be done on group work in relation to wellness.
Smith-Adcock, S., Webster, S., Leonard, L., & Walker, J. (2008). Benefits of a holistic group counseling model to promote wellness for girls at risk for delinquency: An exploratory study. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 47, 111-126.