There is compelling evidence that helping adolescents develop certain traits (especially related to resiliency) can mitigate the confounding effects of suicide. Specific demographics of youth appear to have higher rates of suicidal behavior including those with mental health diagnoses and educational disabilities that affect students' academic achievement. We looked at evidence based social and emotional learning programs (SEL) that fostered adaptive coping skills and resilience. We identified Strong Teens (Carrizales-Engelmann, Merrell, Feuerborn, Gueldner, & Tran, 2016) as a program that could be easily administered and adapted into traditional and nontraditional school settings. This study was conducted in a residential treatment center (RTC) for adolescent males. The RTC permitted one of their therapists to implement the Strong Teens over the course of two consecutively run groups. Group 1 included seven boys and Group 2 included four boys. We relied on the therapist's self-assessment of modifications made to the program; the researcher's field notes collected during observations; emails between the therapist and researcher; the researcher's notes taken during conversations between the therapist and researcher; monthly Youth Outcome Questionnaire Self Report (Y-OQ-SR) test scores; youth Strong Teens pre and post test scores; and youth exit surveys conducted in one-one interviews at the conclusion of the Strong Teens lessons. Fidelity of program implementation was measured by the therapist and researcher completing the Strong Teens fidelity checklist (included in the Strong Teens manual). Based on collected data, we make the following recommendations: Adapt the Strong Teens program to increase student participation and receptiveness; carefully consider the size of the group, taking into account the capacity of the group leader to manage the group's behaviors and attend to individual needs; consider conducting groups sessions in settings that help youth feel safe and comfortable--groups held outside may be preferable to groups held inside classrooms; mental health professionals and teachers who lead the Strong Teens lessons may consider learning about a variety of basic therapeutic strategies and how these strategies might fit participants' needs; when evaluating the effectiveness of Strong Teens, carefully gather, consider, and contextualize a variety of data (quantitative and qualitative) from a variety of sources (youth participants, group leaders, and others who interact with the youth); in addition to focusing on teaching information and skills, group leaders must consider motivational strategies; focus initial conversations on why one would use such strategies to benefit oneself--later conversations may expand to include how strategies benefit others.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





residential treatment center, Strong Teens Program, program implementation, resilience, adaptive coping, suicide prevention



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Education Commons