WEBB CITY, Mo. — A former school counselor now in private practice is organizing a therapy group this month for teenagers who might be struggling.

The group is for teens who feel alone and disconnected from their peers, are hard on themselves, avoid social situations to avoid failing, experience low self-esteem or are overwhelmed by strong emotions, said Travis Bolin, a counselor with Journey Towards Hope Counseling at the Mount Hope Christian Counseling Center in Webb City.

“I have a large population of teenagers that I counsel,” said Bolin, a former teacher at Harry S. Truman Elementary and school counselor at Carthage Intermediate Center. “I heard the same thing over and over of needs and wants, and thought I needed a group with teens. But I’m an adult, and they need to see that they’re not alone, and they need to hear other teenagers talking.”

Bolin last summer focused a therapy group on divorced men and single fathers. This year, he opted to work with teens because of the challenges they face — peer pressure, isolation, the need to find a peer group to which to belong.

The COVID-19 pandemic also didn’t leave teenagers unscathed, Bolin said. It brought to light or magnified issues that may have been lurking under the surface before, such as relationship problems with parents or stress with schoolwork, he said.

Bolin said teens who attend the group sessions will learn how to develop healthier relationships, be kinder to themselves, use coping skills, recognize and celebrate their strengths, and manage stress.

“We’re so used to saying, ‘One day, these teenagers will be the leaders of the Joplin area,’ but really they’re leaders now,” he said. “Teenagers are very impressionable and they need guidance, so why not give them the knowledge they need to lead for the good?”

The teen empowerment therapy group will meet from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays starting this week through July 1 at Mount Hope Christian Counseling Center, 2830 Mount Hope Road. It is open to students in the ninth through 12 grades.

The cost is $380 for all four sessions. Scholarships are available.

Reservations are requested by calling 417-434-1865.

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