Clinical Psychology Center hosts social skills training summer program for kids


Robert Ewing

After a successful launch last summer, the Clinical Psychology Center is again offering Arizona State University's Skills Program Inspiring and Reinforcing Excellence (ASPIRE) virtual summer skills camp.

“This year has been challenging for everyone, but students in elementary and middle school have especially struggled due to isolation and the loss of normal social interaction,” said Matt Meier, clinical associate professor and co-director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology.

Across the United States, social isolation has been a prominent feature in the lives of adults and children, but there are questions among experts whether isolation may have long-term impacts on the emotional development of grade school-aged children.

Camp ASPIRE is designed to provide a fun and supportive environment in which students can learn social and coping skills to help ease the transition back to the classroom for fall.

“Our camp teaches positive skills such as problem-solving, asking for help and stress reduction, and provides structured time for children to continue their growth over the summer,” Meier said. “We know that these are important skills that make a major difference in how students are able to handle the general stressors of life — whether it is stress over a tough test or a social situation like relationships or bullying.”

The skills camp uses fun activities, interactive games and evidence-based approaches to teach coping and social skills that will help children succeed in school and life, and it is staffed by doctoral students in the PhD clinical psychology program who have experience working with children.

Camp ASPIRE’s goals include providing a safe option for children and adolescents to socialize and make new friends, setting positive goals for the summer and beyond, building on existing strengths and developing new coping skills.

Last year, more than 100 students between third and eighth grade attended camp, and the camp aims to reach even more families this year.

The camp is offered three times this summer, with sessions beginning on June 7, June 21 and July 12. Camp is held online, with Zoom groups meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. (AZ time) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two weeks. The program is $100 per child and scholarships available based on financial need. To sign up, fill out the interest form online.