Using Social Emotional Learning as a Tool to Support Students with Social Anxiety

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Grassie, Katie
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The stage of adolescence is a period marked by rapid growth, learning, adaptation and neurobiological development (Dahl et al., 2018; Gestsdottir & Lerner, 2008). Research indicates an increase in mental health issues among adolescents, specifically observing a rise in anxiety symptoms among teens (Costello et al., 2011; Ezell et al., 2019; Dahl et al., 2018). Specifically, social anxiety tends to spike during adolescence and can lead to social isolation, poor attendance at school, and development of other mental health issues (Heinrich & Gullone, 2006; Qualter et al., 2013). As adolescence is also marked with an increase in independent social connections, it is expected that adolescents rely on their own social skills to navigate various situations in their day to day lives (Hartup, 1989; Hartup & Stevens, 1999). An increase in the importance of peer connections among adolescents underlines the importance of social skills to provide a positive sense of social emotional well-being and mitigate symptoms associated with social anxiety (Dahl et al., 2018). To equipped adolescents with the social skills and self-esteem necessary to face a variety of environments and interactions, social emotional learning encompasses a wide range of themes to support this healthy development (Kothari & Wesley, 2022; Albrecht & Brunner, 2019; Case-Smith, 2013). Therefore, after discussing relevant research related to adolescent social anxiety, treatments for social anxiety, and social emotional learning, Chapter Three provides an educational workshop to support educators in incorporating social emotional learning into the middle school classroom in explicit, engaging, and meaningful ways to support students experiencing social anxiety.
social anxiety , adolescents , social emotional learning , professional development
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