Indiana State University Newsroom

Help for children with social skills deficits available

January 26, 2017

Indiana State University doctor of clinical psychology students will offer a second social skills cohort for children who have high-functioning autism, anxiety or ADHD with social skills deficits.

The group will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday from March 22 to May 3 at Indiana State's Psychology Clinic in Root Hall, located at 424 N. Seventh St. Parents can call the clinic at 812-237-3317 to register their child for the free service.

Last fall, under the supervision of licensed psychologist and Indiana State professor Liz O'Laughlin, Rachel Magin, '19, and Erin McTiernan, '19, led the first group of around five children, ages 6-9, in seven sessions of theater and improv games.

"Role playing with theater games gets you out of your head and trying new things," Magin said. "When we did the social skills group in the fall, we did games that worked specifically on several different social skills - eye contact, assertiveness, listening, how to introduce yourself and deal with anxiety. The kids started doing a lot better as the group progressed, and there were times at the end that I could really start to see things clicking."

Magin developed the social skills group in 2013 for her psychology thesis at Union College in New York, where she double majored in psychology and theater.

"The group (at Indiana State) was different and fun from the first time I ran it, and it's always good to have a new dynamic," she said. "This is a way to help kids to feel safe to try new things."

Because Magin and McTiernan will graduate this spring, Magin said there will be a third doctor of clinical psychology student helping conduct the group and lead the class in the future.

Parents said they noticed changes in their children and their use of skills they learned in the group.

"Every other session, Erin (McTiernan) will also run a parenting group with the parents to talk about how to manage their child's anxiety, social skills and behavioral problems and some behavioral interventions with the parents and provide handouts and information on how to handle the disorders," Magin said.


Contact: Psychology Clinic, Indiana State University, 812-237-3317

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or