How to start and structure a mother-daughter group

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How to start and structure a mother-daughter group

The easiest way to start a group based on a mother-daughter project model is to ask another mother that you know who has a daughter about your daughter’s age if she’d like to start a group with you. And then she can start another mother that she knows and so on. It’s not necessary for all the mothers in the group to know each other before you start. What is important is that you share the common values of wanting to support your daughters growing up strong and free through adolescence, support one another as mothers and support mother-daughter relationships. Ideal size for a group is 4 to 6 mothers and it’s helpful if all the daughters are within a year or two the same age. The structure for the group is to meet once a month as mothers only to provide emotional and practical support to one another and also to create the bonds that are the foundation for a healthy group. And then to also meet once a month as mothers and daughters together. And half of those meetings are just to have fun. And that helps promote healthy mother-daughter relationships and the girls love it. The other half of the meetings you take on one of the hot issues of adolescence proactively, but also do that in a fun way.

Watch SuEllen Hamkins, MD's video on How to start and structure a mother-daughter group...


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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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