Although no parents will be allowed to attend the discussion sessions, D'Amico said he would be glad to confer with parents or any other professionals such as teachers or guidance counselors, at any time. However, he added, he obviously could not communicate specifically what was discussed during the sessions, unless he was given permission to do so.
D'Amico, who specializes in adolescent and family psychology, said he was forming the group because "a growing number of adolescents are turning to each other for support."
The group will meet only twice a month. D'Amico, however, said he hoped that members would form friendships and turn to one another outside the meetings as well.
The group is open to any students who feel they need support. There is no charge to participate.
"It can pertain to the high-achieving kid who keeps his feelings bottled up inside him, or to those who are dealing with academic failure or acting out more."
One of his goals, he added, is to allow group members to learn how to form relationships in a way that can be carried on after they leave.
One advantage provided by a peer group of this type, said D'Amico, is that many young people feel threatened by the idea of one-on-one sessions with a psychologist. "They feel self-conscious in that situation, and don't know what is expected of them."
If the group is successful, said D'Amico, one of his associates will start a similar group for students 11 to 15 years old. He probably will not be able to open the older group up to many more than 10 members, however, because it would become too unwieldy.
"I wanted to start this group, because I really believe in adolescents, I believe in this population," D'Amico said.
Teenagers interested in joining the group should call 525-1510 for information.