Youth Cooperation and Coping
Center for Health Promotion – Akershus University Hospital
Pilot project 2013-2014

Program overview

The pilot project Youth Cooperation and Coping was locally organized, implemented and evaluated by Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) at the Center for Health Promotion in 2013-2014. This pilot site had long research-based experience in conducting groups for adolescents. The project involved implementing educational group-based counseling programs in three groups: 1) adolescents from 12-16 years of age with long-term health problems, 2) young adults from 17-26 years of age with long-term health problems, 3) their parents/relatives. The primary objective of the pilot project was to was to implement and examine a program that, if successful, could encourage the start-up of several group initiatives. In the past there were few options for group-based services, (independent of one’s diagnosis), particularly for youth. We wanted to reach more adolescents and young adults with a health promoting measure that could provide them with better opportunities to live with their long-term health problems.

Films with testimonials from past group participants

Group session outline

Primary goal of group intervention

That participants have the opportunity to discover more about themselves and their situation. That they are able to use their own inherent resources in a more targeted way, allowing them to see new opportunities and find better ways to navigate life. This is a process, in which new discoveries provide a basis for greater selfunderstanding. Furthermore, increasing one’s own self-understanding can lead to better relationships, communication and increased participation.

Session 1 – Me, as an adolescent

AIM: To create a sense of security and belonging within the group. To get to know each other and create a group dynamic/framework. By presenting themselves and their story, group members become more self-aware. Here, the topic of utilising one’s own inherent resources despite having long-term health challenges is central. Another aim of the session is to share and discuss what it is like to be an adolescent in today’s world.

Session 2 – What is important to me?

AIM: To discover that there is something important for each adolescent, something that keeps them going and helps them to cope with the situations they encounter in their everyday lives. To help participants find ”health” within themselves by utilising their strengths and inherent resources. We encourage participants to discover new ways to express and articulate themselves, both through dialogue with other participants and through exercises under the supervision of professional group leaders.

Session 3 – Emotions & reactions

AIM: To give participants the opportunity to discover more about their own emotions. We discuss how emotions are connected to one’s own thoughts and reactions, which, in turn, can help one better understand how and why they experience different situations the way they do. In this session, we also discuss the topics of one’s own body and self-esteem: ”To be good enough.” Emphasis is placed on participants’ knowledge of the spectrum of emotions and what contributes to the experiences of joy and mastery.

Session 4 – Relationships – my social network

AIM: To become familiar with how people influence each other; what characterizes good relationships and what can promote positive interactions between oneself and parents, siblings, relatives. Participants share their experiences regarding how youth can develop great friendships with peers. Participants can also discover and become more aware of what happens within their social network. Through examples of what encourages good communication and interaction between peers, adolescents improve their ability to navigate such interactions and develop relationships further.

Session 5 – Family and friends

AIM: In this session, we continue with the topic of relationships – the important aspects, but also the challenges they encounterin their close relationships. To explore and experience how the mind can be used for mastery and how the adolescents can help drive how they experience their illness, how much it space it occupies in their mind – as well as the importance of coping and independence.

Session 6 – Strong in my own life

AIM: To facilitate self-discovery and self-reflection so that they are able to become aware their own strength and their own needs. Furthermore, to learn how resources and needs can be communicated within the health sector. To see the future as more manageable and meaningful, and demand rights and restrictions when needed. We also discuss interacting with various stakeholders in the healthcare system, such as physicians and health professionals within hospitals, as well as in schools. We conclude the session with an evaluation of the group project/sessions.