SPARCS is a group intervention that was specifically designed to address the needs of chronically traumatized adolescents who may still be living with ongoing stress and are experiencing problems in several areas of functioning. These areas include difficulties with affect regulation and impulsivity, self-perception, relationships, somatization, dissociation, numbing and avoidance, and struggles with their own purpose and meaning in life as well as worldviews that make it difficult for them to see a future for themselves. Overall goals of the program are to help teens cope more effectively in the moment, enhance self-efficacy, connect with others and establish supportive relationships, cultivate awareness, and create meaning.
Groups are one hour in length and have been provided in a variety of settings including outpatient clinics, schools, group homes, boarding schools, residential treatment centers and facilities, and foster care programs. Sessions can be divided into two segments and conducted twice a week to accommodate class periods in a school setting. It is recommended that SPARCS be implemented in settings where adolescents can remain in treatment long enough to complete the intervention. SPARCS is predominantly cognitive-behavioral and draws upon Dialectical Behavior Therapy (Miller, Rathus & Linehan, 2007), Trauma Adaptive Recovery Group Education and Therapy (TARGET: Ford & Russo, 2006), and the UCLA Trauma/Grief Program (Layne, Saltzman, Pynoos, et. al., 2002).