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2008-09 School Year Program
(Runs from October - May)

Office:  (818) 788-2100     Fax:  (818) 530-4123

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Brief Summary

This program is designed for students aged 7 years old to 13 years (child group) and 13 to 18 years (adolescent group) who have difficulties with basic and pragmatic social skills, executive functioning skills and academic readiness skills.  The program includes:

  • 5 direct-student contact hours over 2 sessions held twice monthly on Wednesdays (children) and Thursdays (adolescents)
  • One-to-four staff to student ratio
  • In session and online data collection
  • Session raffles
  • LUNCH Points Home Behavior Generalization Program
  • Parent support component (alternates monthly between in office meetings while kids are in a different activity and teleconferences from families' homes - don't worry if you're not computer literate, we'll walk you through the process)
  • Pre-assessment to determine needs and specific goals.  Pre-assessment consists of telephone interview, Rapid Screener administration, in-person interview, and discussion with other treating clinicians.
  • Going out to eat each session.  This allow students to practice a variety of social, environmental awareness, and related skills in a naturalistic setting.

The group meets twice monthly from 4:30pm to 6:45pm.  We conduct a pre-assessment for all students who have not previously participated in our programs at a cost of $250.  You will receive a report that indicates your child's current level of social-emotional functioning plus behaviors to target.  If your child is accepted into the group, the monthly charge, which includes all services is $330.66 plus a $35 monthly materials fee.  We accept private payment and will prepare an insurance statement upon request.  This program is approved for  Regional Center funding and we accept NonPublic Agency school district contracts.

Referring Regional Center Clients
View data from this summer
View our data from prior programs
Research supporting the interventions used in the L.U.N.C.H. Program


The L.U.N.C.H. Group School Year Program was developed by Dr. Bruce Gale, a San Fernando Valley-based clinical psychologist to help children and adolescents with social skills and executive functioning challenges which can affect academic performance. Social skills are those behaviors we engage in daily to get along with others. Executive functioning skills include the ability to control our emotions, pay attention, plan and organize our behavior, monitor performance, and to develop new plans and strategies to effectively problem-solve.

The focus of treatment in general is to create an enjoyable, stimulating, and motivating environment where students can learn about and have opportunities for practicing a variety of positive behaviors.  As in past programs, there will be a link between group meetings, where the students can participate face to face, and the ability to report about progress when not in the group. We have significantly increased the amount of support available to family members, especially parents and siblings of participating students.

Past attendees have worked on the following types of problems:

  • Difficulty socializing effectively with peers
  • Difficulty managing changes in routines
  • Excessive worries, fears, or rigidity that interfere with daily functioning
  • Trouble managing impulses or anger
  • Challenges with shyness
  • Inability to make and keep friends
  • Avoidance of new foods or reluctance to try new activities
  • Trouble coping with minor, everyday problems
  • Overreacting to minor events
  • Difficulty maintaining interesting conversations with others
  • Problems maintaining pedestrian safety
  • Difficulty staying organized and procrastination
  • Staying up too late or arriving at school late
  • Forgetting or losing things, needing constant reminders to complete chores
  • Refusal to complete activities or follow directions the first time they are given

Children and adolescents who have a variety of challenges have participated in our program. Sometimes, families request that their child only be with other children having the same diagnosis. We have found that, by including children with many different kinds of challenges and varying strengths, we better approximate life in the real world. Beyond that, it has been helpful to work with children having different challenges as a group. In this manner, one child’s strength may serve as an appropriate model for another child’s weakness.

L.U.N.C.H. is an acronym and stands for Learning, Understanding, Negotiating, Communicating, and Helping. The program concept was originally developed at a local public school and was run as a time-limited program on that campus. Since then, it has been run through Dr. Gale’s private practice. This year, we are expanding several elements of the program in an attempt to improve treatment outcomes further and to facilitate maintenance of gains after the program ends.

Students who participate in the program often have a range of diagnoses including:

  • ADHD or Asperger's Syndrome
  • Social Anxiety Disorder or Selective Mutism
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Mild Depression
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Shyness, Selective Mutism
  • Semantic-Pragmatic and Nonverbal Learning Disorders

Some students do not have a formalized diagnosis, but rather, have traits of shyness, difficulty making or keeping friends, paying attention, trouble maintaining conversations, or difficulty controlling anger or other impulses.

Experience has indicated that students come in many sizes, shapes, and types of problems.  By accepting a broad range of students, we ensure that some children's weaknesses are likely to be areas that appear as a strength for a peer.  This allows for modeling and behavioral rehearsal opportunities.

We do not accept students into this program with the following: 

  • Mental retardation,
  • Classical autism (except for very High-Functioning Autism)
  • Violence at school during the past year,  (Does not include oppositional behavior or fighting with siblings)
  • Active psychosis within the past two years
  • Substance abuse within the past two years.

If you have children with these problems or diagnoses, call us anyway and we will help you find another group for your child to attend via our resource list.

Examples of behaviors students work on 

  • Listening to others and remaining on topic
  • Bringing up topics without going into excessive details
  • Recalling what has been said and being able to summarize more effectively
  • Modulating voice volume to be easily heard by others (not too loud or too soft)
  • Checking out whether others are interested in topics of discussion
  • Being able to understand or state how someone else might be perceiving a situation
  • Understanding the importance of sufficient sleep and healthy eating habits
  • Tolerating another expressing a different opinion without becoming rude
  • Controlling being angry or impulsive, and learning to negotiate if something seems unfair
  • Trying new foods
  • Working on meal manners in an indirect and non-confrontational manner
  • Practicing pedestrian and safety skills
  • Beginning activities more easily, persisting on tasks, ending activities efficiently and successfully
  • Transitioning between activities
  • Organizing and planning activities
  • Functioning as a group without difficulties
  • Thinking more independently and developing effective coping strategies for common situations
  • Following requests the first time they are made
  • Understanding the difference between anger and assertiveness
  • Understanding what creates friendships and what can cause problems
  • Working both individually, as part of a team, and on a classroom-wide basis without engaging in interfering behaviors

Meeting Information

LUNCH Group Drop off/Pick up Students attend the program twice monthly for 2.25 hours each session.  Approximately 65 to 90 minutes are spent in the office followed by going out to eat or having a group BBQ in the outdoor courtyard of the building.  Families drop off their children at Gelson's, next door and pick up in the same place.

Families are not required to commit to the entire school year, however we require a minimum commitment of 4 months (8 sessions).  It generally takes new students about four sessions to fully understand and be able to participate effectively during the remainder of the program.




Program Description

Lack of Communication comic by Bruce GaleComic by Bruce Gale

The program is highly structured, starting with the very first session.  Upon arriving, the students learn each other's names, then watch a demonstration of the kinds of technology used in the program.  What we do is constantly evolving, however below is a sample of the kinds of projects we have done this year (click on any of these to view samples).

Projects Completed by 2007 Kids

Projects Completed by 2006 Adolescents

Projects Completed by 2006 Children

Sample Animations from Prior Groups

2004 Adolescents
(shockwave file)

These animations were created by the groups. They are designed to address some aspect of socialization, but the emphasis is on what happens in the group, not the animation itself.

2004 Child Program
(shockwave file)


2005 Adolescents (windows media file)

Sample PowerPoints from Prior Groups
(shockwave files)

Winter 2004
Child Group
Final PowerPoint

These PowerPoint demonstrations show one of the ways we work to build concept-retention. By developing information through group discussion, then reviewing and expanding on this information, the students have repeated exposure opportunities

Winter 2004
Adolescent Group
Final PowerPoint

During the initial two sessions, the following occurs:

  • Develop their own rules for how they wish the group to run

  • Choose rewards to earn during the raffles, held monthly every 2-3 sessions

  • Create nicknames so any animation or other projects that might appear on the web do not reveal personally identifiable information

  • Discuss what kinds of foods they like to eat

  • Discuss areas each student wishes to change during the course of the program

  • Types of foods they like and do not like

  • Discuss what kinds of parental behavior they find helpful and those they wish could change

During subsequent sessions, the students select different projects they wish work on as one large group or sometimes, by breaking up into smaller groups of 4 to 6 students.  We combine use of PowerPoint for organizing with using standard flip charts.  This method for facilitating group discussions was piloted during our 2006 summer program and proved highly successful.  The act of writing on the flip charts is done by one of the counselors (see below) or can also be done by a student. 

The primary goal of the L.U.N.C.H. is not to use technology or just go out to eat, but rather to promote group process and interaction, consideration for others, learning when to speak up and when to wait, practicing conflict resolution, learning to be more tolerant when things do not go smoothly, and other skills necessary for success at home and in school.

Different Students/Different Strengths

Students who are more extroverted receive guidance on how to express their own ideas, while listening to and incorporating other students' input.  Students who are more introverted are encouraged to speak up more loudly and clearly.  All students are prompted and reinforced for expressing their ideas in a clear and understandable manner to their peers.

Sometimes, families worry that their children are just coming in to "play with computer."  In fact, the students do not use computers directly, they provide input to Dr. Gale or another assigned staff regarding particular projects or use the flip charts.  Students do have opportunities to use digital cameras and video equipment.


Social skills are needed in a variety of situations. One of the biggest problems with groups is that they fail to provide sufficient opportunities to practice and rehearse skills discussed in the formal group meetings. In this program, there are assignments that naturally fit into the structure of mealtimes. Some meals may occur in the outside courtyard, while others will occur at nearby restaurants. Even the process of deciding where to eat creates an important opportunity for group members to practice listening, negotiating, and problem solving skills. In some ways, group members are actually working pretty hard at meals; it just doesn't feel like work. We will visit a variety of restaurants, from “fast food” to “healthy.” The cost of meals is included in the program. The restaurants selected are nearby and the restaurant owners work to make the group experience productive. If your child has any dietary restrictions or food allergies, be certain to list them on the intake form.


We work on a variety safety-related behaviors during the group and try to do this responsibly and carefully. This includes everything from practicing how to get into and out of chairs to opening doors; street, automobile, and pedestrian safety. You will notice the chairs around the tables are slightly close together,  just as they might be in other settings. This is by design. I looked at several table and chair combinations before purchasing this for my office. Even the arrangement of the tables is designed to facilitate navigation skills. The children I have seen over the years seem to get bruises and minor injuries more often than their peers; they have difficulty with navigating safely around their environment and do not seem as aware of common hazards.

I have learned of clients who have been struck by cars because they did not practice safe street-crossing techniques. This is one of the reasons we go out daily. It provides an opportunity to practice these skills, along with other community skills, such as how to speak to others while walking or when in a restaurant. I have never had a student experience an injury in my programs other than a very minor scrape on the skin as they went through a door during the five years of this program or during the 14 years my adult programs have been running.

About Confidentiality

I'm often asked what steps I take to ensure your child's confidentiality in the sessions, out in the community, and especially involving any uses of technology and/or the Internet. Confidentiality in the sessions has never been a problem, as one of the rules discussed early on is that no one is permitted to talk about anything anyone else says outside of group. We practice situations where two group members inadvertently run into each other outside the session to remind members that, in greeting their peer, it is important to refrain from identifying them as a member from group.

In the community, the restaurant owners of those establishments I most frequently take group participants have been extremely tolerant and understanding. Some of them know that I am a psychologist and assume that the group I have brought in might need some level of special care and attention. As for the technology and Internet, any videotaping of the group that occurs during the sessions is not released to anyone outside of the session. I frequently use brief vignettes of videotape in the courses that I teach or when I do training with school districts.

Any information that your child completes using the Internet is also devoid of any personal identifying information. The group will decide what nicknames the members want to be identified by and this is approved by parents. You will be able to review any information completed by all participants, but will only be given the identifying information to see what your child has written.


Pre-Assessment:  Every child entering our program participates in an initial assessment, consisting of the following:

  • Completion of 3 behavior surveys

    • Current level of adaptive behavior (Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised - completed by one parent)

    • Executive functioning (planning organization, emotional control, working memory (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - completed by one parent and one teacher, if available)

    • Social-emotional functioning and social skills (Rapid Screener, completed by one or both parents and all teachers or educational staff who know the student)

  • Parent/Child Interview (30 minutes)

  • Interview with other treating professionals or school staff

The information gathered during the assessment process is used to determine what areas are most important to address during the group sessions.  We reassess progress after six months to determine the level of success in targeted areas.

Progress Monitoring & Feedback

We generate a progress reports on your child's progress in the group as well as a summary when your child completes the program.  These reports include:

  • Observations of behavior during sessions

  • Results from Rapid Screener

  • Results from LUNCH Points

Counselors/Staffing Ratios

During sessions, our trained college staff provides your child with guidance, structure, and reinforcement throughout the program under the direct supervision of Dr. Gale (the majority are psychology majors, all are enthusiastic and have experience in the field). We maintain a 4:1 staff to student ratio during the program.  This helps us provide more individualized positive reinforcement and modeling for each student plus increases interaction between students, when needed.

Family Participation

Parents have an opportunity to participate simple to use, yet state-of-the art, teleconferences.  To participate, just use your browser to view a web site and dial a US toll number on your phone.  You will see exactly what your child is working on in group and have a chance to participate in live discussions with Dr. Gale and other families.

Based on the feedback from the Summer 2006 parents, additional "parent get-togethers" or meetings may be scheduled during the year.  There is no charge for attending these additional meetings, other than the associated food costs.  Meetings will be held at nearby restaurants or at the home of one of the group members, to be determined.

Fees & Payment

  • Payment for the initial assessment must be made in order to begin the assessment process.

  • Group fees are billed in two month increments.

  • Families who have participated within the past six months are not required to pay for an Initial Assessment.

Service Description


Initial Assessment


Monthly Group Fees

$365.66 (includes $35 monthly materials fee for meals and rewards)

We accept checks, credit cards (2% additional fee),
Regional Center funding, and School District contracts.



Call our office at (818) 788-2100 or use our email link.