NUTLEY, NJ — February 4, 2013 — A new program that brings teen-aged boys together to candidly address social skills is helping them make new friends, reduce fights, and behave better in school through the 10-week-group sessions.

"Our latest group really clicked," said Engin Bahce, a clinical therapist with LifeWorks Counseling, LLC. "Everyone learned not to be judgmental of each other's opinions and to respect each other. But they also knew the sessions had a purpose – we were not just here to relax."

The "Got Skills?" program recently met once each week at the LifeWorks Counseling Center in Nutley. Some of the teens had been getting in trouble in school, or had challenges making friends, or were getting in fights. The teens talked about understanding their own feelings and interpreting the feelings of others.

A second session is planned for the end of February, and an inaugural group for teenaged girls will be starting then as well.

"We do a lot of role playing," Bahce said of the boys' group. "What do you do when someone starts to fight with you? We talked about first impressions and making friendships. We talked about body language and about developing empathy for others."

Bache said he believed some of the teens opened up about their feelings to peers for the first time; reports back from parents have been positive. One teen who had trouble making friends was invited to join peers for several gatherings following the workshops.

"At the end we had a pizza party," Bahce said. "These boys really enjoyed being part of something positive and inclusive. "

The "Got Skills?" program is one of three teen programs organized by LifeWorks Counseling LLC, which has offices in Verona and Nutley.

Another 10-week workshop helps teens manage their anger and lead more successful, happy lives.

The third, "It's A Girl Thing," helps teen girls handle issues building self-esteem and the difficult world of middle and high school relationships.

LifeWorks Counseling was created by two compassionate, goal-oriented counselors who joined forces: Gina M. Unger, LCSW, and Ingrid E. Burke, LCSW.