LATO believes that therapeutic groups are a viable way to help teens address trauma stemming from gun violence. When teens, who have lost a family member, a friend or a member of their community to gun violence, are given a safe and structured supportive environment to process their experiences, they intuitively understand what they need to talk about and seek to reconcile their feelings. They pursue the course that leads to empowerment so that they can participate in their community and continue their path toward adulthood.
The Bouncing Back program for young people uses a strength based approach to helping adolescents heal from the emotional and psychological effects of gun violence and other traumatic experiences. The teens are encouraged to set meaningful goals. Activities are designed to restore the natural desire for connections to other human beings, to gain a better understanding of self, and to acquire knowledge that facilitates the development of new behaviors useful for dealing with stress in their lives. A focus on resolving the traumatic effects of gun violence that effects cognitive functioning essential to learning and forming healthy relationships through the course of life is integrated into each session. The group program runs in 8 week cycles. Teens meet weekly with LATO facilitators for an hour and a half in a designated room that provides privacy and physical safety. The group consists of 8-10 young people of similar ages. Whenever possible, the group will be "closed" to new members after the third week of the cycle. This policy supports a successful outcome. The Bouncing Back program can be conducted in schools and community organizations. The program has been designed to adapt to the needs of the community being served and when possible, LATO's staff will explore ways for members of the agency, school or community to play a role in supporting the activities of the group.