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From Graduation to the Real World

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  It’s graduation season here at The Choice Group! Students are completing the Project SEARCH and PEERS programs and preparing to enter the world armed with new life skills.  A Choice Group counselor recently ran into a PEERS graduate and his mother, who spoke highly of employment opportunities and her son’s newfound friend group. She credited his successful employment and social life to the PEERS classes he took in high school. It is a beautiful feeling to see the skills learned in these programs being used as a tool for success in the everyday lives of our graduates.  In the PEERS program, young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who have difficulty with social skills, are offered a class that provides instruction and support which teach social skills and help promote a sense of unity in the skills learned in the young adult’s home, community, and on their job site. The Project SEARCH program created a model for students with significant disabilities to learn how to make a success

Continue to Soar with PEERS

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Zachary Sisisky, who works in Behavioral Management at The Choice Group, just finished up another 16-week PEERS course. The PEERS curriculum was developed by UCLA and is designed for young adults with Autism who are motivated to make friends but have difficulty with social skills.  Sisisky led a class of six participants through skills training and social courses that included behavioral rehearsal activities, homework, and role-play demonstrations. As a PEERS counselor, it is Sisisky’s job to help motivate his students to make friends and to apply the skills they learn in this course to their everyday lives.  A new PEERS session will be starting another virtual class this fall with 6-8 people. An unexpected benefit of running the course virtually is being able to have people join from across the state. From Winchester, to Charlottesville, to Richmond, the broader reach is something that our counselors have enjoyed.  For more information on The Choice Group or The PEERS curriculum visit

How The Choice Group Counseling Program Leads To Employment Success

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At The Choice Group, the goal of counseling is to provide a safe, accepting, and non-judgmental place where individuals can explore issues in confidence. Our goal is for the therapist and client to become a team that explores the client’s strengths, values, fears, and difficulties together. Many of our clients are on the autism spectrum. One such client had been told by a previous employer that he was never going to be able to hold a professional position. Before working with The Choice Group, this individual didn’t have a job coach and was terminated from many previous positions due to challenges with interacting with female coworkers. When The Choice Group manager Shadi Zadeh first met this client about six years ago, he was in his forties, held a Ph.D., and had been working off-and-on for years. By working with our counseling program, he has held down a position as an engineer making $42 an hour with the opportunity for consistent raises and the trust to work from home. Our client

Project SEARCH Helped Sean Find His Passion

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  Rita Dee, a counselor on our Hampton Roads team, has seen first-hand how our Project SEARCH program sets our clients up for success. Sean Thomas-Rowe completed the program five years ago and, since Rita came on board as his counselor, she has seen how well Sean has done in his professional role.  In 2017, Sean accepted a position working with a non-profit that helps families build and improve potential places they can call home. He is in charge of updating the website and handling graphic design requests from his management team. Rita credits Sean’s positive impact at work to his interest in computers, his ability to master programs like Photoshop, and his background in website coding. Seans’ evaluations are always outstanding. His graphic designs have been used on multiple flyers, T-Shirts, and on the website. He has an extreme level of dedication, often double-checking work orders as a part of his routine and honing his graphic design skills in his spare time.   Rita has encouraged

Staple Programs Provide Social Skills That Lead to Success

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Since The Choice  in 1998, our CEO, Chris Lavach makes sure every program reflects our mission of being a commitment to excellence in meeting our clients’ needs while respecting their individuality and right to make life choices. That can definitely be said about our Afterschool Pathways and Pre-ETS programs.  The Afterschool Pathways program is a job readiness club that is a group service available to transition students and can take place in high schools, in the community and virtually. Focusing on pre-employment and the five core areas outlined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA), activities can include career interest inventories, job exploration counseling, workplace readiness training to develop social and independent living skills, counseling on postsecondary education and training opportunities, instruction in self-advocacy, and financial literacy. Students finish the program with a digital portfolio that includes a resume, completed application and c