Institute for Growth
Enhancing relationships between boys and their families, peers, and the communities in which they live
Welcome To BIG
BIG is a place where boys and parents come to learn and grow. It is for boys with common, everyday struggles like fitting in, dealing with peer pressure, or coping with divorce, as well as for those boys with more significant difficulties like ADHD, depression, anxiety, social isolation, and acting out in destructive ways.
For pre-teen and teen boys, BIG offers a chance to learn about “being male” and its wide-ranging meaning to cope with and express feelings, to make and keep good friends, and to relate more effectively with parents and siblings. Another part of BIG’s philosophy is to help boys understand, develop, and nurture their relationships with both girls and boys.
For parents, BIG provides the opportunity to learn about how boys tend to operate without pigeonholing them into traditional gender stereotypes. Parents also learn about how the larger culture influences boys and their concepts of masculinity, and what they can do to help their sons think deeply about what it means to be a man in the 21st Century. They also come to get support from other parents who may be in similar spots: wanting to be closer to their sons, feeling confused about how to effectively parent their boys, or maybe just feeling alone in their everyday struggles as busy caregivers. BIG helps parents feel less isolated and more connected to others who know about the ups and downs of parenting boys.
It’s BIG’s Mission To:
Promote emotional, social, and educational growth in boys of all ages through specialized individual/family/group therapy, peer-to-peer support, and skill building.
Empower caregivers of boys to reach their potential as parents and further enhance their relationships with their boys through focused education, parent-to-parent support, and directly working with parents and boys in therapy.
Promote awareness within the San Diego community about relevant and meaningful issues pertaining to boys through community-based trainings and activities.
Promote professional growth for colleagues and community leaders who work with boys through cutting-edge training events that address boys’ issues that include modern-day best practices.
The BIG Talk
The BIG Talk is a 2.5-hour meeting with 5th grade boys and their parents that provides foundational, medically-accurate information on the basics of puberty and reproduction. Topics include: defining puberty and understand its purpose and process; the physical, social, and emotional changes that accompany puberty; the science behind reproductive anatomy and reproduction; the story of birth, and; the similarities and differences between boys’ and girls’ puberty experiences. Separate, more advanced BIG Talks are also offered for 7th and 9th grade boys. The overarching goal is twofold: to educate the boys and to lay the groundwork for ongoing discussions between teen boys and their parents as they develop and move through adolescence.
Individual & Family Therapy
Individual/family therapy begins by scheduling a 90-minute consultation, during which time you will meet with Dr. Miller (without your son) to discuss your concerns. This meeting allows for Dr. Miller to gather relevant background information and for you to share your son’s and family’s story. Preliminary treatment goals will be discussed and, if you would like to proceed with the therapy, an initial individual session for your son will be scheduled.
Dr. Miller will then meet with your son for between 2-3 sessions to get to know him and, most importantly, gain a direct understanding of what his strengths and struggles are. If appropriate, Dr. Miller will have your son complete rating scales or self-report measures that assess his current level of social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. These measures are then examined, and the results are reviewed with your son and you. During these first sessions, treatment goals are discussed and then developed in order to plot a course for the therapy. These goals are discussed and developed with your son individually, as well as with you and your son collaboratively.
BIG’s Social Connection Groups are for boys who could benefit from concrete social skill-building and a positive social experience. Each group focuses on teaching tools to boys to help them become better connected to peers. For boys 9 years and younger, part of the content is guided by Michelle Garcia Winner’s effective Social Thinking Curriculum. For boys over 9 years, portion of the Social Thinking Curriculum, as well as other materials are utilized. With young teens, Winner’s Socially Curious and Curiously Social is used as a social thinking guidebook to help middle and high school boys navigate the murky social waters during this time of their lives.
Christopher Miller, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Miller is the Founder and Director of BIG and has worked throughout southern California as a clinical psychologist with children, teens, and families since 1999.
Dr. Leslie Miller, Ph.D.
Dr. Leslie Miller is a licensed psychologist and certified cognitive therapist with over 18 years of experience treating children and their families.
The BIG News Blog
Part of BIG’s mission is to find and distribute relevant and useful boy-related content to parents and those who work with boys. The BIG News Blog is where you can find this content, so check back regularly to look for updated posts from Dr. Miller.
All of the BIG News Blog posts can be found on the BIG Facebook page as well.
BIG Article Recommendation
When I consult with parents who want to introduce the topic of puberty and reproduction to their 5th grade sons, they are often surprised to hear that starting these talks should be happening well before 5th grade. Recently, a short but good article from the New York...
BIG Book Recommendation
I recently finished reading Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Boys by Cara Natterson, M.D. and highly recommend it for parents of boys about to enter puberty or those who have already begun and are in the midst of it. In short, it delves...
BIG Instagram Recommendations
If you and your sons are on Instagram, it’s important to take stock of what and whom you and he follow. As data pings into your son’s brain as he checks his feed, wouldn’t it be nice to have some posts that provoke meaningful thought and inspiration? Here are a few...
Are you ready to take the next BIG step?
BIG offers a variety of services for boys and young men ages 5 and above, their caregivers, and those who work with boys in different settings. Click the button to get started.