Eastwood Psychologists

Secret Agent Society ® (SAS)

What is SAS?

Secret Agent Society ® (SAS) is a small group cognitive-behaviour therapy program that uses a spy-based theme to help children crack the code of emotions and friendships.  With the support of therapists and parents (who also participate in the program), children learn to recognize and cope with difficult emotions, adapt to change, make and keep friends, and solve problems.  Secret Agent Society ‘cadets’ learn the social-emotional tools they need prepare them for life’s social and emotional challenges.

For more information about the program, visit the Social Science Translated website, http://www.sst-institute.net/ and watch the video below.

How does it work and who is it for?

The SAS program is delivered via a gamified, online learning platform that features animated, spy-themed characters and engaging activities.  Participants bring their own device (computer or iPad) to each group session, and access the curriculum online, while working together and interacting with each other in the same space.  Each week builds on what was learned the week before, so commitment to the entire program is required.

Parent participation is also an important part of the SAS program.  Parents learn along with their children, and play a key role in supporting their children to apply newly learned skills to their day-to-day lives.

At Eastwood Psychologists, SAS is facilitated by licensed psychologists with many years of experience working with children who have a wide range of social-emotional concerns.  SAS is appropriate for children and youth who are struggling to cope with anxiety or anger, and who are struggling with social skills/relationships.  To be able to benefit from the program, children/youth need good language comprehension and expression skills.

What do children learn?

  • How to recognize simple and complex emotions in themselves and others
  • How to read nonverbal cues (facial expressions, body language)
  • How to express feelings in appropriate ways
  • How to cope with feelings of anger and anxiety
  • How to start, continue, and end conversations and play activities with others
  • How to collaborate in groups and activities
  • How to tell the difference between friendly joking and mean teasing
  • How to manage bullying
  • How to cope with making mistakes
  • How to handle new situations and ask for help when needed
  • How to make friends
  • How to manage transitions and cope with uncertainty

Program Format

  • Intake interview (1 hour). During this meeting the psychologist will gather information about your child and determine whether the program will meet your family’s needs.
  • Initial parent group meeting (2 hours). Parents meet as a group and learn about the program and how they will support their child’s progress.
  • 9 child group meetings (90 mins each)
  • 9 parent group meetings (45 mins each)
  • 2 follow up sessions (90 mins each). Includes a small party and graduation ceremony.
  • Home missions: Children play the Secret Agent Society computer game between sessions and complete ‘home missions’ with parent guidance.
  • Teacher tip sheets: Parents are provided with tip sheets to pass on to their child’s teacher. Teacher tip sheets provide recommendations for how school staff can support children’s social development and create a friendly and caring learning environment.

While SAS is primarily a group-based intervention, it is possible to deliver the program one-on-one.  Contact us for more information.

How Effective is it?

Several trials conducted in both university and community settings, including four randomized controlled trials (RCTs), have demonstrated the effectiveness of SAS in enhancing children’s emotion regulation and social skills. One study of children aged 8 to 12 with Asperger’s Syndrome who exhibited significant delays in social functioning, found that about 75% of the treatment group displayed social skills within the range of typically developing children after participating in the SAS program. These improvements in social skills and emotional regulation were observed both at home and school, and were maintained for a period of five months after completion of the program.

SAS can also be delivered to children – or adolescents – outside of the evidence-based 8 to 12 years of age, in instances where their skill development goals as well as emotional and intellectual abilities and interests are suited to the program. Contact us to see if the program is recommended for your child/youth.

Location and Cost

We offer SAS either in-person at our clinic in downtown Brampton, or online to families residing anywhere in Ontario.  Please note that all participants in a group must engage using the same format (i.e., it is not possible for some children to attend in-person while others participate online).

Please contact our office to see if the program is recommended for your child/teen, and to find out more about our current fees and service delivery options.

Families with Core Clinical Services funding through the Ontario Autism Program may use their funding to pay for their child’s participation in SAS.  Families with extended health benefits covering psychological services may submit their receipts for reimbursement.