All Summer Groups are Closed - Use Contact form for School Year

We have stopped accepting referrals for our Summer 2019 Social Learning program for high school age students. Based upon the treatment model used in our School Year Programs, we focus on the same set of behaviors and skills (executive function, pragmatic language, social competence, daily living, academic readiness, and environmental awareness). In summer, however, the learning experience occurs in the community rather than office-based settings. Parent orientation sessions, support and education is provided as well. All groups meet from 9am-4pm. See below for details.

In all of our summer programs, the students spent about 20% of the time in the office and 80% of the time out in the community. We do this in order to provide real-life opportunities to practice executive function, pragmatic skills, and social competence as part of our program model:

  • Group 1: 8-11 Yr Olds - Starts June 10 and meets MWF until June 28 (63 hrs).

  • Group 2: 11-13 Yr Olds - Starts July 8 and meets MWF until July 26 (63 hrs).

  • Group 3: 14-18 Yr Olds - Starts July 9 and meets Tu & Th until July 30 (49 hrs).

Learn About Summer LUNCH Groups in 90 Seconds

Parent Support

One of the most important elements of the program is to provide parents with skills to effectively help their children. We provide three levels of parent support. Click on the 90 second video on the right to learn more.

What happens in our programs?

LUNCH Groups® is based on solid research covering behavior management, social cognition, and cognitive behavior intervention. Although we use rewards in the program, they are mostly social in nature. Each student is individually assessed and areas to improve are identified. With one staff person for every 5-6 children, we are able to focus on different areas for each child. Learn more about program by viewing the 50 minute video on the left.

Watch or Listen to a 50 Minute Recorded Webinar Overview


In addition to our summer program, we offer the following

  • Time-limited School Year Programs for K-12 Students
    These run from October to May each year and meet twice per month. There is also a parent support and education component. This program is currently filled. We are accepting wait-list referrals for our 2019-2020 program. Learn more

  • Year-Round Adult Program
    We will be taking a break for the month of July for our Adult Program for ages 18-26, which meets twice monthly on Mondays from 4-6:30pm. We will be opening a second program for adults 18-22 who require focus on more basic elements of socializing. Learn more

  • School-Based Training
    We can train school staff to conduct programs that are based upon our LUNCH Groups® treatment model, combining current research-based behavior management techniques, social learning, and cognitive behavior treatment. Dr. Gale is certified by the CA Department of Education as a Nonpublic Agency. Contact us if you would like more information.

  • Are you a professional looking to begin your own groups?
    Read our latest article, Developing/Running Transdiagnostic Social Skills Intervention Programs for Children & Adolescents (Originally published in THE LOS ANGELES PSYCHOLOGIST, Fall 2017). For a list of other selected publication and presentations, click here.

The LUNCH Groups Magazine is a free public resource. It can be viewed by students, parents, teachers, or anyone interested in helping students be more successful in life. The focus leans toward using technology responsibly, the health impact of excessive technology use, and information about parenting.

This 9 minute video will provide you with an overview and theoretical underpinnings of our programs.


All sessions include parent support, both live in-office meetings and webinars

Dates and Times for School Year 2018-19 Programs

All programs Meeting from October 2018 through May 2019 and include the following:

Snacks (Group #1 [lower to mid elementary] and Group #2 [mid to upper elementary]) or Dinners (Group #3 [middle school] and Group #4 (High school), in-office meetings, raffles, and 1-2 community outings (Spring 2019).

Additionally, parents are invited to participate in monthly online webinars (watch recording if missed) and attend monthly parent meetings to review videos of their child and learn effective behavior and socialization strategies.

Group Program Dates Times
Group #1 2nd and 4th Tuesdays 4pm to 6 pm (Snack)
Group #2 1st and 3rd Tuesdays 4pm to 6 pm (Snack)
Group #3 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 4pm to 6:30pm (Dinner)
Group #4 2nd and 4th Wednesdays 4pm to 6:30pm (Dinner)

Program Background and Details

Started in 2001, LUNCH Groups® is a transdiagnostic social learning skills program for children, teens, and adults.  To date, we have treated more than 1100 students and adults in our programs. It is designed to address the needs of individuals diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, High Functioning Autism (including what used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome), social shyness and anxiety, specific learning disorders, language challenges, oppositional behavior, and Avoidant Personality Disorder/Traits (adults only). Other Diagnoses are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Our treatment approaches combine research-based behavior management techniques, social learning theory and modeling, cognitive behavior therapy, and psychoeducation. Using a range of engaging activities and motivating technologies, such as computer animation,  participants  increase their proficiency in key areas. 

We focus on six primary areas (descriptions appear below):

  1. Executive Functioning;

  2. Pragmatic Language;

  3. Social Competence;

  4. Daily Living;

  5. Academic/Vocational Readiness;

  6. Environmental Awareness

Our student programs include a robust parent support and education component. This consists of in-office meetings, webinars, and email communication. Our adult program combines discussion and activities in the office with going out for meals or appetizers.

We accept private pay, regional center clients (parents pay a materials fee for food, raffle prizes, and outings), and school district clients.

Core Treatment Areas


  • Paying attention

  • Planning

  • Organization

  • Self-monitoring

  • Self-regulation (emotional control)

  • Effective judgement

  • Working memory

  • Successful coping strategies

  • Accepting feedback


  • Basic nutritional understanding

  • Understanding the importance of sufficient sleep

  • Maintaining hygiene-related behaviors

  • Trying new foods

  • Restaurant behavior

  • Using technology responsibly


  • Reading non-verbal facial and gestural cues

  • Knowing what to say, when to say it

  • and how to say it

  • Speaking in a manner that fits specific social situations

  • Adjusting language usage to the audience being addressed

  • Giving brief and concise responses

Academic &
Vocational Readiness

  • Remaining seated in class

  • Written and oral comprehension

  • Participating in group activities

  • Focusing on the immediate task or conversation

  • Effective hand-raising

  • Recognizing what is appropriate conversation and social boundaries for school or the workplace


  • Maintaining effective conversations

  • Knowing how to act in common social situations

  • Looking at situations from the perspective of others

  • Remaining on topic

  • Knowing when (and how) to "jump in" to a discussion

  • Modulating voice level for different situations

  • Leadership skills, knowing how to manage groups of individuals to achieve targeted goals in a timely manner

Environmental Awareness

  • Pedestrian safety

  • Effective behavior in community settings, such as restaurants, stores, malls, parks, and community events

  • Knowing what is safe vs dangerous in the community and taking appropriate cautions

Most individuals do not need to address all of these areas. We conduct a pre-group assessment and produce a report to more precisely  determine those specific areas and behaviors that need to be prioritized for initial intervention. As individuals progress through our programs, the level of proficiency expected for certain skills will likely change and new areas may be selected for intervention.

It is best to thoroughly read this website, especially the overview, and glance at my private practice website ( to gain a sense of how we organize and run the program. The initial portion of the assessment starts with a telephone consult, generally lasting between 10-20 minutes. If you feel satisfied that this program is likely to meet the needs of your child and I feel there is a good chance they can benefit from participating, we proceed to arranging for an in-office meeting. To set this up, call us at 818-788-2100 or click here to access our secure contact form.

Length of Treatment

All of our student programs are time-limited and this fits in with our overall philosophy that continuous treatment of social skills is often not necessary and, in some cases, may not be desirable. By working for a finite period of time, it helps us focus on those areas you and we feel are most relevant to target while honing our strategies and helping you carry techniques and gains into other settings. Even when children return for subsequent programs, there are still breaks of one to two months between the time one program ends and another begins.

Program Data Results

We collect data throughout our program via observations, initial assessments, and feedback from group members and their parents. In addition to the summary data below, you can view and/or print out a detailed analysis:


School Year Student Programs

Programs:  We have four programs that meet from October until May. They are broken down by the following age ranges: 6-8, 8-11, 11-13, and 14-17. These are guidelines rather than absolute ranges. A more mature 7 1/2 year old may fit better into the 8-11 year old group, while a 9 year old with significant learning challenges may do better in the younger group. Decisions are based upon an individualized pre-group assessment.

Activities:  Participants spend time in the office practicing a variety of skills required for social success and either go out for snacks (6-8 and 8-11 groups) or dinner (11-13 and 14-17 groups) to practice social interaction skills in naturalistic settings. All groups meet twice per month. The 6-8 and 8-11 groups meet on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, the 8-11 group meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, the 11-13 group on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, and the 14-17 year old group on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays.

Programs for Adults


Adult Programs

We have two adult program that meet in our  Encino office. The first is designed to meet the social needs and adaptive skill challenges for adults ages 18 to 24, while the second program is designed for adults aged 25-40. Each  program meets twice a month, on Mondays, 2 1/2 hours, from 4:00pm-6:30pm. Group members spend the first 50-60 minutes in the office engaged in discussions or focused on ongoing projects, then transition to a nearby restaurant for dinner or appetizers.

All prospective clients are individually assessed to determine areas of impairment specifically regarding social functioning, as these serve as behavioral targets within the program. The primary techniques will include social modeling, behavior management, psychoeducation, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

This group is most appropriate for clients who are experiencing difficulties socializing with peers effectively due to difficulty focusing, shyness, and related challenges.. Individuals with the following diagnoses are likely to be appropriate referrals: Mild/High Functioning Autism (including what used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome); ADD/ADHD, Avoidant Personality Disorder/Traits; Social Shyness; and Specific Learning Disabilities. Other Diagnoses are considered on a case-by-case basis.