Secret Agent Society (SAS)

The Secret Agent Society (SAS) is an evidence-based social skills intervention for children ages 8-12. It has been validated as an effective way to teach social skills to children who have a variety of social challenges. With the help of playful interactions, a board game, and a computer game, the Secret Agent Society (SAS) provides enjoyable and effective social skills instruction.

SAS is a unique program that includes in-session guided practice and role-plays, parent instruction, a computer game (for practice between sessions), and contact with the child’s teacher at school. The Avatar-guided “secret missions” in the computer game are an essential component of the program that make practicing between session fun and provide children with the opportunity to practice skills independently.

The Computer Game:

The interactive computer game supports home-based practice of the skills taught each week.

The four-level computer program includes:

  • Games that teach children to recognize simple and complex emotions in others from facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and situational clues.
  • Activities that increase the player's awareness of the body clues and thoughts that signal the intensity of their own feelings.
  • Animated virtual reality missions that teach different ways of coping with unpleasant feelings and dealing with social challenges such as being bullied, making new friends, trying new activities, working as a team, and making mistakes.
  • Interactive quizzes to test understanding and deepen learning.
  • 'Home missions' that help with applying skills from the program to real life.

Click here to watch an example of the computer game

Who can participate?

  • 8-12 year olds with social challenges.
  • Participants should live within an hour of the UCLA campus.
  • Children must be verbal, willing to interact at least minimally with adults and age mates. Parents must commit to complete the program, participate in weekly sessions and periodic follow-up.

Children and parents must be screened for participation by the lead clinician Karin Best, a licensed psychologist. This pre-screening may be covered by some insurance policies.

Please contact the office to see if you qualify.

For more information, contact:

Karin Best, PhD
Telephone: (310) 206-2210

About the clinicians:

Karin Best, PhD, has extensive experience working with children and families. She has been a licensed clinical psychologist since 1994 and returned to UCLA as a faculty and staff member in 1999. She trained in the first group of American SAS providers (fall 2011; fall 2013 training as a booster) and is the lead in efforts to implement SAS at UCLA.

Ted Hutman, PhD, was trained in SAS in fall of 2013. He joined the UCLA faculty in 2011.  He is a developmental and clinical psychologist and has been licensed since 2012.  He has extensive experience as a researcher of social-emotional development.