-Students are grouped according to similar age, level of functioning, and needs.
-For Preschool through young adult.
-Small, therapeutic group size.
-Groups typically meet for eight-week sessions once a week throughout the year, including summers.
-Groups meet for 60 minutes.
-The last group of the session will be for individual parent conference calls or to meet together for a parent support group. The purpose of this is for Linda to share relevant material and information about the group instruction techniques with strategies for home, school, and community.
-On-going Mindful parent support groups and workshops are offered on various related topics. If interested in further consultation, Linda Price is available at an additional fee to meet with
parents and children to assist with group carry-over, coping strategies, reaching personal goals, and parenting skills, as well as school consultation.
-Structured, therapeutic groups often begin with a short grounding meditation and include student ‘check-ins' with active listening, reciprocal conversations, and sharing of their activity level, mood, concerns, excitement, and gratitude for increased awareness and self-regulation. There is 'talk time’ to practice conversational skills, making related comments and questions, problem-solving, and providing one another with feedback and positive coping strategies. Then, there is often a discussion topic, lesson, activity, drama exercise, game, movie clip, yoga, and/or creative movement. The students practice flexibility, compromise, and negotiation in order to agree on an activity of common interest. We end each group with a Mindfulness and relaxation exercise. Lastly, we review the skills/strategies taught with ways to practice them during the week outside of the group. Students’ strengths and passions are emphasized and they learn skills and techniques to address their challenges. They realize that they are not alone in their struggles and connect with one another due to similar interests and needs.
-The elementary students work together at being their “BEST” and learn how to display active listening and respect for others, and share feelings and thoughts in a cooperative, give and take manner with their peers. “BEST” Contract: B= Body Language & Bubble Space, E=Eye Gaze, S= Speak Kindly & Share, T= Tone of Voice & Take Turns. Once students meet their group goals and their behavioral contract, the children can earn a ‘party’ during their last group.
-Middle and high school students also work on being their “BEST” through positive non-verbal communication, tone of voice, and active listening geared toward their maturity level. There is typically more discussion about developmental concerns and problem-solving methods at this age. The ‘party’ night may be out in the community, such as at Bertucci’s to practice some of the skills learned during the group. The goal of this outing is to generalize their improved social skills to other environments. The ‘party’ also serves as a behavioral incentive to achieve personal goals throughout the session.
-Immediately after each group, Linda will typically remind students of their ‘goals’ for the week and highlight the skills that were taught during the session so they have the BIG picture. Parents will be given as many details as possible, so they can follow-up at home and for group carryover.
The groups focus on verbal and non-verbal communication skills that may enable students to improve in their abilities to;
-Greet peers in an expected manner and make small talk
-Use whole body, active listening to focus and show interest and concern
-Initiate and maintain conversation with peers
-Take turns and share with peers
-Identify and verbalize feelings
-Read social cues and identify another’s perspective
-Determine how words and behaviors impact others
-Deal with peer teasing assertively
-Make connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors
-Make and keep friends
-Stop and think before responding
Through modeling, discussion, role-playing, and cooperative, therapeutic, and non-competitive activities, students may work at developing and improving;
-Flexibility and Frustration Tolerance
-Attention Span and Focus
-Self-esteem and Confidence
-Conflict Resolution Skills
-Coping and Relaxation Skills
-Perspective-taking and Empathy
-Mindfulness and Compassion
Specific group methods may include the following based on the individuals’ needs and number of sessions completed:
-Students practice reading others’ facial expressions and body language and learn to identify their own feelings by recognizing what their bodies feel and look like when experiencing various emotions. They are assisted in identifying their peers’ feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, so they may see another’s perspective. In addition, they may be better able to envision how others will react to their behaviors and to inhibit inappropriate responses on their part. They are taught to stop, relax, and to think of appropriate responses, rather than acting impulsively.
-They are taught assertiveness skills. They practice how to approach peers, even when they may feel shy and/or anxious. In addition, students are taught to verbalize feelings, particularly when they are agitated or upset with someone. Instead of withdrawing or causing someone to feel defensive by blaming them, they learn to express their feelings clearly and calmly.
-Students practice role-playing situations, such as how to start, join in, maintain, and end conversations with each other in group. They learn how to generate appropriate topics, how to show active listening and interest, how to switch topics, and how to ask questions to find common interests. They are encouraged to practice these skills each week at school with various acquaintances, such as during lunch or recess.
-They work on problem-solving strategies; how to identify a problem, brainstorm possible solutions, weigh the pros and cons of each solution, and then to make a plan and check how it worked.
-The students work on decision-making and participate in giving each other useful feedback about actual peer conflicts. They discuss and role-play positive methods for responding to peer teasing, such as confidently standing up to peers, walking away, ignoring them, finding someone else to play or talk with, making a joke or laughing it off, and staying calm by breathing or counting.
-Students identify positive coping strategies that they can utilize when upset or frustrated in order to calm themselves down, such as breathing and visualization exercises, physical outlets, drawing, writing in a journal, listening to music, and talking to a caring adult.
-They often practice relaxation exercises during group, including breathing, mindfulness, and yoga techniques that can help them to focus, lift their mood, and calm them. Then, they can use these relaxation exercises at school, such as before tests and at home, such as before they go to sleep at night. With practice, they may also be able to use these strategies to stay calm during stressful situations.
-Self-esteem is addressed by assisting them to identify and focus on their individual strengths and to change negative thoughts to more positive ones. They also are taught how and why we give compliments and to make positive statements to others.
-Students experience drama games and cooperative team building activities to better learn how to be a ‘good sport’, to practice their skills informally in a natural context, and to take turns while enjoying one another. Creative movement, yoga postures, and art can be utilized for expressing themselves, for sensory integration, focus, and anxiety reduction.
-Use Social Thinking® curriculum, Superflex materials, Zones of Regulation, Incredible 5 Point Scale, and other social skills curriculum.
-Most importantly, students often realize that they are not alone in their struggles and positively connect with their peers in a social and safe environment. Independently, parents may wish to talk with other parents during group time and make plans for students to get together outside of group to help nurture these relationships.