Therapy Services offered at Common Threads Family Resource Center
Occupational Therapy/Speech Therapy
Applications are being accepted for an additional Occupational Therapist
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our feelings and behaviors are caused by our thoughts, not by external things like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this approach is that we can change the way we think to feel and act better, even if the situation does not change. Cognitive-behavioral therapists seek to learn what their clients want out of life–their goals–and then help their clients achieve those goals. The therapist’s role is to listen, teach, and encourage, while the client’s role is to express concerns, learn, and implement that learning.
Solution-focused therapy is a type of talk therapy. It focuses on what clients want to achieve through therapy rather than on the problem(s) that made them seek help. This approach does not focus on the past, but instead focuses on the present and future. The therapist uses respectful curiosity to invite the client to envision their preferred future and then therapist and client start attending to any moves toward that future, whether these are small increments or large changes. To support this, questions are asked about the client’s story, strengths, and resources, and about exceptions to the problem.
Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process that furthers the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual. Dance/movement therapy emerged as a profession during the 1940s and is an effective treatment for people with developmental, medical, social, physical, and psychological impairments.
Dance/movement therapists are masters-level clinicians and are trained in movement observation and assessment using two systems: Laban Movement Analysis and the Kestenberg Movement Profile (created especially for use with children). They observe movement and body language in order to determine how a person is relating, expressing, and experiencing on a non-verbal level.
In a dance/movement individual or group therapy session, the dance therapist operates using four core concepts: body action, symbolism, group rhythmic activity, and the therapeutic movement relationship. When focusing on body action, or the concrete movement of the body in action, the therapist works on expanding movement repertoire and functional movement skills. Once these skills are present, the movement is able to expand to a symbolic level – i.e., the rocking and swaying motion symbolic of the soothing and nurturing that the client is consciously or unconsciously seeking. The dance/movement therapist seeks to bring this unconscious movement to a conscious and symbolic level for the mover. Next, in group rhythmic activity, group members (or individuals with a therapist) experience movement with another person – they may move at the same speed, with the same amount of intensity/weight, or with similar amounts of flow. This group movement provides a sense of belonging and of being understood as part of something larger than oneself, and can be a powerful form of connection for a child on the autism spectrum. Finally, the therapeutic movement relationship permeates all interaction between the therapist and client(s). The therapist uses kinesthetic empathy – movement mirroring and matching – to show the client not only verbally but also nonverbally that they are attuning to their emotional needs.
Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapists are masters-level clinicians who integrate the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), and the creative process using models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; mental illness; substance abuse and other addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence issues; social and emotional difficulties related to disability or illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness. Art therapy programs are found in a number of settings, including hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices.
In an art therapy group, individuals with a core connection (e.g. mothers of children with autism) come together to engage in creative and expressive therapeutic art exercises that promote healthy interactive and introspective opportunities for each group member. Participants often become involved in each other’s images in a supportive way, which allows them to experience a shared connection, often for the first time. In addition, art therapy groups at Common Threads provide a solid framework for art-based group psychotherapy. Participants explore personal issues through a variety of art experiences. Group interactions and feedback are an important part of the therapy process. Art quickly makes visible what has been hidden or suppressed, and can often surprise even the most defensive person. The infrastructure of the group is geared toward gaining clarity and support for the feelings and awareness that arise in art-based group therapy.
Play therapy is a technique that uses the child’s natural means of expression, namely play, as a therapeutic tool to assist children in coping with emotional stress or trauma. It has been used effectively with children who have the developmental level and understanding level of a typically developing two to eight year old.
Practitioners of play therapy believe that this method allows the child to manipulate the world on a smaller scale, something that cannot be done in the child’s everyday environment. By playing with specially selected materials, and with the guidance of a person who reacts in a designated manner, the child plays out their feelings, bringing these hidden emotions to the surface where they can face them and cope with them.
Why expressive therapy or play therapy over talk therapy:
Communicating emotions and needs can be an extremely difficult task for any child. When you add the challenges that accompany a mental health diagnosis to the development of a child, this task becomes often impossible. In addition, traditional “talk therapy” can be somewhat frightening and unsuccessful for young children. Developmentally, communication is more than just words spoken, and often can better be done through play and creation. In addition, expressive and play therapies provide children a chance to step away from the daunting task of verbal communication and develop new ways to share their story through art, dance, and play.
With children on the autism spectrum, in addition to bridging the communication gap between child and therapist, child and parent, or child and peer, expressive and play therapies at Common Threads focus deeply on issues that have been noted as both traditional symptoms and emerging symptoms of children with autism. More specifically, our programs deal with social and emotional unrelatedness, impaired small and large motor skills, lack of normal creativity, and sensory integration.
In group application, expressive and play therapies foster socialization in children who otherwise might find it difficult to relate. Props, music, and art media activities support a child in order to help them participate as an active group member. This ability to engage through non-verbal experiences sets expressive and play therapies apart from other forms of therapy. It creates an affirming environment for the child, giving them the ability to experience the value of belonging to a group.
What exactly are PODS?
PODS have been developed to help facilitate therapeutic opportunities where children are encouraged to play, observe, discover, and socialize.