Encompass Blog

Celebrating Encompass Summer Therapy Groups

September 14, 2022  |  Behavioral Health  |  By Megan Walsh, MSW, LICSW

As a behavioral health therapist and as a parent, it pains me to look at our extensive waitlist and know that there are kids and families needing our services that aren’t currently being served.  The behavioral health team decided to get creative over the summer to provide more kids with the supports they need by offering a variety of different groups.  Each group was led by two child and family therapists or one child and family therapist and one occupational therapist.  In the past, therapists have focused on developing social skills groups but current research teaches us that helping kids develop relationships with people with shared interests is a much more helpful approach.  Many of the same social skills can be explored but it happens more naturally and generalizes the skills more appropriately.  In response, we offered the following groups for kids, families, and professionals in our community.

Groups for Kids


little girl with teddy bearWave Riders
Wave Riders is a special group designed by the Encompass team for children 5-9 years old who are struggling with grief, loss, or unexpected life changes. Kids commonly experience grief around things like the death of a loved one or beloved pet, incarceration of a family member, divorce/custody issues, or loss of an important friendship. Therapists sometimes refer to the practice of acknowledging and honoring challenging emotions as “riding the wave” and it can be helpful to understand that some emotions are bigger and last longer than others, but they don’t last forever. With practice and skill, we can learn to face the wave of emotion instead of trying to fight back against feelings that seem overwhelming. The Wave Riders group participants practiced noticing their individual emotions, acknowledging them, and, collectively identifying strategies that help them “Ride the Wave” in a safe, healthy way.

*Note: We are offering a Wave Riders Group this fall. Learn more below.

Art Special Interest Group
This 6-week series used art-based activities to foster cooperation, flexibility, collaboration, and creativity for kids from 6-9 years old.  Emotional identification and expression were key takeaways in addition to emotional regulation strategies.

Lego Special Interest Group
Lego Therapy is a powerful intervention designed to support neurodiverse children and those with communication challenges in developing skills in language and collaboration.  Research has shown that Lego Therapy often taps into the natural interests and motivations of children, making it a highly effective form of therapy. Turn-taking, sharing, listening, conversation practice, teamwork, and problem-solving were integral parts of this fun, interactive group.

Frensory Group
The Frensory group focused on enhancing self-advocacy skills and building/maintaining connections with both peers and therapist. Activities were designed to empower children to form strong connections with peers without neglecting their own wants and needs. Participants explored different sensory strategies and talked about how each is experienced by the individual. This group offered kids the opportunity to connect with others while respecting and appreciating both our differences and our commonalities.  This group included aspects of a neurodiversity-affirming curriculum called Sea Bridge. The Sea Bridge neurodiversity-affirming, strength-based approach provides children with opportunities to celebrate authentic ways of being. With curriculum topics like authentic social connection, embodied emotions, supportive friends and allies, and self-advocacy, group members built self-advocacy skills while having opportunities to connect with others in meaningful ways.

Anxiety Group
This group provided children with the opportunity to learn to identify anxiety triggers and practice skills for emotional regulation.  Participants had the chance to build relationships with peers who share similar struggles and learn to provide and receive support in healthy relationships.  Children experienced coregulation and built self-regulation skills while learning to manage feelings of anxiety.

This 10-hour intensive was held over four days and is an executive functioning group for children between 6-9 years old based loosely around the widely popular Escape Room concept.  The Escape group used puzzles, riddles, and clues to foster problem-solving, impulse control, cooperation, coping skills, and strategies for sensory processing.  This group was co-facilitated by a behavioral health therapist and an occupational therapist.

Parent/Caregiver Workshops

Parenting for Positive Self Worth
This eight-week series focused on learning a variety of parenting strategies designed to help adults parent their children in a way that promotes healing from any exposure to trauma they may have experienced. In addition, the parenting strategies are designed to help parents establish and promote positive self-worth in their children. This program is designed to stop the generational cycles that permeate so many hurting families.

Mum hugging young daughter with teddy bear

Circle of Security  –  Parent series
At times all parents feel lost or without a clue about what our children might need from us. Imagine what it might feel like if you were able to make sense of what your child was really asking from you. The Circle of Security® Parenting™ program is based on decades of research about how secure parent-child relationships can be supported and strengthened. Using the COSP™ model developed by the Circle of Security originators, our trained Facilitators work with parents and caregivers to help them to understand their child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs, support their child’s ability to successfully manage emotions, enhance the development of their child’s self-esteem and honor the innate wisdom and desire for their child to be secure in relationships.

Circle of Security – Teacher series                                  
The COSC Approach incorporates a vast body of research in attachment and developmental psychology. Children learn within the context of relationships, so it is not surprising that secure attachment to early care providers has a significant positive effect on children’s school readiness and learning. Attachment theory, in general, and COS, in particular, provide critical organizing principles for the development of teacher-child relationships.  We offered this series to local preschool and daycare providers over the summer months.

Looking Ahead

As we continue to work towards hiring more highly qualified, amazing child and family therapists to our team, we will continue to offer groups for both parents/caregivers and children over the Fall and Winter months.  In September we have the following series’ available:

Making Sense of Your Worth Series begins September 19th from 11:30-1 on Mondays at the Encompass Child Development Center
We have discovered there is a missing piece to helping individuals heal from the negative hurtful events they were exposed to throughout their lives. Individuals may have made sense of the events on a cognitive level and even on an emotional level but have not yet taken the journey to understand how these life events (both big and small) have impacted their positive self-worth.  When caregivers learn about their personal attachment style, they often seek answers on how to change it. Before now, a curriculum or guide to help them do this did not exist. Now we have it, and it is an amazing step-by-step program for helping adults gain secure attachment. In addition, caregivers with their own trauma histories also have a difficult time meeting the needs of the children in their home because their own histories get in the way. This program helps adults overcome their own painful pasts so they can be free to be the caregiver they desire to be, the spouse they desire to be, the friend they desire to be and even the person they want to be in their profession.  Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-sense-of-your-worth-tickets-399630504597

Wave Riders Group begins Tuesday, 9/27/22 from 4:30-5:20 pm at the Encompass Child Development Center.  Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wave-riders-fall-2022-tickets-412489496187

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