Problem Solving Groups at the Workshops
Simcha Willick, Counselor
All the consumers at both Paramus and Woodridge workshops have the opportunity to participate in problem solving groups with Dr. Willick. These groups take place in the workshop itself and adheres to the habilitative model which states that to the extent possible behavioral/psychological interventions should take place in the environment that the behaviors occur and not in an artificial environment like a therapist’s office. This allows for the most generalization of the work done in the session. In the problem solving groups occurring in the rehabs consumers are able to bring up issues from all aspects of their lives and work on them in the supportive atmosphere of their peers. To the extent possible we try to keep the issues to things that can be observed by staff and modified by direct staff intervention.
The group has two basic rules that the leader makes sure are adhered to during the meeting. The first rule is for each participant to practice active listening; i.e., to truly open ones ears to the issues presented by one’s friends and to show respect and empathy for what they are going through. This creates an atmosphere where each participant knows that he or she is being listened and attended to, and that she or he are not alone in dealing with the particular issue. The second rule is that other people’s names are not mentioned when talking about an interpersonal issue in the group. A consumer can say “a person on the bus said this and that and upset me,” but cannot name that person. In this way the group becomes more about the solution to the problem rather than just a venting session about how one consumer is bothering another. It also allows for the transgressor to listen to the issue without feeling defensive and hopefully with understanding enough such that his or her behavior can change just by knowing how it affects his or her friend. (Of course, if the issue needs to be resolved through dialog the two or more consumers can meet with staff or counselor away from the group to work it out.)
These groups are very affective and do aide consumers in becoming more proactive about saying what they need to say, both in group and during a difficult interaction. Although issues often persist it is through this method that particular issues can be worked on over time with a majority of the workshop knowing that this is being worked on. In this way, all may help diminish immature behavioral choices and increase more appropriate choices that represent growth in the arena of social interactions and communication skills.
The Wood-Ridge Workshop highlights the completion of the Knitting Group's first project. The Knitting Group is an opportunity for everyone from beginner to experienced knitter to come together and create. Our first goal was to make a Red, White, and Blue banner. Each person helped to make single-colored squares. Next we joined together each person’s work. By working together we were able to create something that the entire workshop can enjoy and appreciate.