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.
Individuals in our Paramus program are offered opportunities for in house and community based instruction. A number of our instructional opportunities are aligned with DDD’s draft of proposed services under the “Supports Program”. It is our intent to become an approved vendor for this program. Over the years, Paramus has been a qualified provider for the Governor’s Initiative – Self Determination, Real Life Choices, Self -Directed Services and Individual Community Supports and Services (ICSS).
Instruction takes place in small groups and individually- based on person centered planning activities and goal development. Skills are taught in structured, sequential steps with opportunities for real world applications.
Daily learning opportunities address: employment preparation, socialization, problem solving, independent living skills, coping skills, vocational training projects, responding to choices and making decisions, technology instruction, safety on the job and in the community, increased self -directed behavior and taking responsibility, career awareness, important “soft skills” , meal preparation activities and health education.
Individuals in Paramus Rehab participate in a number of community inclusion activities including, but not limited to: food shopping, going out to lunch, trips to the library and mall, bowling, movies and trips to the park.
Individuals can participate in weekly classes with our Work Readiness Instructor. This program provides intense support and instruction on focused topics. The Instructor partners with each adult to determine strengths, interests and preferences. Situational community based assessments, travel assessments and career preference inventories are used to develop a personal portfolio for each participant. The Instructor’s goal is to find the perfect job match for each adult and to provide the necessary supports to be successful on the job. The Instructor will continue to liaison with the employer and work to develop natural supports for each job site. Job Coaching support continues and the team works together to develop a successful fading strategy over time. Successful workers have the opportunity to come back into the Work Readiness classes for refresher courses and/or to become peer mentors for individuals in the class.
Health and wellness is an important part of our daily lives and health education has been an integral part of our Paramus program. Health classes are offered twice a week on a multitude of topics facilitated by our program nurse. Additionally, the program nurse provides individualized education and support, working with adults to develop health goals on an annual basis.
The Paramus program provides a forum for conflict resolution and problem solving groups facilitated by BCSS’s counselor, Dr. Simcha Willick. Individuals have the opportunity to participate in any of the groups or all three. Groups are configured with the intent that all participants learn to practice active listening for the purpose of understanding and empathy. Dr. Willick assists individuals to define and discuss a problem objectively and to develop solutions through role play and dialogue. Outcomes of the group include, but are not limited to: self-advocacy; increased self-esteem; greater sensitivity to the feelings and opinions of others; respect of boundaries; increased positive socialization; adaptive coping skills; decreased anxiety, increased ability to delay gratification and increased self-esteem.
Collectively, we look to respond to the preferences and support needs of the individuals we serve. We have cultivated a warm and supportive learning environment and encourage “stretching” and exposure new challenges. Through the years we have enjoyed open communication and collaborative partnerships with parents/guardians and family members working together to assist individuals to live and work successfully in the community.
The sky’s the limit!