Becoming Part of the Group
Children in our Residential Treatment Program suffer from mental health challenges or severe emotional disturbance. Not surprisingly, they often have tremendous difficulty interacting with others. Fred was no exception. When he began living in the East Cowell Center Cottage, he kept to himself, always choosing solitary activities over opportunities for interaction with his peers. Residential Program staff knew that helping him become more comfortable with other children would be key to his treatment and long-term success.
Residential Program staff assigned a Recreation Therapy Intern to work with Fred. At first, Fred would dutifully attend meetings with his assigned Intern, but he still refused to join in any group activities. The Intern was patient and did not give up. He constantly consulted with fellow staff, brainstorming new ways to spark Fred’s interest in group activities and help him learn to interact with his peers.
Thanks to the Intern’s patience and persistence, Fred began to make progress. Art was the first group activity that managed to catch his attention. He would ask to join in and help his fellow residents with art projects. Later, as he became much more likely to talk to and interact with his peers, he began to explore other interests, as well, such as basketball.
The key to Fred’s growth was not to force his participation in group activities, but to provide him with many opportunities for interaction, and most of all, to be patient and caring as he gained the confidence he needed to join in. With time, patience, and persistence, Fred gained an interest in group activities and learned to engage and have fun with other children.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of our clients.
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