THERAPEUTIC GROUPS OFFERED
- Art Therapy and Open Studio
This group is based on the idea that the creative process of art-making is healing and life enhancing and is a form of nonverbal communication of thoughts and feelings (American Art Therapy Association, 1996). It focuses on giving our youth an opportunity to engage in a full range of creative expression through the arts. By using a wide range of artistic media, our youth are encouraged to express themselves freely through painting, drawing, and sculpture while also developing the ability to process their emotional connections to the art they make. The expressive arts process provides a number of creative outlets to promote creative problem solving, conflict resolution, social engagement, and emotional relief from traumatic experiences in one’s life.
BYS offers trauma-informed yoga classes with a registered yoga teacher/licensed therapist. These classes are geared towards youth who have suffered from trauma, depression or anxiety. Trauma-informed yoga utilizes conscious breathing techniques and incorporates specific movement so that participants will have an increased awareness of their body and gain tools and skills to help self-regulate when needed.
- Cultural Identity Group
Led by a licensed therapist, this group helps children explore their cultural and ethnic identities. The group focuses on exploring, sharing, and learning about one’s own culture and the culture of one’s peers. Children are encouraged to openly process and discuss what is unique about their backgrounds as well as cross-cultural similarities. This group culminates in the celebration of each culture during the annual Cultural Diversity Celebration in which youth and families are invited to the space to share in celebrating diversity.
- Girls Empowerment Group
Oftentimes, young girls are disempowered or silenced. They are made to feel less than their male classmates or like they must be in competition with one another in order to succeed. This is a group geared toward girls 9 years old and up and focuses on empowering girls, positive identity development, and building positive relationships with female peers. Past activities have included making friendship bracelets, step and dance, and a variety of discussions on the unique challenges and experiences associated with being a girl.
- Boys II Men
Geared toward boys 9 years old and up, this group focuses on encouraging positive social interactions, teamwork, and discussion of issues particularly related to boys. The group is designed for members to interact while being physically active in hopes of creating an enthusiasm for physical activity, positive social relationships, and increased self- awareness.
- Mindfulness Group
Led by a licensed therapist, this group focuses on the identification, development, and practice of mindfulness skills. The group leader guides group members through a variety of activities that bring awareness to the concept of “calm mind” and “being fully present in the moment”. Activities focus on developing physical and emotional regulation by engaging in activities that help tune them into their physical and emotional experiences. For instance, children made “cinnamon ornaments” from dough that they created. They were encouraged to be aware of all of their senses as they designed, formed and created the ornaments.
- Success Group
This group focuses on engaging youth in a discussion about their perceptions of success and challenges them to develop the skills necessary to connect their own behavior to their short and long-term goals. The group uses a variety of activities and structured play to support youth in defining and achieving success in academic, community, and home settings. Past activities have included designing imaginary products to solve what youth perceive to be a major problem in the world and writing/directing a commercial to teach a social or life skill that they feel would be valuable for the BYS community.
- Dance Class and Dance/Movement Therapy
Dance class and dance/movement therapy provide a safe space for children to explore and express difficult emotions through movement. It also helps develop physical and emotional regulation, spatial awareness, and teamwork. The group typically starts with a brief warm-up standing in a circle and then moves to various skill-building activities and may include a game or freeze dance. Youth also learn choreography from community-based dance instruction culminating in performance.
Through gymnastics, children develop body awareness, gain flexibility, and improve their motor skills and coordination through physical activity and expression. These skills build confidence and self-esteem while helping children release their energy in a healthy, constructive, and safe way. This group is led by an instructor specializing in gymnastics as a form of resiliency.
- Performing Arts Group
Children are able to express themselves through theater, dance, step, poetry/spoken word, and music in this group. This group focuses on skill development and overcoming self-consciousness through the medium of performing arts. Therapeutic skills such as affect identification, positive peer collaboration, and self-regulation are learned through the performing arts, allowing BYS children to apply these skills to other areas of their lives.
- Problem Solving Group
Learning to identify problems, ask questions, and generate solutions are all important skills that are the focus of this group. Children are tasked with solving problems that require creative and critical thinking, collaboration, and cooperation. Activities include conflict resolution, role playing, and cooperative word search games.
- Adventure Games Group
This group focuses on developing the interpersonal skills of youth by providing structured collaborative games and activities that focus on social skill development, problem solving skills, and cooperative play. Past activities have included doing a massive puzzle as a team or cooperative games where children work collaboratively to achieve a common goal rather than competitively.
- Cooking Group
The primary focus of this group is to introduce and develop skills related to health, cooking, planning, and following directives. During this group, children work collaboratively to learn about health and to build life skills. Some weeks, group members work together to review the week’s recipe with staff, agree upon tasks that they will do toward finishing the goal, and complete the cooking project within the allotted time.
- Play Group
Play Group provides BYS children ages 6 to 8 with the opportunity to engage in adult supervised physical activity both indoors and outdoors. Children are allowed to play freely but also have the option to participate in an adult led/supported physical activity, which may include a kickball game, tag, or BYS favorite “Sharks and Minnows.”
- Individual Therapy
BYS youth have access to weekly individual therapy with experienced, clinicians. Clinicians develop individualized treatment plans and clinical goals highly tailored to meet the specific needs of each child. BYS clinicians incorporate theory from evidence-based practices including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Attachment Theory, Narrative Therapy, and the Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC) Model. BYS Clinicians utilize play therapy, art-based interventions, sensory modulation, and role play/social scripting to incorporate age-appropriate methodologies in youths’ treatment.
- Family Support Services
Family engagement is an essential component of BYS’s approach and families are encouraged to help guide their child’s treatment. Families/caregivers are expected to attend meetings approximately every six weeks to discuss their child’s treatment and progress, as well as to ensure their family’s needs are being met. BYS offers case management services to the families/caregivers of BYS youth, and each child enrolled at BYS is assigned a Family Liaison. Family Liaisons work directly with families/caregivers to establish long and short-term goals to achieve familial stability and strength. Family Liaisons offer strategic and direct support in pursuit of established goals. Case management services vary based on the needs and expressed wishes of families/caregivers. All BYS Family Liaisons are highly experienced navigating social service systems and accessing community resources.
BYS provides free, private door-to-door transportation to and from the program daily. BYS vans pick children up from partner schools and bring them to BYS, and at the end of the program day pick them up from BYS and drop them off at home, releasing them only to children’s caregivers or to parties authorized by caregivers. BYS vans are driven by Massachusetts certified children’s van drivers contracted by local professional transportation company Kidz on the Run.
- Educational Advocacy
BYS offers educational advocacy for youth as needed. BYS believes that success in academic settings is essential to long-term social and emotional success. BYS is available to review existing Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans, attend IEP and 504 meetings, request testing, and advocate for a child’s educational needs. Educational advocates are available in conjunction with a youth’s broader clinical team to consult with youths’ schools about effective behavior management strategies as determined by their treatment plans and goals.
- Nutrition and Health
BYS provides youth nutritious food options each day in collaboration with City Fresh Foods. BYS also provides education about healthy eating choices. BYS youth participate in a cooking group in which they learn about nutrition, portion control, and general health in an effort to support youth in healthy physical and emotional development. BYS also offers youth a variety of opportunities to engage in physical activities including outdoor free play, staff-led physical activity, yoga, and gymnastics.