group treatments for children and adults
Ψ ADHD Treatment
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects from 7-9% of children and is the most genetic of all disorders. Up to 3/4 of affected children will continue to exhibit symptoms throughout their lives, and untreated ADHD is linked with issues such as school failure, substance abuse, car accidents, unplanned pregnancies, job loss and divorce. Fortunately, early intervention can make a difference. Whether the diagnosis is ADHD Inattentive Type (formerly called "ADD"), Hyperactive-Impulsive Type or Combined Type, the approach to treatment is generally the same: behavioural interventions, neurocognitive interventions, coaching and/or medication. Usually, a combination of these treatments produces the best results.
❧ Treatment For Preschoolers, Children and Teens
ADHD can take quite a toll on both children and the adults who care for them. Their lives are frequently disrupted by disorganization, forgetfulness, distractibility, fidgetiness, outbursts or misbehaviour. Further, approximately 33% of children with ADHD have academic problems, 12% get held back a grade and nearly 10% of teens with ADHD drop out of school if left untreated. Teenagers with ADHD will often score a full letter grade lower than other teens, even when controlling for academic skills.
It's normal for parents to feel helpless and confused about the best ways to handle their ADHD child. These children often appear to ignore, defy, or purposely annoy others. However, many children with ADHD intend to behave or comply but - oops! - they react, get distracted or forget in the moment. So there is a clear discrepancy between intention and outcome or execution. Because these issues originate in the brain (primarily the pre-frontal cortex), traditional forms of discipline such as yelling, spanking or punishing don't work very well. There may be short-term changes, especially under duress, but the effort is just too hard to sustain. In fac, problem-solving and collaboration are often the most effective ways of managing children with ADHD.
We aim to provide families with the tools needed to better understand and handle problem behaviours when they arise. The scientific literature has shown behaviour therapy to be the only type of psychosocial treatment that is effective for ADHD, and the West Island Neuropsychology and Counseling Centre offers behaviour therapy in group as well as individual format.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based method that deals with problems in the moment, rather than searching for root causes. For children with ADHD, CBT teaches age-appropriate techniques for increasing attention, impulse control, social skills and positive coping behaviours. Parents learn about the nature of ADHD, how to anticipate and prevent behavioural breakdowns, and how to use alternative strategies for rewarding positive and discouraging negative behaviours.
At the West Island Neuropsychology and Counseling Centre, we also make use of neurocognitive interventions such as Cogmed Working Memory Training and Mindfulness Meditation. It is true that medication will almost certainly help your child sit still, concentrate better and be less impulsive. However, medication is a tool, not a cure. The best possible outcome may occur when a range of interventions is implemented. Behavioural and neurocognitive interventions can take more time, effort and resources than medicine, but as recently pointed out by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), studies show that results can be longer lasting. Note that the CDC also strongly recommends that whenever possible, children under six be treated behaviourally before medication is considered.
Our programs are designed for children and teens struggling with attentional, behavioural and/or emotional challenges. We meet weekly with both the youth and their parents; the parent training focuses on promoting positive changes in their child's behaviour, both at home and at school. Learning good parenting skills can actually mediate the most negative outcomes; therefore, it make sense for this to be a primary focus of treatment. We use interactive skill-building, problem-solving and behaviour management techniques. The children and teens learn new coping skills, strategies for decreasing inattention and impulsivity, as well as social awareness and interpersonal skills. There is also some emphasis on improving work habits and, ideally, academic performance. For teens, issues around peer pressure, risk-taking behaviour, substance abuse and relationship issues are included.
Note that once our group programs are complete, we keep in contact with the families for as long as necessary. Further individualized services can also be offered.
- 12 sessions of 75 minutes each; maximum 8 children or teens and their parents per group
- Introduction to ADHD and essential components of treatment (first session only)
- Review of home exercise/practice (beginning second session)
- Presentation of new material, including videos, modeling and role playing; topics include
- Problems with time estimation and time management
- Procrastination and avoidance of difficult, boring or non-gratifying tasks
- Failure to complete tasks
- Failure to STOP and shift to a new task or behaviour when appropriate ("hyperfocus")
- Disorganization (losing, forgetting, misplacing, messiness)
- Failure to follow through on long-term projects and goals
- Interpersonal difficulties (e.g., interrupting, impulsive responding, being overly hyper)
- In-session exercise
- Review of upcoming home exercise/practice
- Handouts are given to summarize the session and the home exercise
❧ Treatment For Adults
ADHD can be just as difficult for adults as it is for children. We may no longer have to deal with the stresses of school life (sitting all day in oft-boring classes, studying and taking exams, getting assignments done and handed in on time, making sure we look right), but the demands of work and family – especially for parents - present their own challenges. In fact, research clearly shows a substantial impact of adult ADHD on almost all aspects of life: work, home, relationships, finances and mental and physical health.
Medication can be extremely helpful to many adults with ADHD, especially when it comes to attention regulation and impulse control. However, medication will not magically make all ADHD symptoms disappear. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can pick up where medication leaves off, resulting in meaningful changes after just a few weeks.
There's no evidence that CBT can replace drug therapy for ADHD, or even permit lower dosages. But research suggests that it works better for ADHD than do other forms of therapy. Further, a recent study from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that a combination of drug therapy and CBT was more effective at controlling ADHD symptoms than was drug therapy alone.
Targets of Treatment:
- Problems with time estimation and time management (being late, missing appointments)
- Procrastination, avoidance (failure to initiate, doing things at the last minute)
- Failure to complete tasks, especially boring, routine, non-gratifying tasks (e.g., bills, laundry, mail, taxes)
- Failure to STOP and shift to a new task or behaviour as appropriate (“hyperfocus”)
- Difficulties with organization (losing, forgetting, misplacing, messiness)
- Failure to follow through on long-term projects and life goals
- Interpersonal difficulties (interrupting, forgetting, impulsive responding, being overly hyper)
- 10 sessions of 75 minutes each, maximum 12 persons per group
- Introduction to essential components of treatment (first session only)
- Review of home exercise/practice (beginning second session)
- Presentation of new material using videos, modelling and role playing
- In-session exercise
- Review of upcoming home exercise/practice
- Handouts are given to summarize the session and home exercise
Ψ Mindfulness meditation groups
❧ Mindfulness Meditation Program for Children and Teens
Mindfulness Training can help students learn to manage and even reduce their stress levels, shifting gears in the brain and the nervous system. Our unique programs, M4K: Mindfulness 4 Kids and M4T: Mindfulness 4 Teens, combine established training methods with empirically validated cognitive behavioural techniques. We offer concrete, accessible tools to reduce reactivity, stabilize emotions and bring the cortical regions of the brain back "online". The results? Calmer, happier students, improved academics and a more pleasant, more manageable classroom.
Research on Mindfulness Training for children and teens reveals several core benefits, both in and out of the classroom. These benefits include:
- Better focus and concentration.
- Increased sense of calm.
- Decreased stress and anxiety.
- Improved impulse control.
- Increased self-awareness.
- More skillful responses to difficult emotions.
- Increased empathy and reduced aggression/bullying.
- Development of conflict resolution skills.
Click here for a brief video on the benefits of Mindfulness for youth.
M4K: Mindfulness 4 Kids and M4T: Mindfulness 4 Teens are taught on a weekly basis. Young children do shorter, more physical practices interspersed with games and hands-on activities. Older students have a greater capacity for understanding, so the Mindfulness 4 Teens program offers more explanation and group discussion, along with longer, more advanced mindfulness practices. Teens also have access to a dedicated Facebook page where they can discuss or ask questions about their experiences.
Private courses comprise nine one-hour weekly sessions, including an introductory session for parents. Class sizes run from a minimum of 5 children to a maximum of 15, and are grouped according to developmental stage. Note that concurrent Mindful Parenting classes are available on demand.
❧ Mindfulness Meditation Program for Adults
For adults, Mindfulness Meditation has many well-established benefits to both physical and emotional well-being. In addition to a positive impact on health (e.g., improvements in anxiety, depression, cardiovascular symptoms, immune response, cancer recovery, pain response and more), Mindfulness also teaches us to shift gears in the brain and nervous system, allowing us to respond more calmly and function more effectively in life. According to recent research, in as little as six weeks of daily practice, Mindfulness Training has been shown to produce changes in the brain, building up areas associated with calm and resilience, while diminishing the parts related to anxiety and reactivity.
In effect, these brain changes translate into more adaptive, responsive functioning. At work, Mindfulness practitioners have been found to be more collaborative, productive and efficient, with lower rates of interpersonal conflict, job stress and burnout. At home, Mindfulness practice can lead to more patient parenting, reduced stress and anxiety, and enhanced interpersonal relationships. In any environment, the outcome is greater well-being and an improved quality of life.
Our adult programs, Mindfulness for Adults, Mindful Parenting, Mindfulness at Work and Mindful Aging can be taught individually or in group format, on site at your office or school, or at our private West Island clinic. The recommended - and most popular - training comprises 10 weekly, one-hour classes, but training can be tailored to your specific needs in terms of duration and scheduling.
Ψ Social and Life Skills Groups
Children who have difficulty with social skills and/or behaviour often need guidance and encouragement to help them visualize and and then implement new ways of functioning. Telling them - even if it's over and over - is not usually enough! At the West Island Neuropsychology and Counseling Centre, our group facilitators teach essential skills through video demonstrations, modelling, role playing and practice opportunities during fun activities. With regular rehearsal and coaching, children can improve their self-control, coping abilities and communication skills. Our groups also focus on emotion regulation and distress tolerance, key components of resilience and well-being. Learning how to express their needs and feelings, behave appropriately in stressful situations and make and keep friends can increase a child’s overall self-confidence. Children are taught how to apply what they've learned into their outside environment, and once the group is finished, we offer optional follow-up services at home, in the daycare or at school.
Every child has a unique set of strengths and abilities. We believe that building on those strengths helps to instil positive self-esteem and provides children the confidence required to take charge of their own lives and to have a positive impact on the world around them.
Our 10-week Social and Life Skills Groups are offered for children ages 3-6 (60 minutes), 7-10 and 12-14 (90 minutes). Classes are also available for older children with special needs. Weekly sessions can be scheduled after school or on weekends. Contact us for more information!
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