FAQ (Frequently asked questions)
Q. Is this the right place for my child?
A. Part of our intake process is to find the right service for your child. This could look like group, individual counseling or a consultation. For a group to be the best option, he or she will need to be a match physically, developmentally, emotionally, maturity and have a congruence of goals and needs with the existing group. We do not arbitrarily place child just by age and grade.
Q. Does the group stay the same all year? How many children per group? Will we know anyone?
A. The maximum commitment to a group is 14 weeks. However, most children attend for at least the remainder of the school year from when they began - many into the next year as well. Groups are very consistent and range in number from 2 - 7 members. We go to great lengths to try and preserve the privacy of the children; therefore we do not place children who go to school together in the same group.
Q. What type of approach do you use?
A. We operate from a strength based model by emphasizing what the children do well and positive contributions they are making. In group the model is "learn-by-doing". Children will learn to communicate, problem-solve, negotiate and understand the cause and effect of their behavior by being with other children in a safe environment.
Q. Should I stay in the waiting room? Can I observe?
A. We encourage parents to use the session time in a way that makes sense for them - whether that be running errands or sitting in the waiting room working, reading or talking to other parents. We do try and preserve the privacy and confidentiality of the group members, therefore observing is not allowed. However, please contact your child's counselor if you'd like specifics on how things are going in the group.
Q. What time are the groups?
A. Groups are conducted Monday - Thursday at 2:30, 3:30, 5:00, and 6:20. Group starting times might also be staggered slightly to accommodate the space. Typically the later into the day the older the child (i.e., 2:30 are usually kindergarteners; 6:20 groups are middle and high school). However, to allow for proper spacing and distancing, groups may also be developed at times other than those stated.
Q. Is there a waiting list?
A. Children may often start within 1- 2 weeks of their interview provided we have a compatible group, meeting at a time the family can commit to and there is space in it. If there is not currently a group that would match well with your child, or if your child matches well with a group that is already full with 7 kids, you will be placed on a waitlist and we will contact you when an appropriate space opens up.
Q. Can you describe a "typical" game?
A. Most games at the Academy involve the group working together for a common goal. The success of one member depends upon the success of another and the more the group works together the more success they will find. Problem-solving games where the group has to communicate and figure out a challenge (e.g., how to get from point A to point B without touching some of the obstacles in the way) are frequently employed. Team obstacle course where we work on a group time, games where the staff play against the group or challenge games where the children are encouraged to push themselves beyond their self-imposed limitations are also utilized.
However, the activity is the "tool" for getting to the process of the children in relation to one another. Counselors carefully select activities that they feel the group can master while working on the social-emotional challenges inherent in them.
Q. What do you hope to gain with the activities?
A. To work on developmental task such as social skills, self-confidence, assertiveness, responsibility, frustration tolerance, managing feelings and emotions and ultimately a positive sense of self and self-esteem.
Q. How do I describe the Academy to my child?
A. You can tell your child that the Academy is a place to meet new kids, try new activities and learn new and different ways to make friends. If you have used specific language with your child in discussing what is hard for them, you should use the same language. For instance, "You know how we have talked about it being challenging to go up to kids and make friends? Well, the Academy is a place that helps children learn how to do that, and best of all you get to play games while practicing."
Q. Is there much communication with the counselors?
A. Yes we encourage a great deal of formal and informal communication. Parents can schedule conferences with the leaders (you are entitled to one formal conference per fourteen week period), sign waivers for us to speak with teachers or other professionals working with the child, or attend our open houses during the year. We also welcome phone calls, check-ins at drop-off or pick-up and want to stay connected to you.
Q. How long does a child stay in the program?
A. The average length a child stays in the program is 1.5 years (about 60 weeks).
Q. Are your services covered by insurance companies?
A. Generally no. However, under unique circumstances if an individual clinician (not the Academy) is a provider then limited reimbursement is possible.