Is my child ready for group therapy?
How will I know if my child is progressing?
What if I can't come weekly?
Can I go in the therapy room with my child?
Can I meet with the clinician individually?
Below are frequently asked questions by families and new clients:
Is my child ready for a group?
At Social Sparks, we strive to make the group therapy experience a successful and positive experience for all participants. The environment created for effective group therapy is very important, as many clients can initially be reluctant to participate and feel comfortable. A great deal of time and consideration is taken in making group placements to be sure that the peer group and curriculum content is appropriate for the individual client's needs. Following the intake assessment, the clinician may recommend that some individual therapy work is needed to better prepare a client for group therapy. A transition plan for moving from individual to group therapy will be developed to ensure a more successful group experience. Additionally, if a client is engaging in aggressive or unsafe behaviors, it will be recommended that the client participates in individual therapy sessions prior to beginning a group. In some cases, clients may benefit from taking a break from the group to focus on individual work if they are having difficulty engaging in the group setting. Referrals for home-based or emergency outpatient services may be recommended to provide more foundational skills to better prepare clients for the group setting.
If a client is currently participating in emergency outpatient services or intensive ABA, we recommend that these programs are completed before pursuing outpatient group therapy. We may also recommend at least one individual session following the completion of HBTS services, before starting the group. It is helpful if we are able to connect with the HBTS clinician to discuss treatment goals and progress. To truly engage and benefit from the group experience, the client must possess some of the foundational skills needed to participate in a group setting. Some of these skills include following basic directions, maintaining the safety of self and others, and remaining in the designated space without the risk of flight or elopement. Social Sparks' staff work hard to support the engagement of all members in group therapy, however, most groups run with 1-2 adults in the room at all times. Any recommendations given to better prepare the client for the group are made in an effort to ensure a positive association and experience with group therapy.
Can I go into the room with my child for therapy?
Due to confidentiality and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws and expectations, parents are not allowed to remain in the group therapy sessions with their child. However, the last 5-10 minutes of the group are designated to parents coming into the group therapy session to review the group's activities and skills covered in the session. If a more private conversation is needed, a family session can be scheduled with the group clinician.
What if I can't attend a session or group? What if I can't come every week?
We ask that all families give notice of absences via email at or by phone at 401-475-0653. There is a NO CALL/NO SHOW fee of $25. For group therapy to be most successful, we find that weekly attendance is crucial. Attending the group weekly provides consistency for the client and other group members. It also allows the client to build stronger and more trusting relationships with other group members. Missing content covered in a group can make it difficult for clients to fully engage when attending inconsistently. Group concepts often build from one week to the next. Please communicate your availability at intake so that we can take this into consideration when determining the most appropriate group placement.
How long does it take to see results from therapy?
Therapy is a very individualized and changing process that varies from person to person. Unfortunately, there is no way to put a definitive timeline on therapy. The first 3-4 sessions are used as an assessment period to develop individualized goals and identify strengths and areas of need for each client. Family sessions can be scheduled at any time to discuss the progress of your child in the group setting.
How do you choose a group for my child?
Kristen Spencer, LICSW completes all group placements after a thorough review of each client's intake assessment. Client needs, developmental level, strengths, and interests are all taken into consideration for appropriate and successful group placement. There are times that group placement may change after an initial assessment of functioning within the group setting based on the best interest of the client and the therapeutic goals.
Can my child participate in multiple groups and will my insurance pay for it?
Some insurance plans only allow for two outpatient sessions a week, however, if you would like to have your child attend more therapeutic groups, there is a self-pay option for groups not covered by insurance. Check with your insurance provider or at the front desk for more information about your specific eligibility and benefits.
Can I speak with the clinician of my child's group?
Yes, we encourage as much family engagement as possible. Parents or guardians of children receiving group therapy can talk with clinicians briefly at the end of each group session. If more time is needed, we encourage scheduling a family session with the group clinician. For those receiving individual therapy, parent and family engagement is coordinated and planned with each providing clinician on a case by case assessment. Please note, if the client is 18 or older and you are not the legal guardian, the client will need to sign a release to permit your communication with the clinician.
What if I can't afford my co-payment for therapy services?
All insurances require co-payments to be collected at the time of service. It is a violation of the insurance agreement to negotiate or alter the copay amount.
Can my child change groups if they don't like it?
We encourage parents to work with the group clinician and discuss the current status and concerns of the child's participation in group therapy. Each case can be assessed individually. If there is evidence of a therapeutic need to change groups, a plan will be developed to transition the client to a more appropriate group.
How do I know if my child is progressing in the group?
The therapeutic process is individualized based on each client. Progress in a group setting can look very different than progress in an individual or one-on-one setting. Progress can include being able to adapt to the group routine and dynamics as well as increasing participation on a week to week basis. Therapeutically, progress can be further assessed by the client's ability to demonstrate an understanding of skills, their application of learned skills in the group, and the ability to work through conflict as it arises. Generalization of skills outside of the group setting is based on the individual client, their progress in the group setting, and the support available in other environments to carry out the skills. As always, family engagement is key to the progress of each client's participation at Social Sparks and is encouraged.
If I have concerns, who can I direct them to?
For group and individual therapy services, families are always encouraged to bring initial concerns or questions directly to the provider or clinician. This is best practice in working towards the client's treatment goals. If that has been done and concerns still arise, please feel free to contact Kristen Spencer at 401-475-0653 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens if I miss my appointment for group or individual services?
At Social Sparks, we understand that emergencies arise and that there are times when appointments must be canceled due to factors outside of the client's control. We make every effort to work with families when these occasions arise to maintain the client's placement in the group. If there becomes a pattern of repetitive cancellations for group therapy sessions, a $25 fee will be charged for each missed session. Unless an arrangement has been made with the front office, the balance must be paid before returning to therapy. For individual therapy services, the provider or clinician maintains the right to end services after three no show/call appointments or chronic canceling of appointments. The $25 no show/call fee also applies.