Hosted by Divvya Mirani, Clinically Yours, is a podcast that serves as a mental health resource for the community. Tune in twice a month with mental health professionals as we discuss mental health topics related to children and adolescents in efforts to demystify diagnoses and illuminate mental health issues. Episodes cover self-esteem, ADHD, autism, self-harm, addiction, cultural influences, and treatment options.

In this episode Divvya’s guest is Lincoln Prairie therapist, Meeko Reddick. In this episode we discuss:

  • What is group therapy at Lincoln Prairie
  • What are the different age ranges for each group
  • How are groups conducted


Divvya: Hello everybody. Thank you for joining us today on clinically yours, Lincoln Prairie today, Miko, our in patient therapist and I will be discussing group therapy at Lincoln Prairie on an inpatient basis and what that looks like some components of our inpatient treatment here at Lincoln Prairie is comprised of individual group and family counseling. Group therapy in particular plays a major role during a child’s hospitalization here at Lincoln Prairie. While the Children do receive individual therapy here, which helps them explore their emotions, responses to stress and steps they can take to improve their emotional well-being. It doesn’t really address the specific difficulties kids face in the classroom, on the playing field or in small groups. So group therapy gives therapists. Let me go an opportunity to see how kids relate to one another in a group setting for kids struggling with social anxiety, poor skills or inattentiveness. The group setting offers the therapist a chance to help kids work through their obstacles with other kids as they occur. Group therapy can also be a source of support um, for kids dealing with grief, bullying anxiety and depression and other mental health issues. And here at Lincoln Prairie, we Most of our treatment, I would say about 90-95% is group therapy and Meeko leads most of our group groups here at the hospital. And so Meeko, can you tell us more about the groups that you run here? What um, what are the age groups?

Meeko: Let’s start with the age groups of we don’t have, as I will say, I run about nine groups. Um, the age range of those groups is um starting off with twin girls. Um that’s from ages maybe around 10 to I wouldn’t say 10. Let’s go up to about 11 to 12. 11 or 12 All the way up to 13. And then, between group and then after that adolescent girls group will be from 13 all the way up to 17. Um So it just really depends on that for and this is the same for adolescent boys and twin boys as well. Our next group um will be pe pediatrics. If we have full capacity here at the hospital, we split those in between and that would be biggs and littles, all of them being together as peds. Um and those age ranges can be I would say for Biggs will probably be from six all the way down to 10 if I’m not mistaken. And with peds of course our youngest can be as young as three. And I would say three all the way up to about five.

Divvya: Are they separated like the older ones? Like boys and girls or?

Meeko: Yes. Yes, they are. There are there are two separate groups. Um 1, 1 is 45 minutes, of course for a big group and 30 minutes for the younger.

Divvya: And what do you do in these groups, what does treatment look like? How do you run them?

Meeko: So that that’s always a good question. I get asked that a lot about what do I do and all that. So you do CBT and DBT um approaches to therapy. So cognitive behavior therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Um All of my groups are based off that. So we’re really focusing on of course in CBT about the thinking and the cognitive side of things. And then dialectical behavior therapy I really focus on is very similar to cognitive behavior therapy. But we focus more on like gaining coping skills and how when they’re going through things like trauma, anything like that. We talked about building relationships, uh emotional regulation and living in the present..

Divvya: tangible things they can do..

Meeko: yep. So yes, so and and things that can really just help them when they go into a lot of things like their trauma at home because stuff that they face outside of here, A lot of them don’t know how to process it. A lot of them don’t know what to do when they are feeling that way. So they really just act out impulsively or they act out in a way that they felt like, hey, I’ve done this all my life. So I’m gonna continue to keep doing this. So here, I mean groups, not only are we talking about, you know why they’re here and um what’s going on with their situation, uh things like self esteem etcetera, but we also focus on learning and how can we learn how to deal with these emotions and stuff when they’re when they’re present. Alright. So if you are being very angry, right? We want to acknowledge that emotional regulation. We want to regulate that. Hey, you have the right to feel that way. But it’s all about what you do after you feel that way. So we don’t want you to go out and do anything unhealthy or negative about that anger. Taking an anger and put it towards something that you actually like you can..

Divvya: it’s okay to react but react in a positive productive way rather than going and breaking something

Meeko: Exactly. And a lot of our kids go to is that I’m not hurting anybody else. I’m just hurting myself like that. It shouldn’t be a problem. It’s like, no, you are somebody and you know, we try to get them to understand their worth here because maybe outside of here that maybe don’t feel like people value them. They don’t feel like the people who really care about them or what’s going on in their life. So at the hospital, um, in my groups I know specifically, I want them to know like, Hey, everybody here has a voice. I don’t let any kid go unnoticed in there. I want them to make sure that they know that I care and I want them to be heard. Um so we have a lot of kids that made me feel like I’m gonna be quiet. I’m not gonna say anything and I’ll be like, hey listen such, what do you think about this? And they all really appreciate that because they show that hey, you’re not giving up on me like everybody else.

Divvya: And that was what I wanted to ask you. I’m sure there are a lot of kids who engaged and there are some who probably disengage, how do you make it interactive or how do you get the kids who are, who don’t want to open up or what kind of shy?

Meeko: that’s a good question. Um so I was say a typical day for me. So on monday monday is always like the first day of the week. So I always call, it is the first step to our journey this week. So on our journey that we were going on, we want to make sure that we’re introducing ourselves, we want to kind of set the tone for what the week is gonna look like. Um So we also get a lot of new patients from out through the weekend. We have something that’s still been there for a little bit, but I always make everybody that’s brand new to the group share what they’re there for. Um majority of time we get everybody to share, but it’s not always like that, it’s not always perfect. It doesn’t always work exactly because you know, and the big thing to, it is what you spoke about earlier. It’s just about the social aspect to a lot of them aren’t socially ready to share with a bunch of strangers, you know, that they don’t know. So um in that in that beginning group we do get a lot of them to get a little bit more comfortable because maybe over the weekend they probably got rid of that shyness that they’ve been having, and they got to connect on a more personal level with with their peers, and then when they come to group therapy um they now see like, okay, I can trust these people, you know, we’ve connected, we kind of learned a little bit about each other so I can let them in to my life and be vulnerable.

Divvya: And so are there times when a child does not want to participate even after that? What do you therapists do? How do you try to engage them and they or not, does it happen or do you?

Meeko: Yes, it does. It does. That’s a really good question actually. Um because that’s actually one of the things I beat myself up over a lot, because I want all the kids to share, and I feel like I beat myself up like, man, I think I didn’t do well enough, but sometimes they don’t be there and they let me know that mr was not you I love and enjoy your groups, but, you know, throughout my life, I haven’t really been open about it. I don’t really communicate, I don’t really share stuff, so um I usually address the whole group as a whole letting them know like, hey, I’m not gonna force you to talk or anything like that, but we would love to hear, you know, I try to say things like that to entice them to know like, hey, this is exactly right. I want them to know like, hey, we actually want to hear from you. I don’t want you to think that you’re going to be ignored, like maybe you were before you got here. Um and I tell all of them, like all of you guys have a voice in here so anybody can speak. It’s not just one person that maybe talks all the time, nope, that person that may not share too much stuff. I’m going to check in with them too as well to make sure they know that there is as a part of this group as the next person. Um so yeah, I think we do a really good job at that.

Divvya: Okay, and why do you think group therapy is important?

Meeko: I know I touched a little bit about it earlier when we talked about, you know, they’re going to go back into the, into the school setting or on the playground um compared to individual therapy, which is also equally important.

Divvya: Why do you think individual therapy is more important?

Meeko: So an individual, of course, you know, you can kind of work on your own personal issues with your individual therapist. Of course, if it’s just doing individual sessions or with your family session, um with the difference between group and I think the reason why it’s more important um is because of the connection that you build with the peers and the feedback, the peer feedback that you get. Um some guidance that you get from a therapist in there. I mean, and also just the privilege to hear other people’s stories about the things that they go through on a daily basis in their life to where a lot of our kids come in, only being the only one in their hometown, or only one in their school or in their household to be dealing with mental health or two have had issues of suicide or had issues of self harm or homicidal or whatever, the issue that they’re dealing with. But then in group, when they get to sit there, a lot of them, like I said earlier, they’re shy, they don’t want to talk, but when they hear the next person and I’m like, yeah, I’ve done this, I’ve attempted before and I’m here to get better and all that. You always see a click, it’s like, wow, now I can open up because they are relatable, especially at this specific age that we host here at the hospital. They’re so influenced at this age and so they think, oh, someone else is doing it. Oh yeah, so maybe I can not brag about it, but I feel like some sometimes kids do, kids do do that. I have done this before and I’ve done that before. Yeah, it does get a little braggadocious. I think that’s a big thing that you see with this with this generation and and I was just talking with the kids about that today actually, um just about the influence of how everything is so publicized with them now. So like going to social media and sharing it and you know, and I just told him like it’s really a double edged sword on that because you know, on one side you’re doing the right thing by sharing and being open and, and uh and inviting other people into be like, hey, you’re not alone, like I’m not going to do this, but on the other side, um also putting that out there is making yourself more vulnerable because there’s also going to be people that may look at things a little bit different. So, um so I just was sharing with that with them today um on the importance of, you know, a good reality check for them because you know,

Divvya: I was just bringing up social media, you think everybody, everybody is perfect all the lives are perfect, but it’s really not like that behind the scene.

Meeko: Yeah, that was good. That was exactly what they talked about today. It was just like, Um I think body image was like a top thing that was being spoken about in group today and I’m a lot of them was like, well, a lot of famous people look like this and it gets me and some of them sound like man at age 12. I was, you know, body shaming myself or had gender dysphoria and all these things like that based off of what society was setting them to see like what the norm should be. But I told them about just letting yourself know that hey, as long as you love yourself, that’s where you have to start at the more you keep comparing yourself to the next person, You will continue to keep driving yourself down that, that, that deep tunnel where you can become depressed story. You feel like you’re not worth anything.

Divvya: So yeah, that’s perfect. I love that. Awesome. All right, well thank you Meeko. We hope you enjoyed learning about group therapy today at Lincoln Prairie. If you would like to learn more, please give us a call at 217-585-1180. Until next time. Stay happy. Stay hydrated. And we’ll see you around. Thank you for tuning in to clinically yours Lincoln Prairie.