Exciting Announcement: Bringing Cognitive Science and Universal Design to Evoke Therapy Programs

Posted by Sanford Shapiro, M.Ed, Learning Specialist Executive Consultant for Evoke Therapy Programs on June 06, 2019

Sanford SI have been an educational consultant for over thirty years. I am also a parent of a child with learning differences and mental health struggles. It’s been my professional mission to learn about and then teach the intersections between cognitive science and behavioral health. The back and forth highways between how our minds (brains and bodies) process information and mental health struggles have driven much of my research, consulting, and teaching. The impacts on the lives of children, teenagers and young adults are profound. The impacts on repair work is equally compelling.

I am beyond excited to be joining with the leadership of Evoke Therapy in bringing a new level of connecting our knowledge of mental health and healing with advances in the neuroscience of learning and learning disabilities. We are focused on bringing a Universal Design (UDL) approach to enhance therapy and phase work curriculum. Consider this UDL example: a sloped sidewalk ramp provides access and better function for people with sprained ankles, elders with canes and those on crutches but also benefits skateboarders and parents with baby strollers. This approach, when applied to curriculum and communication, is of great benefit to many. Better alignment of therapeutic approaches with how our kids process information makes perfect neurological sense, supports attunement and lessens resistance. We can adjust a writing assignment to be shorter (without losing essence) and/or include another form of expression like art for a student with dyslexia and who may not easily express in written language. Such accommodations help our staff open possibilities for all students with all kinds of minds. Applying this science of learning enhances engagement (motivation and feelings), frees up representation (providing different ways of teaching) and expands action or expression (providing different ways students can express their understanding).

We are confident this will result in the highest levels of accessibility to the widest range of student learner profiles.

The effects of “educational wounding” in our youth are growing larger and more damaging. School struggle remains one of the top stressors in the day to day lives of our children. The isolation and shame inherent in school failure and disengagement lead to unbearably high probability for depression, anxiety, self-harm, and addictions.

Wilderness Treatment is positioned to be one of the groundbreakers in this effort. Relational excellence and best behavioral health approaches already inherent in good programs provide a solid foundation for peak learning and healing. We intend to add considerable enhancements to that foundation as well as to bring a new level of aftercare recommendations as a result.

We’ve embarked on a rigorous and thorough path to expand on the already considerable skills and outcomes of Evoke Therapy. This is a bottom up and inside out driven process. In other words, in order to create new levels of understanding and expertise, all staff will be exploring their own cognitive processing profiles. By understanding our own learning profile including executive functions, language, and visual processing, mentors and therapists are in a much stronger position to understand and reach teenagers.

This on-going training cuts across all domains, from admissions to field instructors and therapists. It’s a collaborative and all-encompassing initiative that further supports Evoke’s founding principles and meshes perfectly with my own; to “Continually innovate and evolve” and to “Provide the best possible treatment for each client’s whole-health.”

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