Social Thinking® is a term coined by Michelle Garcia Winner, CCC-SLP and represents a coordinated teaching framework of curriculum, vocabulary, teaching tools and strategies for individuals aged preschool through adult. Learn more at www.socialthinking.com
Our counselor at Hill School offers weekly social skills groups utilizing Social Thinking® concepts and activities. Students are referred by parents or teachers, and groups are composed according to students’ ages and needs. Parents receive feedback regarding the concepts taught in group as well as ideas for practicing these skills in different settings.
This program, including its teacher or leader, is not affiliated with, nor has it been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by Michelle Garcia Winner and Think Social Publishing, Inc.
Taylor Spiker joined Hill School in 2013. She has a Master of Education in Counseling from Texas Christian University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern under the supervision of Heidi Tournoux-Hanshaw, LPC-AT/S, ATR-BC, ATCS.
As a school counselor, Mrs. Spiker offers individual counseling, group counseling, and classroom guidance to address social, emotional, and academic issues. She takes an integrated theoretical approach to counseling which includes solution-focused, person-centered, and cognitive-behavioral techniques. She also incorporates experiential activities such as art, games, and play to allow students to express what they would like different. To maximize the benefit to students, Mrs. Spiker collaborates with parents, teachers, and supervisors to help facilitate positive changes. Individual meetings are on an as-needed basis and are brief in nature. Groups last 30-45 minutes once a week for 6-10 weeks. Students, parents, teachers, and other school staff may make referrals for counseling services.
Content-specific Group Counseling
Whether the group centers around social skills, friendships, self-advocacy, or stress management, students learn they are not alone. In groups, students are able to make connections and learn from each other. Peers can be the greatest teachers, and students have the opportunity to practice interpersonal skills, hear others’ perspectives, and offer and receive guidance and support.
Social Skills & Character Guidance Lessons
Mrs. Spiker visits Lower School classrooms once a week to introduce concepts from Social Thinking and Boystown. Through discussion, role-play, videos, and hands-on activities, students learn and practice social skills and concepts. Interactions are processed, facilitated, and improved upon. Parents also receive feedback on how to practice these skills at home.
Middle and Upper School students receive weekly lessons in their Advisory classes. Lessons focus on social skills and soft skills such as communication, attitude, and problem-solving.
Should students need additional short-term or long-term counseling services, families will be provided with information about community mental health agencies and providers. If a student is currently in counseling with a mental health professional, Hill School will request that the legal guardian sign a release so Mrs. Spiker may communicate with that provider.
Crises can vary from one distraught student to a natural disaster. Plans are in place for managing a wide variety of emergencies, however rare.
Mindfulness is defined as paying attention to the present moment with kindness and without judgment. We live in a fast-paced world in which our minds are constantly flooded with thoughts, overstimulated, and stressed. (No wonder we have short attention spans!) Mindfulness teaches us to focus on one thing in the present moment, and then gently re-direct our attention when our minds begin to wonder.
Practicing mindfulness can be as simple (and as difficult) as sitting still for five minutes and solely paying attention to your breath and how it feels moving through your body. Mindful eating can be taking time to notice the color, texture, taste, and smell of the food you eat. Mindful walking can be focusing your attention on the sights you see, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and the sounds of the environment. A person who is experiencing anger or stress may practice mindfulness by noticing thoughts in the mind and feelings in the body without necessarily acting on those thoughts. Mindfulness creates space between stimuli and our response so that we can react reflectively rather than impulsively.
Studies show that those who practice mindfulness exhibit increases in focus and self-regulation, decreases in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and physiological changes such as slower heart rate and lower blood pressure when breathing mindfully. At Hill School, students are learning about the way their brains work – which parts act reactively and out of emotion and which parts act logically and with reason. During the school day, students practice “mindful moments”–activities such as focusing on their breathing, noticing feelings in different parts of their bodies, or observing the environment using their five senses. Through these mindful moments, students are training their brains to concentrate, remain engaged and aware, think before acting, and sit in stillness and quiet.