Monthly Archives: October 2015

Psychotherapy at ABS

(by Melissa Snyder)


Therapy works to:

• Understand the behaviors, emotions, and ideas that contribute to depression and/or anxiety.
• Understand and identify the life problems or events — like a major illness, a death in the family, a loss of a job or life issues such as divorce that can lead to depression.
• Restructure ways of thinking, negative attributes and attitudes someone has about himself/herself, and ways in which faulty thinking may perpetuate depression
• Regain a sense of control and pleasure in life
• Learn coping techniques and problem-solving skills
• Learn coping skills such as distraction, relaxation, non-judgment and acceptance and how to apply them in your daily life.

Psychodynamic Therapy for Depression and Anxiety
Psychodynamic therapy because of unresolved, generally unconscious conflicts, often stemming from childhood. The goal of this type of therapy is for the patient to understand and cope better with these feelings by talking about the experiences. Psychodynamic therapy is administered over a period of weeks to months to years.
Solution Focused Therapy for Depression and Anxiety
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the behaviors and interactions a depressed patient has with family, friends, co-workers, and other important people encountered on a day-to-day basis. The primary goal of this therapy is to improve communication skills and increase self-esteem during a short period of time. It usually lasts three to four months and works well for depression caused by loss and grief interpersonal conflicts, major life events, social isolation, or role transitions (such as becoming a mother or a caregiver).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) includes several different approaches to therapy, all of which focus on how thinking affects the way a person feels and acts. The idea of cognitive behavioral therapy is that you can change your way of thinking about a situation, and when you do, you also change the way you feel and act. As a result, you can feel better, and behave differently in response to life stresses, even when the situation stays the same.
While other approaches to therapy rely heavily on analyzing and exploring people’s relationship with the world around them, the focus of CBT is on learning. The therapist functions in many ways similar to a teacher. He or she guides the client through the process of learning how to change his or her way of thinking and then how to act on that learning. Because there is a specific goal and a process for arriving at it, CBT is often more narrowly focused. It also is typically completed in less time than other therapies.
Two examples of different types of CBT are:
• Rational emotive behavior therapy or REBT. REBT focuses on the way emotions affect thinking and actions. It helps the client recognize that the intensity of negative emotions can change the quality of his or her thinking. The result is often overreaction and loss of perspective. The emphasis of therapy then is on learning how to restore emotional balance by thinking more realistically about situations.

• Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. DBT emphasizes the validity of a person’s behavior and feelings and reassures the individual that those feelings and behaviors are understandable. At the same time, it encourages the individual to understand that the responsibility for changing unhealthy or disruptive behavior is his or her own.

Therapeutic Play Therapy is a well established discipline based upon a number of psychological theories. Research, shows that it is highly effective in many cases. According to PTI, 71% of children referred to play therapy will show positive change.

A safe, confidential and caring environment is created which allows the child to play with as few limits as possible but as many as necessary for safety. This allows healing to occur on many levels. Play and creativity for children operate on impulses from outside our awareness. Play is a natural environment for kids to express their thoughts and feelings.
During play, the therapist may reflect back to the child observations of what has happened during the session. Sessions may last from 45 to 50 min.
During play therapy the therapist may utilize puppets, sand trays, art, role play, storytelling, games, etc.

Art Therapy is a form of play therapy, it is an expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.
You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits, the therapist can work with you to dive into the underlying messages communicated through your art, which will aid in the healing process.
Therapists are trained to pick up on nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are often expressed through art and the creative process, concepts that are usually difficult to express with words. It is through this process that the individual really begins to see the effects of art therapy and the discoveries that can be made.

Social Skills Programs at ABS

ABS Social Skills

 We are changing the way Social Skills programs are run here at ABS. We will be running the 8 week programs, with three possible levels of classes for each of the two programs, 4 times a year with the next classes running Sept 28-Oct 2 through Nov 16-20. The program includes a one hour screening with Andy (for new clients who have not worked with Andy) and has a total cost of $320 which must be prepaid at first visit. If client/parents have already seen Andy and he knows the proper placement then the cost would be $280 ($35 per class which is typical group therapy insurance reimbursement rate).

We can start scheduling for the screening appointments now (call 801 935-4171 ext 0, or email At the screening appointment, Andy will spend an hour clarifying goals and determining proper placement for the three levels of classes. The three levels of classes are designed to place children with others with whom they can interact well.

Social Skills Groups (by Andy Saalfield)


Social skills programs are intended to provide children and teens the opportunity to learn and practice appropriate social interactions in a safe and structured environment. These programs are designed to teach specific social skills that children and teens can take with them into their everyday lives and which will give them more confidence and success in social settings.

Alternative Behavior Strategies offers two social skills programs, depending on the age of the child. Both of these programs are geared toward children and teens who may have difficulty fostering positive relationships, who struggle with engaging in meaningful conversations with family and peers, or may lack confidence in social situations.

Alternative Behavior Strategies offers two social skills programs, depending on the age of the child. Both of these programs are geared toward children and teens who may have difficulty fostering positive relationships, who struggle with engaging in meaningful conversations with family and peers, or may lack confidence in social situations.

For younger children, 5-8 years of age, ABS utilizes the first eight units of the “Super Heroes” curriculum, each focused on a different social skill that, when used in conjunction with previous units, can help children manage a wide variety of social situations they may encounter. The first five units “Get Ready, “Following Directions,” “Reducing Anxiety,” “Participate,” and “Imitation” focus on a child’s presentation and behaviors. These units are more age and developmentally appropriate for younger children and incorporate a combination of videos, comics, and role playing to teach the lesson in a variety of ways. The final three units revolve around verbal communication skill development, specifically “Expressing Wants and Needs,” “Joint Attention,” and “Turn Taking.” At the end of the 8-week curriculum, it is the goal of the program that children will be able to incorporate lessons from each unit into their everyday communication.

For children and teens 9 years and older, ABS uses the “PEERS” (Program for the Evaluation and Enrichment of Relational Skills). This evidence-based curriculum has been used extensively to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disorders to learn social skills that are present in every day settings. Designed to incorporate parents in the learning process, PEERS involves homework and in-group activities for each unit that may often require the participation of parents or guardians.

The PEERS program curriculum is tailored for adolescents with a greater social repertoire, but still struggle to foster and maintain healthy relationships. The PEERS full curriculum is 14 units and depending on skills and ages, groups may move through these units at different paces. These units cover conversation basics including two-way conversations and entering and leaving conversations, also the curriculum teaches skills regarding electronic communication, choosing appropriate friends, using humor, social outings, sportsmanship, teasing and bullying, and social rejection.   These units are structured and outlined by the creators of the PEERS program to promote and learn from social interactions within the social group settings that can be used at home, school, or at lunch with friends.

Social skills groups such as these are intended to give children with poor or limited social skills the opportunity to learn new ways of interacting with peers, improve communication within the home and school, and to enhance their every day lives. So, if you child has a hard time talking to peers, making friends, or struggles to maintain relationships, social skills groups may be able to help

Social Skills Group Curriculum

Here’s a brief overview of the curriculum for the two programs.

SuperHeroes Kids age 5-8.

All weeks will included homework and in-group and at-home activities for the participants:

  • Week 1. Getting Ready
  • Week 2. Following Directions
  • Week 3. Reducing Anxiety
  • Week 4. Participation
  • Week 5. Imitation
  • Week 6. Expressing Wants and Needs
  • Week 7. Joint Attention
  • Week 8. Turn Taking

(These titles taken from the SuperHeroes manual)

PEERS   Kids and teens aged 9+

For older participants, the groups will focus more heavily on communication skills.

All weeks will included homework and in-group and at-home activities for the participants:

  • Week 1. Introduction and Trading Information
  • Week 2. Conversational Skills: Two-Way Conversations
  • Week 3. Conversational Skills: Electronic Communication
  • Week 4. Choosing Appropriate Friends
  • Week 5. Appropriate Use of Humor
  • Week 6. Conversational Skills: Entering a Conversation
  • Week 7. Conversational Skills: Exiting a Conversations
  • Week 8. Social Outing and Get-Togethers

(These titles taken from the PEERS manual)

Dr Bonnie Yee-Hebert, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Yee-Herbert is our clinical psychologist at ABS in California and will be doing assessments at:  8350 Archibald Ave #125, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730


Dr. Bonnie Yee specializes in treating all ages, utilizing behavioral therapies and conducting psychological/neuropsychological evaluations.   Dr. Yee’s current experience includes comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations for diagnosis for learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, cognitive dysfunction, medical conditions impacting behavior, dementia related evaluations, and traumatic brain injuries. She also can provide comprehensive neuropsychological assessments to address a wide variety of disabilities, disorders, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as rehabilitative treatments.

Dr. Yee holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and Post-Doctoral Specialization in Neuropsychology. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from University of California, Irvine, her Doctoral degree at American School of Professional Psychology, where she earned Magna Cum Laude honors, and a Post-Doctoral specialization at Fielding University. Dr. Yee is a member of Orange County Psychological Association.

Before coming onboard at ABS, Dr. Yee-Herbert was a Consulting Psychologist with the Department of Rehabilitation in Orange County, CA where her responsibilities included:

  • Conducting comprehensive assessment of applicants for services to determine eligibility and priority of services for Department of Rehabilitation, aid counselors in development of Individualized Plans for Employment;
  • Identifying functional capacities and limitation, and developing strategies with counselors for dealing with conflict or mental health issues that impede progress in various stages of the pre-plan process;
  • Providing consultation to counselors for the diagnosis on mental health disabilities, and consults with service delivery staff on psychological issues and concerns pertaining to the aspects of the disability;
  • Conducting psychological assessments and testing to evaluate consumers with a variety of disabling conditions;
  • Explaining results of Psychological assessments and testing to consumers;
  • Conducting staff training for mental health issues, the effects of traumatic brain injuries and identifying what compensatory strategies would improve functioning, learning and mental health disabilities, and other cognitive impairments on potential employment.