“Non-Therapy” for Seniors: Next Stop, Assisted Living?

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 07 May 2012

They sit and talk about “dependence and independence,” and they range in age from 75 to 88. It’s not officially called a therapy group, but this special workshop, led by a clinical social worker/psychoanalyst named Wendy Wilson, is instead called “Vibrant Seniors.” Featured in a recent New York Times article, a group of six women have been regularly gathering in Wilson’s Long Island home and, according to Wilson, are “talking about topics they otherwise never would have.”

This July, Wilson will share her good results with attendees at the National Association of Social Workers, hoping the “non-therapy” model can emerge elsewhere: particularly, in assisted living, seniors centers, and even therapists’ offices.

Wilson is 70 years old and speaks from experience, stating in the article, “The stereotypes older adults are facing have harmed their self-esteem, their confidence, their mental health.”

Though the need for these groups in senior living settings may be clear, exactly how these sessions will work and who will lead them (and based on that answer, who will pay for them), remains to be seen. It’s always wise to gauge residents’ interest level first; the activities director could host small monthly discussion groups to clarify need and determine demand.

Talk back: Do you think your relative/friend in assisted living could benefit from one of these workshops?



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