55 Chapel Street, Suite 202, Newton, Ma 02458

75 Gilcreast Road, Suite 305, Londonderry, NH 03053

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For articles after June 4, 2018 please visit nesca-newton.com/nesca-notes/.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why Your Teenager Prefers Expressive Arts Therapy

By Tonya White, Expressive Arts Therapist
March 23rd 2017

 Christiana shows us her personal experience of the power of art therapy in the most appropriate way – through art. 

In the video, How Art Therapy Changed My Life provided by the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Christiana describes her experience in art therapy as well as what she learned about herself by speaking while she draws. Christiana describes not feeling comfortable talking with professionals but she built trust with her art therapist by making art together. Christiana describes using a piece of clay to create a representation of the pressures she felt and then stabbed that clay with a tool. 

She found that she understood her struggles more by being about to visualize them as well as being able to take out her frustration on the clay. 

She even goes as far to say that the experience was fun! 

This illustrates the comfort that Christiana developed as she engaged more and more deeply in the process. Christiana found her own specific artistic interest of embellishing shoes and continues to use this as a therapeutic activity in her own time.

In Art Therapy with Adolescents, an article in the Western Journal of medicine, Shirley Riley writes, “The greatest difficulty for an adult seeking to establish a relationship with an adolescent is the teen's resistance to authority and lack of trust in the adult world.” Riley explains that this is a natural stage of development of adolescents as they move toward adulthood and seek more independence. This can explain the difficulty adults may have in gaining the trust of an adolescent.

Art therapy gives an alternative to talking in therapy. 

There is space to work creatively and engage with an adolescent’s desire to express oneself. 

Riley reports that “the teens feel that they “lucked out” by having a therapist who is not interested in verbal cross-examination. Instead, their therapist is interested in their opinions of their world as expressed through imagery.”

Art therapy involving the visual arts is likely the most well known type of Expressive Arts Therapy, but is not the only one. 

Adolescents can express themselves through music, acting, movement/dance, poetry, and more. 

Tonya White, an Expressive Arts Therapist at NESCA, is trained to use any modality of creative arts that an individual is drawn to. Sometimes an adolescent may have a preferred method of creativity, and sometimes the Expressive Arts Therapist will suggest a method because it will work well with the topic at hand. 

Both individual and group expressive arts therapy is now being offered for children, adolescents, and young adults at NESCA. 

To learn more, contact Tonya White at twhite@nesca-newton.com or 617-600-8952



Expressive Arts Groups at NESCA
Sign up now!

Drama Therapy Groups: 
Acting Games and Social Skills Development

  • 8-week group
  • 3:30 - 4:30 pm on Mondays   
  • Preteens 
  • Improvisational acting games offer fun and structured ways to interact and make connections with fellow group members. Every game is used to teach key social skills and build each member's self-awareness and self-esteem. Some games have a simple structure, such as mirroring one another's movements. Some games involve acting out scenes you might see in real life. In an atmosphere of having fun, we will celebrate as each member's social confidence grows!
Mindfulness Groups: 

Mindfulness and Expressive Arts for Teens
  • 8-week group 
  • 5-6 pm on Mondays
  • Teenagers
  • Mindfulness is the practice of engaging in the present moment with compassion and non-judgement. It is an approach that helps with regulating emotions and attention - especially for those who experience anxiety. Practical ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday life.

Email Tonya White for more information or to sign up twhite@nesca-newton.com or fill out the intake form here

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Friend" Raiser for Mass Advocates for Children

NESCA is hosting a "Friend" Raiser for Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC). Please join us as we celebrate the wonderful and necessary work done at MAC. 

Come learn about the crucial work of MAC and lend your support to their efforts financially and by joining their mobilization efforts. The event's theme is Trump’s First 100 Days and Beyond: Impact on Children with Disabilities. Big changes ahead for education with the new administration. Please join us for a discussion of the threats to special education and other federal programs that support children with disabilities and how we can take action here in Massachusetts.

Guest Speakers:

Robert K. Crabtree

Special Education Attorney and Partner at Kotin, Crabtree, and Strong. Mr. Crabtree was a principal draftsman of the Massachusetts Special Education Reform Act (“Chapter 766”) in 1972 , an initiative that served as a model for the later-enacted federal special education act, now called "IDEA"

Julia Landau

Attorney and Director of the Disability Education Justice Initiative at Mass Advocates for Children

Jerry Mogul

Executive Director at Mass Advocates for Children

There will be a cash bar and plentiful hors d'oeuvres.

Entrance Fee: $25.00
To register for this event, please use the PayPal link below.


Please RSVP to: info@nesca-newton.com by April 28, 2017

We will return your email with the instructions for payment to hold your place.

We expect this event to fill quickly! (Please Note: We are only able to accommodate paid/registered guests)

Please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone you feel may be interested in joining us! Or share about the event on Facebook!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Becoming Social with the Help of Improv Acting

Article by: Tonya White, Expressive Arts Therapist at NESCA
March 22nd, 2017 

Many children who struggle with socializing and making friends need real practice - but with enough failed attempts, social situations can become a scary thing. Improvisational acting provides a context where a child can “pretend” to socialize within the structure of the games and with the support of counselors.

The games also come with a magic ingredient: FUN

Many of the games involve making one another laugh, getting to play out a character or activity that you enjoy, and getting to share this experience with peers. When a child can feel playful and have fun, they are not acting from a perspective of anxiety and avoidance, but they are naturally motivated to engage. NPR’s All Things Considered recently quoted Jim Ansaldo, who runs Camp Yes And, a summer improv acting camp for teens with autism. Jim says, "What improv really does is create a safe and fun and authentic environment in which to practice, where mistakes really don't matter."

And not only can improv acting provide a safe space to experience social success, the games can be used to directly teach skills that are important for a child to learn and use in order to be successful in other social situations. 

NPR’s All Things Considered also spoke with Rachel Magin, a doctoral student at the The Psychology Lab at Indiana State University who started a class for 6-9 year olds with autism using improv games to teach social skills. Rachel described a game where one child pulls a phrase out of a hat with an emotion written under that is asked to say the phrase while other participants guess the emotion. While very simple, this game allows the acting child and all of the other participants to practice and discuss together how to communicate and interpret emotions.

Beyond the therapeutic setting of these improv acting groups, we can see the power of acting to build confidence and lasting friendships in the comedy troupe Asperger’s Are Us. In a documentary about Asperger’s Are Us, which can now be viewed on Netflix, you see the friendship, hard work, and humor of these four adults with Asperger’s. They met at the Spotlight Program on the North Shore, a program teaching social skills through improv acting. Their website states, “We do not poke fun at Asperger's and we did not form to prove that autistic people can be funny. We formed for the same reason anyone does comedy: To make you laugh!”

NESCA is excited to be offering Acting Games for Social Skills Development group therapy. NESCA’s groups are for children who need to build social skills, who wish to make more friends, and those who experience social anxiety. These groups are for children with Asperger/Autism profiles as well as other profiles such as ADHD, Anxiety, Social Communication Disorder, and more. To learn more about these groups please contact Tonya White at twhite@nesca-newton.com or 617-600-8952.


Monday, March 20, 2017

NESCA Now Offers Parent-Child Therapy Groups

There are two new Parent-Child Therapy Groups starting at NESCA: 
          1) For parents and their 4-6 year old children 
          2) For parents and their 7-10 year old children 
  • These groups welcome children who present with emotional difficulties and behavior problems, such as disruptive and oppositional behaviors, as well as those who exhibit ADHD symptoms.
  • Informed by evidence-based treatments, such as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Russell Barkley’s behavioral parent training program, these groups aim to facilitate positive parent-child interaction patterns, help caregivers learn effective parent management strategies, and reduce challenging behaviors in children.
  • Our groups are highly structured and skill-based, with both in-session practice and homework designed to reinforce skills learned.
  • Parents will be provided with modeling and feedback during practice exercises. A token economy system will also be used to highlight rewarding positive behaviors.

Time-Limited Groups/ Meet Once Per Week
  • Cost: $100 Per Family- Per Week for Each Group
  • Location: NESCA offices – 55 Chapel Street, Newton, MA

If you are interested in joining the 4-6 year old group or have any questions, please contact:

If you are interested in joining the 7-10 year old group or have any questions, please contact:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NESCA Event Today in Derry NH

NESCA and Hartmann Learning Center are pleased to present this free workshop!

Understanding Your Developing Reader: 
How to Identify and Address Reading Challenges in Children

The workshop will address:

  • Developmental expectations and what typical reading development looks like
  • Reasons why children struggle to read
  • Red flags for reading problems
  • What to do when you are concerned about your child’s reading
  • Learning, emotional, and behavioral concerns that can be related to reading challenges
  • How reading challenges are assessed and diagnosed
  • How reading challenges are treated

Dr. Angela M. Currie, Ph.D., Pediatric Neuropsychologist, NESCA
Jill A. Hartmann, M.Ed., S.A.I.F., Hartmann Learning Center

Thursday March 16, 2017
Location: 1 ½ Hood Road, Derry, NH 03038

To learn about other NESCA Events check out our Facebook Page and NESCA Event Page!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

SPAN's Special Education Conference & 7th Annual School Fair

Representatives from a wide range of Special Education Schools will present information regarding student profiles, program services, admission requirements and placement options to professionals within the special education field. 

Former state legislator Tom Sannicandro will join for a morning Keynote address. Tom will inspire you with his extensive experience as a special education parent, attorney and advocate. 

Presentations throughout the day will zero in on What's Next in Special Education for Massachusetts? 

Thursday, March 23, 2017
8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, Marlborough, MA

Link for more information: