Structured Groups

Averte programming also includes many diverse structured activities throughout the week. These opportunities are designed to develop daily living skills, foster healthy decision-making, and enhance interpersonal experiences.

Community Integration & Volunteer Program
Averte utilizes several different volunteer opportunities to assist with community integration:

The Local Food Shelf- The local food shelf provides nutritious supplies for those in the community that need assistance. Averte Residents and staff assist with the duties at the food shelf.
DHMC – Several MMF Residents volunteer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in the roles of escort, distribution, gift shop, and flower delivery.
Senior Centers – Several MMF Residents donate their time to one of the local senior centers with meal assistance and the meals on wheels program.
Animal Shelters – Local animal shelters provide great opportunities for our residents to volunteer while also benefitting from therapeutic contact with animals.
Local Library – At times Residents not only utilize the local public library, but often have the opportunity to volunteer their time as well.
Bradford Elementary School – MMF has volunteered in many positions including; the school library, reading groups, and the after school program.

Healthy Living Group
Healthy Living Group was developed for residents who currently use tobacco products, regardless of their stage of change with regard to their use. This group was designed after the Learning About Healthy Living curriculum, funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services, a project dedicated to reducing the prevalence of tobacco use in those with a mental illness. This group provides its members with education and resources specific to tobacco use, in order to best inform their decision about continuing their use or moving forward with tobacco cessation. Following completion of Healthy Living Group, residents have the opportunity to utilize individualized support to develop and follow through with a tobacco cessation plan.

Work for Wellness
This group experiences hands-on community service activities, while focusing on developing stamina and focus, in addition to building teamwork practices and socialization skills.

Social Activities group
This weekly structured evening group involves a variety of fun and engaging group activities, providing pro-social opportunities for fun and friendship.

Cooking Group
This biweekly activity was created to encourage the development of independent living skills, specifically around healthy food choice, effective grocery shopping, recipe understanding, and basic cooking skills. Each group identifies a healthy meal or snack, shops for necessities, and engages in the cooking/baking, with support from staff as appropriate for these developing skills.

Current Events Group
Current Events is a group for individuals who are interested in discussing local, national, and global news. Participants begin the group session by sharing any news that they want to discuss, and then the group leaders summarize and lead a discussion on other current events. The group members share their own opinions and thoughts about our current world as well as the Averte community. It is a more relaxed group setting in which the goal is to focus on connecting the members back to the outside community and relate to others on a person-to-person basis.

Journaling Group
Our journaling group was developed at the request of a resident who had an interest in learning how to use journaling as a tool for symptom management. The clinical team at Averte believes strongly in the efficacy of journaling for mental health wellness. Both the Clinical Director and Clinical Program Coordinator have been trained in the Clinical Use of Journaling Techniques in the Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders, facilitated by the Addictions Academy on Co-Occurring Disorders.

In addition to integrating journaling techniques into individual cognitive behavioral therapeutic work, the Journaling Group meets weekly, let by the Clinical Program Coordinator, to identify and apply effective journaling techniques.

Laughing Group
Laughing Group was created to help introduce more positive approaches to managing mental illness for the residents. In more recent years, researchers have been studying the effects and benefits that result from laughter. In addition to numerous physical benefits, laughter helps promote mood, encourages a more optimistic perspective when facing adversity, releases endorphins, and aids in alleviating anxiety, stress, or fear (Smith & Segal, 2013). Another advantage of having a Laughing Group is to facilitate a welcoming and warm environment where residents can come together to socialize in a light-hearted fashion.

Movement Group
This group meets weekly to introduce low-impact aerobic activities, designed to supplement current exercise regimens or introduce members to new types of healthy (and fun) physical activities.

YogaThis group meets weekly to introduce members to basic yoga poses, mostly seated, as well as utilizing stretching and strengthening exercises to promote physical wellness.

Expressive Arts GroupThis structured activity is designed to provide a safe environment for members to express themselves in a wide variety of ways, through art, conversation, movement, and humorous activities. One on the goals of this group is to help members identify healthy and effective ways to understand complex emotions and events, in a supported space.

Art Instruction

As a painting teacher, I feel fortunate to explore visual art with residents at Averte. The experience of making art fulfills the soul, develops confidence, and improves cognitive and motor function, whether it’s with personal imagery, painting from life, or designing an abstract composition. I incorporate color theory and drawing skills whenever there is interest, and always bring art books to keep exciting ideas flowing. High quality yet affordable art supplies enable us to fully enjoy the creative process and feel successful. With a sustained learning relationship and a nurturing atmosphere creativity can flourish for both student and teacher.

Pippa Drew has taught art for over 20 years in various settings, and worked as a case manager at the Clara Martin Community Mental Health Center where she ran both the art and yoga programs for adults. Pippa has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters degree in painting from Dartmouth College. She is a Kripalu certified yoga teacher.

Women’s Groups
This weekly group creates a space for women to join together and discuss a variety of topics, while building friendships and engaging in fun, self-care activities.

Men’s Group
This group focuses on developing confidence, increasing connections, improving peer interactions.

Knitting Group
This weekly group provides members to learn a new hobby or enhance their knitting skills. This group also focuses on community, often using completed projects to donate to local charitable efforts.