1. We take play and relationships very seriously.
When I visit a client’s home, I get to play with the child, connect with the parent, and support the paraprofessionals (developmental specialists) by creating meaningful connections through play. I believe we are making a difference with the children and families we support through our evidence-based approach that focuses on how autism feels, instead of how it appears.
At Positive Development, we follow a Developmental Relationship-Based Intervention (DRBI) model. When you join our team, clinicians and developmental autism specialists receive paid training/certification in this developmental intervention. Supported by research, these trainings provided me with valuable insight into human development through cultivating relationships and creating playful, joyful experiences. This approach helps children and adolescents on the spectrum expand developmental capacities while supporting parents in understanding the why beyond their child’s behaviors.
Lastly, the DRBI approach emphasizes helping parents find joy with their child. We do this by meeting them where they are, joining their world, and seeing their behaviors as communication. We focus on building safe and trusting relationships with our clients and families while working as a team.
2. We use a transdisciplinary approach.
What does that even mean you might ask? Well, it means that we (the therapists) come from a variety of different educational backgrounds, but we are all using the Developmental Relationship-Based Intervention model.
As a dance/movement therapist and previous early childhood educator, I am fortunate to collaborate with and learn from our incredible speech pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers, art therapists, educators, and professional counselors. We all use our own disciplines that serve as the lens for implementing the DRBI model. It’s truly a gift to learn from each other while having fun and utilizing a common approach.
3. We love creative arts therapy.
I get to support kids in expressing themselves through the arts and play! Multiple people at Positive Development are creative arts therapists (including myself),and I am so grateful that not only is what I do appreciated, it’s also valued.
I created Mindful Movement, a virtual event where I share and guide staff every Friday in dancing, meditating, and connecting with each other. This is also a great way to share what I do as a dance/movement therapist: staff members enjoy the calming time to themselves while learning strategies to use movement and mindfulness in their work with their clients. I hope someday we will be able to offer creative arts therapy as a mental health therapy service to our clients and families!
4. Joy is a core value.
As a team, we work diligently to build connections and empower positive outcomes through our five key values: Authenticity, Respect, Joy, Team-first, and Growth-mindedness. We have quarterly meetings where we nominate our teammates for exemplifying our core values — The Positive Way Awards. I am particularly grateful for Joy making the list! Not every day is positive and perfect, but what resonates with me is how we help parents think about the moments that they share joy with their child.
5. Professional and personal growth is abundant.
Positive Development offers multiple types of learning opportunities for both individual and career enhancement, including lunch-and-learns and paid trainings. Reflective supervision is something that is extremely helpful in our model of care, and to be surrounded by such highly knowledgeable and experienced clinicians feels like I won the lottery. We are always striving to improve ourselves as a whole and in the day-to-day moments with the importance of reflecting, collaborating, and growing.
6. We celebrate inclusivity and authenticity.
I don’t have to hide who I am at Positive Development. I get to be completely myself: the weird, sensitive, creative, dancing, witchy self. My neurodivergences are embraced and validated. I get to show up every day exactly as I am and share my passion for this developmental approach with others who are similar yet different from me.
Inclusivity through play and respect are very important as part of our model of care. However, approaching our work in the Positive Way does not mean we say yes to everything. It means we’re saying yes to who the child is, yes to ourselves, and no only to things that are unsafe. We follow their lead while also helping them understand expectations and boundaries.
7. Self-care is encouraged.
The expression self-care may be trendy these days, yet at Positive Development, we really strive to walk the talk. A core concept that we work on with our clients is to help them to understand emotional regulation. We also work on ourselves and help our teammates to recognize the importance of self-compassion and self-care to avoid burnout.
For example, last month I learned the dolphin breath in one of our reflective supervision groups, which I then shared with a parent. We also ask our potential employees during the interview process about their self-care routine because we understand the challenges that may come with our line of work.
Additionally, in our staff meetings, supervision groups, and Mindful Movement sessions, we move and stretch and even have dance parties where we talk about the importance of self-care. The more we incorporate self-care strategies, the more we can bring that sense of calm and emotional regulation to those we work with. This may look like taking a moment to breathe intentionally, taking a short walk, or watching a favorite Netflix show. Whatever it is that works for you, we encourage it! By filling up our own cups, we are better able to be there for those we work with. I am so glad that I can talk about this at my job and that it’s encouraged!
8. We embody a supportive culture.
Positive Development incorporates all the things I am passionate about: teaching, learning, playing, connecting, creating, and sharing the wisdom of dance movement therapy and mindfulness. If I ever feel overwhelmed or stuck, I know that I can always ask for help and I will be heard.
I have had my own personal and difficult moments this past year, and every single time, I have been shown sincere support by my clinical supervisors, co-workers, and other Positive Development connections. All these moments have added up, and it inspires me to be there for others. Thank you for supporting me!
9. A work-life balance is nurtured.
Since the pandemic, I felt worried to go back to a school environment. I was craving a setting where I could work with children in a center/facility but still have the flexibility to work from home when needed. Positive Development is exactly that.
My dad lives in Florida, and I was able to visit him and the incredible Florida team! I spent time with my fellow co-workers whom I’ve never met in person but have been working together for over a year. They’ve become more than just friends, they’re family. I never expected to meet and make best friends after moving here from my hometown in California.
10. People come for the cause and stay for the community.
Being a part of Positive Development is not only exciting and invigorating, but it truly is a big family. We’re there for birthdays, baby showers, engagements, losses, and more. We care about each other and the families that we work with from the bottom of our hearts. I can’t wait to continue to get to know the rest of our growing Positive Development family and see how we continue to support and help families all over the country together!
By Rachael Singer
BoardCertified Dance/Movement Therapist