Day Program Updates & Outings

By Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC | September 8, 2019

Week of December 16, 2019

This week we are back to the top of the curriculum with Mindfulness!
We decorated a piece of our space with some thoughtful, positive, grateful, loving kindness words.

We also headed back to Panola Mountain State Park for a morning tree climb, getting some exercise, positives and a brief vacation from the usual routine! We even accumulated some positives singing along to our playlist on the route there 🙂
We finished up the week with “Mindful Show & Tell”; practicing our describe skill to show off our meaningful objects or even a talent! We had a ukulele, flute, marching band, poetry, crystals, etc.

Week of September 23rd, 2019

We went through the Middle Path module, made dream boards in Advanced DBT. Our outing to Montclair assisted living was postponed and instead we played a Mr. Edwin game! (a hopscotch/candyland/rock, paper, scissors blend).

We also saw a new campus cat, that we named Rice

Week of September 16th, 2019

The kids have been working on this for the last week. Come see their amazing creativity!

Week of August 26th, 2019

This was the last week of our summer schedule and we covered the first week of distress tolerance, STOP, distract with ACCEPTS, self soothe and IMPROVE.

The group had ice cream sundaes (thanks to Kimberly Young), made puffy slime, created skills stories and had lots of laughs this week.

Next week we have much more time for school work, a special guest scheduled for Friday and still collecting donations for the pet shelter!!! (Old towels, paper towels, unopened peanut butter, stuffed animals)

You may have seen Katie (Herzer) on crutches this week, she will be on them next week still and we’re hoping the long weekend will help with her recovery. & Kate (O’Lone, aka me) passed the social work licensure exam!

Have a great weekend, see you back here Tuesday!

Week of August 19th, 2019

We had an eventful week, we learned mindfulness module and went to best friends animal shelter where we made treats and pet tons of animals 🙂

We are trying to raise materials to bring to the shelter in mid September. PLEASE HELP US DONATE, paper towels, jars of unopened peanut butter, old towels & blankets. We are holding the donations in the library, and want to collect till our drop off around September 12th.

We made some self soothe bottles with water, clear glue and glitter!

Last but not least, we also had a client make a family portrait (of the all girl group right now) for “describe, show & tell”

Week of August 2nd, 2019

First of all, shout out to everyone who came to temporarily join our team each day this week, we greatly appreciate the help & enthusiasm! We had 1 admission and 4 discharges just this week.

This week we covered emotion regulation & we got to accumulate positives at Candytopia! Perfect timing 😉

A client said her favorite part of the Candytopia outing was “throwing confetti on my family therapist!”

This week we also explored our emotion-meters in advanced DBT, as well as our worry brain vs. happy brain.

Since we have a handful of cat-ladies (and gents) we also made it over to Happy Tabby Cat Café to accumulate positives and/or take a brief vacation.

Week of July 15th, 2019

Hope everyone had a wonderful week!

This week we went through the core module of DBT; mindfulness. We practiced describe skills through a celebrity guessing game and feeling an object in a bag, and playing a group game of taboo.

In advanced DBT we “speed validated” and the group did a great job fully participating. Then on Friday we created personified DBT skills (heroes/characters).

A client discharging this week, who has made tremendous changes in his 6 weeks here, says.. “Hillside can seem hard at first, but in the end you’ll be happy that you’ve been here.”

We are so proud him & the hard work of all the clients; forward is forward no matter how small the steps.

Week of July 8th, 2019

We had a great week!! 2 from Kiwanis joined us, another admission and proudly sent off 2 other clients after they successfully completed the program.

A client who had their first week with us said he enjoys the program, he feels the activities do help with his progress and are not just busy work!!

We went through the Middle Path module. We practiced push away & radical acceptance in the advanced DBT groups; radical acceptance tye dye and self soothe balls & created our own worry monster!

We also did some mindful eating at Jeni’s ice cream at Krog Street Market.

Shout out to Mark Pulliam for keeping us stocked up on liter bottles for our projects!!!

Week of June 24th, 2019

Hello again!

This week we went through the emotion regulation module, the kids did opposite action skits, problem solving of some ridiculous prompts they were given and ended the week climbing in trees! Many were nervous and when it was over, said that it was not scary at all & so fun.

We also we lucky enough to book Ms. Ashlenn to come and lead a mindful painting group!

It was busy and full of activities with 3 admissions joining us & 2 residential step-downs. We are all ending the week on a high note & needing rest to come back next week for more DBT Experience!

Week of June 3rd, 2019

Happy Friday!

This week in Day Program we went through the “Walking the Middle Path” module, And had a great outing with Ms. Barbara to harvest & contribute to the Atlanta Food Bank even with some rainy weather.

The group practiced their validation with “speed validating” and they really impressed us! We also made our own slime for the advanced skill practice of self soothe & spent some time outside to write cheerleading messages to the campus.

Then wrapped up the week making DBT Superheroes!

Keep scrolling for The Validator, DEAR MAN, and TIPP Man…

Lastly, soon we are going to be doing sensory bottles and need your usable plastic bottles, please & thank you.

Have a great weekend and see you next week!

Week of May 6th, 2019

Happy Friday Everyone!

The DBT skill from this week was mindfulness! We went on our mindful eating outing to Jeni’s Ice cream, and enjoyed our time practicing the skill.

Have a great weekend

Week of April 26th, 2019

Happy Friday Everyone!

This week in the Day Program we practiced our contributing skill by recycling! Did you know that it is FREE to recycle common waste such as: plastic, paper, Styrofoam, and waxed cartons? Have a great weekend!

Week of April 5th, 2019

This week we repeated our tree climbing outing! We had lots of fun, and
practiced our intense exercise skill.

Week of March 29th, 2019

Happy Friday Everyone!

The skill learned in DBT today was TIPP!

This afternoon we practiced various aspects of it before heading home for the weekend. We did this chalk obstacle course to practice Intense Exercise. It included sprinting, frog jumps, sit ups, Russian twists, pushups, and more!

Afterwards, we used a video to pace our breathing, and stretched. We finished by practicing temperature change with some ice pops.

It was a fun experience.

Week of March 22nd, 2019

We went to the Zoo this week. While at the zoo we were mindful of our emotions and how we felt observing the animals, and tried to identify why we felt that way.

It was a fun experience.

Week of March 15th, 2019

This week our compassion-based meditation was based on Cultivating Equanimity.

The goal of this practice is that the successful practitioner becomes less prone to excessive emotional reactivity, due to his or her ability to relate to others with equanimity. The absolute categories of friend, enemy, and stranger are dissolved in favor of a broader perspective, in which everyone is viewed equally and impartially as desiring happiness and freedom from suffering.

We also went on an outing with Ms. Barbara from Horticulture to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Week of March 1st, 2019:

On Wednesday, we went to the King Center in honor of black history month.

Week of February 15th, 2019:

Today, Mr. David Shadle joined us for our morning meditation as pictured below! Such a great way to start your day.

Following our awesome outing to see the monks create sand mandalas at Emory, we decided to come create our own mandala outside the dining hall. We all contributed to its beautiful creation.

Monks work diligently for days to create them, just to wipe it away after they finish. This is to symbolize that nothing is permanent. And the positive energy that was put into its creation is released into the surrounding area.

We had our own ritual outside the dining hall where we washed away our hard work and released positive energy into the area around it.

We also left some encouraging statements after we learned about the IMPROVE skill.

And finally this afternoon we began working on our DBT based board games. We didn’t quite finish… so be on the lookout for the finished products soon!

Week of Wednesday, February 13th, 2019:

Today, the day programmers were able to go to Emory to tour some of their mandalas and also had the opportunity to create some of their own mandalas, while there.

To further build on some mindfulness skills, they were able to create their own sand art back here on campus. They really enjoyed. Pictures are below!

Week of February 11th, 2019:

Good Morning Hillside!!!

On Friday the Day Program went to Happy Tabby Cat Café!!!

What is a cat café you might be wondering?
It is a cute and cozy café that serves mostly coffee
(and can be a little more adult friendly like this one)
They let you hang out with the cats to pet and play with them.
(Hello dbt skills: self-soothe and accumulating positives!!)
All of the cats in the cat café are also up for adoption, which makes it so much more awesome.

Here are some pictures below from our adventure:

They also sell these Hoodies that have a pocket for you to put a cat in!

This cool graph lets you know each cat’s personality, and how well they do in different households.

Week of February 1st, 2019:

Radical Acceptance Jenga

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Today in the Day Program we showed off our knowledge of the various skills by playing DBT jeopardy

Then we had a blast by practicing Mindfulness
(which was the module we focused on this week)

We were given a giant die to roll for the game to play, and then we rolled it again for the amount of minutes we spent playing those games. Here are a few action shots below

(the left is group juggle and the right is clap ball)

Week of January 18th, 2019:

We would like to share two activities we did in the Day Program today!

First off is radical acceptance jenga!

The kiddos were explained before the game started that the blocks had something either a task or a question written on them. They knew they were expected to follow these directions or to pull another block! (Suggestion: play with a smaller group) 

Radical Acceptance Jenga

Next we had an AWESOME DBT Obstacle course!

They were split into two teams and raced against each other. At each station they had to work together to answer a question about DBT and then complete the task before they could move on.

Some of the obstacles seen below include: having to pull ALL of the tissues out of the box, one at a time, with one hand; figuring out a riddle on how to stack pennies with one hand; crawling across a chair with a bowl of water on their head; throwing ping-pong balls into a bucket; figuring out a maze of arrows, and the final TIPP challenge.

Week of November 9th, 2018:

Check out our outing this week in the Day Program!

We took a ride down to Krog Street Market to this wonderful ice cream shop called Jeni’s Ice Creams. After we all picked out our flavors we practiced mindful eating!

We were read a prompt that had us pay attention to the flavor and sensation of ice cream in our mouths. It was such a cool experience!

Here are some things the kids reported about it afterwards:

“I thought it was a unique way to eat ice cream”

“I thought it was a good exercise in patience”

“It was a fun experience, and everyone as a group got to experience something different yet similar at the same time.”

We challenge you to try eating your next treat mindfully and see what you experience!

Week of October 1st, 2018:

Check out some things we did this week in the Day Program!

We started out practicing our contributing skill by making inspiration bookmarks for the Evans and Averill cottages!
(Cut short and removable strings of course)

We also made catapults with popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and spoons. We worked hard to problem solve & build mastery with this to find what designs worked best.

We had a BLAST on our outing to go tree climbing!

Later in the day we kept up with healthy living and had a group on the benefits of eating healthy and practiced it by making some fruit parfaits.

We worked on our communication skills to guide our peers through a maze with a blindfold on…

We attempted an outing to the beltline and had to use radical acceptance when we found the entrance was blocked off. So we explored old fourth ward park and placed kindness stones around for other people to find and enjoy.

We ended our week with a mindfulness group that is led by the clients. Everyone was given a random shape and had to come up with a design that incorporates it…

We had a fun and busy first week in the Day Program! Check out some of the things we did…

Some of our kids recreated what they think about when they take a brief vacation…

We discussed identifying different emotions and created collages with pictures that we found to represent each emotion…

In Advanced Experiential DBT with Mr. Rajeive and Ms. Elizabeth, we made puffy paint and then painted a representation of our life worth living goals.

(A Horse because she wants to be a Vet, a Brain because he wants to be a Psychologist, various makeup products because she wants to be a Make-Up Artist)

We went on our first outing to see Aladdin at the Fox Theater!

In one of our DBT groups you can see us working together and using our senses in these guessing game stations.

Station 1: Guess the item you touch in the balloon Station 2: Memorize the object you see on the table

We finished our week doing mindfulness walks through the sunken garden and vegetable garden at the top of the hill. You can see us observing our surroundings

Stay tuned for more exciting activities next week!


  • Hillside Clinical Education & Referral Relations Manager - Gaan has been working with children, adolescents, and families for over 10 years in various settings. In her current role, she provides education and training for mental health professionals, parents, and the community. She lives in Atlanta with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, climbing, and cooking. She is a donut aficionado and a national park enthusiast!

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