Contributed by Dr. Janice Ryan, OT

What is Allen’s Cognitive Levels?

Allen’s Cognitive Levels was originally designed by a well-known occupational therapist by the name of Claudia Kay Allen. It was designed as a simple way to understand a person’s cognitive level by observing, understanding, and watching for patterns of influence upon their behavior. 

Allen’s Cognitive Levels was developed to help health care professionals provide client-focused services to people with cognitive challenges. Also called the ACL, Allen’s assessment has now been adapted many times for a variety of uses and remains especially popular in long-term cognitive care programs.

Therapists work at Allen Cognitive Level 6.0

ACL 6.0 is the highest level of abstract human reasoning because a person at this cognitive level “considers several hypothetical plans of action and establishes abstract criteria for selecting the best plan.” Master therapists work at this level consistently.

Human Systems Dynamics or HSD Models were developed by Glenda Eoyang to support the capacity of system leaders to consistently use this level of reasoning as they meet organizational challenges. HSD Associates are trained by applying abstract models to develop outstanding leadership skills, make well-designed and ethical action plans, and mindfully consider possible risks to avoid unnecessary mistakes in human systems of all sizes. 

The Mindful Occupational Therapy Approach was developed by applying easy-to-use HSD Models of practice. AAMSE-Certified Practitioners are taught to consistently perform at ACL 6.0 by learning how to apply these easy-to-use HSD Models to reach practice and health care system leadership goals. 

Promoting a client’s highest Allen’s Cognitive Level

By performing consistently at an ACL 6.0, a therapist enhances their client’s capacity to develop their own highest cognitive potential during treatment. By observing and understanding the difference in their client’s ACL patterns within and outside of an MSE, a therapist can give their client an opportunity to generalize cognitive gains in treatment within their natural life environments. 

Principles used by master practitioners to bring out the most in their clients are also used by strong healthcare system managers. Mature practitioners, system managers, and gifted leaders know how to teach others by following the principles of neuroplasticity.

Contributed by Dr. Janice Ryan, OT

  What is Emotional Intelligence?  

  The Mindfulness Revolution 

  Emotional Intelligence and AAMSE  

  Compassion-focused therapy  

  Compassion-focused care   

  Mindful Awareness and the Healing Arts 

What is Emotional Intelligence? . . .

Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ? was published in 1995.  It is considered a paradigm shift in understanding, “what it means to be smart”. 

Emotional Intelligence or EI was defined by Goleman as “self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation, empathy and social deftness”. Based on new behavioral and brain science, much has now been written about ways in which EI can be used to improve human systems of every size including individual and groups of people, health care and educational organizations, and treatment processes.

The Mindfulness Revolution . . .

Daniel J. Siegel, MD is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. He has been a leader in the effort to communicate the importance of EI in books such as The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. 

Siegel wrote The Mindful Therapist to teach other practitioners how to use mindfulness in treatment. He wrote books on brain health and the learning benefits of mindfulness such as Mindsight: Change Your Brain and Your Life and The Whole-Brain Child.

Emotional Intelligence and AAMSE . . .

EI is not only at the center of The Mindful Occupational Therapy Approach taught in all AAMSE-Certified Practitioner Trainings but, it optimizes the effective use of both types of AAMSE-Certified Rooms. The first type of room is used for compassion-focused therapy and the second type of room is used for compassion-focused care. 

Compassion-focused therapy . . .

Learning is enhanced when a person feels safe and supported. The feeling of safety that is achievable within an MSE is central to its treatment benefit. Compassion-focused therapy can be used to optimize the positive feelings that come from success when a client is interacting with either MSE equipment or a person with them in the room.  

During one treatment session, an AAMSE-Certified therapist might promote the feeling of safety in an anxious or depressed client for more self-motivated achievement of a self-care goal. During another treatment session, they might use their MSE to help a client with PTS-triggers develop self-compassion for more emotionally self-regulated relationships.  

Compassion-focused care . . .               

The original use of an MSE in The Netherlands was to add to quality-of-life by providing a leisure interest for people with severe developmental delays. By including an MSE and trained practitioners in schools, special needs service programs, and long-term care communities, a program can expand its compassion-focused care. 

An AAMSE-Certified practitioner who serves as a long-term care community’s activity director, might use their MSE to promote music memories and dance movements in residents with dementia. An AAMSE-Certified practitioner who is a classroom teacher, might use their MSE to give a student on the autism spectrum a safe space to retreat from the influence of their sensory sensitivities. 

Mindful Awareness and the Healing Arts . . .

As the neuroscience of mindfulness continues to support the use of an MSE as an essential tool for compassion-focused therapy and compassion-focused care, AAMSE takes pride in being a long-time leader and advocate of the use of EI to improve human systems of every size including individual and groups of people, health care and educational organizations, and treatment processes.

Contributed by Dr. Janice Ryan, OT

New Hope For Treatment... Mindful therapy in an MSE is a dynamical practice approach that is giving new hope for a variety of clients who are being challenged by adapting to their natural environments.

What is "Dynamical Movement?" Dynamical movement of thought patterns are unpredictable, because they develop as two-way exchanges between a person and their environment.

Follow the Bouncing Ball...If you follow a bouncing ball making its way across an uneven surface, you are observing a dynamical movement pattern. This pattern of movement demonstrates why a child who moves with a disorganized gait while in a busy store, can move in a more coordinated way to music in a multi-sensory environment. 

This also illustrates why a child with autism, who shuts down or has a melt-down in a noisy school hallway, can learn more when they are in a classroom where the teacher knows how to help them relax.

Mindfulness... Mindfulness is a state of present awareness that, when achieved by a therapist, allows for the use of "pattern logic" for predicting positive change potential in dynamical movement, thought, and behavior.

Why a White Canvas is Used... The already open and receptive perceptions of a mindful therapist are provided with a white canvas on which client actions, gesture patterns, and style of communication are enhanced for the observer.

Therapeutic MSEs are always white, because this provides the therapist with greater control over the environment. Mindfulness allows the therapist to create the “just right” environment for observing, understanding, and influencing a client’s dynamical patterns. 

What the Senses Seek... If the client is a sensory seeker, a mindful therapist can see what their behavior patterns ask for and how they can be influenced by the feeling of a specific light-music-touch perception experience. 

If the client is a sensory avoider, their behavior patterns may cue the mindful therapist to provide a very different environment that allows them to relax and then to expand into their full potential.

This is the way a mindful therapist can support a client as they learn and develop a greater adaptive capacity within an MSE, to take back and integrate into their natural life environments.

The Changing Role of a Therapist... Sometimes, a mindful therapist chooses to be part of the environment so that a client’s focus is on their relationship to objects, processes, and solitary experiences. Other times, a mindful therapist chooses to be an integral part of a client’s focus because human relationships are providing them with that “just right” therapeutic goal.

A bouncing ball illustrates the term, dynamical movement. Other examples would be the swinging of a clock pendulum or the rhythmic flow of ocean waves.