What is an INTENSIVE? Is it right for ME?

Written by: Carrie Kyger, LMFT, CSAT-C and Joshua Nichols, LMFT, CSAT

When you think of “counseling,” what comes to mind?  Do you imagine an older man with a white beard jotting down notes with his legs crossed as he puffs on his pipe; all the while you’re lying down on a couch staring at the ceiling recounting troubling tales from your childhood?  Perhaps you picture the counselor as a nurturing figure that leans forward from her chair with her hand placed gently on your knee with an empathetic frown on her face as you, yet again, find yourself unable to hold in your emotions.  Your time is up, so you dry your eyes as she walks you to the door and politely sees you on your way by softly saying, “Same time next week?”  Okay, so I might be getting carried away with the stereotype, but you get the picture, right?  For many people, when they think of counseling, they either picture these types of scenarios or the other extreme – the overly-medicated patient in a hospital gown living in a room with white padded walls. Why is that?

The “traditional” paths of treatment. Traditionally, in mental health care, there have been two main roads for treatment.  The most common is the outpatient “once a week” model where either a couple or individual meet weekly for an hour with their therapist. As the hour comes to a close, the therapist will wrap up the session and plan on resuming the following week.  This pattern can go on for months, and sometimes years, in effort to meet the client’s established goals.  The other path, what we know as “inpatient” or “residential” care, is for a population with mental health concerns that require a much more attentive and structured approach to treatment. Clients in inpatient care often feel out of control and hopeless; therefore they seek round the clock care from a team of medical and mental health professionals.  This brief hospitalization is usually thirty to ninety days at a mental health treatment facility.  It is important to note that both roads of treatment are important and valuable for a variety of people; however, for many people seeking mental or relational health services, feel like they need more than the traditional week-to-week counseling, but aren’t really a good fit for inpatient care.  All to often, they opt for the former over the latter only to find themselves disappointed in the slow moving progress.

What do we do to help these folks?
Is there any types of programs out there for these in-betweeners?”

Filling the GAP: A program for the “in-betweeners.” An intensive outpatient program often takes many forms for a variety of issues.  They can last only a couple days to several weeks.  Regardless of how the long the program is, most intensives utilize a combination of many different treatment approaches, including, but not limited to: group, individual and, if needed, couple’s therapy, as well as, providing information about the relational and mental health problems called psychoeducation.  Some programs will incorporate unique forms of therapy and meditation, such as, yoga, equine therapy, EMDR, etc.  What is unique about an intensive format is not just the combination of the types of information and therapy but also the experience of intensity in addressing the need for change.  In other words, the “in-betweeners” are often looking for something more intense to help give them the momentum they need to move forward with their change and healing journey.

So, how does an intensive accomplish this?

Gaining Momentum. The intensive format helps to quickly eliminate the ambiguity around the problem and the confusion around the question “What am I supposed to do?” by (1) establishing a plan for action, (2) identifying and clarifying healthy supports, and (3) determining a direction for life and relationships by giving change and healing meaning and purpose.

The intense format also helps people feel invested in treatment.  While the cost of an intensive is large presented up front, the reward of the healing experience as a whole is often worth the out-of-pocket expense.  Additionally, “in-betweeners” that opt for the “week-to-week” model of therapy may find themselves spending much more over the course of time, but getting very little in return for their investment.

It’s important to note that Intensives are no “walk in the park.”  People often leave physically tired and emotionally exhausted.  However, with the help of a team of professionals, they also leave with a plan for how to “hit the ground running,” barricading through obstacles, and tackling life is such a way that leaves them feeling satisfied and at peace.   At Family Solutions Counseling, we currently offer 2-3 day intensives (12-18 hours of therapy) designed to help individuals and couples in sex addiction recovery and/or affair recovery.  If you are reading this and you feel like you are an “in-betweener,” we hope you will spend a little more time looking at the intensive programs we have to offer. But, even if you feel like our programs aren’t a good fit for you, we encourage to continue your search.

Don’t let “do nothing” be an option for you!!

Please contact us if you have any questions about our programs or intensives in general.  We wish you all the best as you continue to embark on this crazy adventure we call LIFE!

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