Hey Everyone,

So I wrote a super long post about all the things that have been going on in my life and since then things have changed a little bit more. I’m back in IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) which is like group therapy. The actual description they have for it is that it’s a program meant to help keep people from needing to be hospitalized, so it’s like one step away from needing hospitalization. I’ve been here before.

A while ago, maybe a little over a year ago, I went through the IOP program in a neighboring town. It was really good. It was super helpful and I walked away from it feeling a lot better than I had felt when I walked in. I’m not sure if that will be the case this time or not.

IOP consists of 8 sessions, 3 hours each, that take place 4 days a week. So in this case it’s Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. And it lasts about two weeks per person. Everyone starts when they need to, and leaves when their 8 sessions are over. So there’s always new people, and always people graduating.

During the three hours you do a basic check in: state your name, who your case manager is, what group you’d like to be part of that day, and what your goal is for the three hours. You also state at this point if you feel like you need to check in with your case manager or with the doctor.

After the check in the group does a mindfulness exercise/meditation that’s led by one of the case managers.

When the exercise is over you split off into the groups that you chose at the beginning. Usually there are 2 or 3 group choices. Talk: up to 8 people can go in a room with one of the group leaders and discuss whatever it is that you feel you need to talk about. You get advice from other members, get advice from the group leader, and just in general get to talk about whatever you need to talk about, which can be really nice and helpful. Activity: you do some kind of activity which is led by an activity therapist. It can be anything from coloring, to cutting things out of magazines, to playing a game, or watching some kind of inspiration movie. The overall theme is just to get you thinking about new things, or thinking about things in a different way and working on gaining a new coping skill. The third option is only offered sometimes, and it’s called Dual Diagnosis: it’s where you look at addictive behaviors and addictions in relation to depression/anxiety and what brought you to IOP to begin with. It’s an educational group but it’s also a good place to discuss things related to the topic with other people and the group leader. These groups last about an hour.

After group you get a 15 minute break to use the bathroom, have a snack, make a phone call, etc.

After break everyone gets back together in the main room to listen to/learn about a new skill or something, it really depends on what the group leaders have picked for the day to discuss. Sometimes it’s about teaching us a new skill, sometimes it’s about teaching us about symptoms, medications, causes, it really just depends.

After the education group we do our last check in. You basically say the same things as in the beginning except you don’t have to tell what group you chose, and instead you tell whether or not you feel you’ve achieved your goal. Or how well you think you did with your goal. Sometimes they ask an additional question that pertains to the education group, especially before the weekend.

Overall the whole process is pretty painless and can be super helpful. For me the hardest part is that it’s a group thing, so there are other people there that I’m not familiar with and it makes me uncomfortable in the beginning. It was a lot harder the first time around, now that I’ve been through it once this time around hasn’t been so anxiety filled. I was sick the first day though and had to leave early. I’ve been two days so far for this round.

Overall I think IOP is going to be helpful for me. It will give me some extra support and maybe help me learn some skills to help deal with all of the overwhelming emotions I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ll check in again about IOP on Wednesday, or I’ll try to, and let you guys know how it’s going.

See ya later

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