Residential Treatment

Residential Treatment:

Rogers is a comprehensive psychiatric hospital, nationally recognized for specialty residential treatment programs for eating disorders, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders for children, teens and adults.

Life. Worth. Living.

February 26, 2016 - 11:53am

This Eating Disorders Awareness Week, countless people from around the country will share their stories of recovery to reduce mental health stigma, encourage others to get a screening, raise awareness and even help in their own healing process. Since anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia, and other eating disorders affect all ages, genders and races, you might already expect that each person’s eating disorder journey is as unique as they are. But you may not expect the complete mind, body and soul transformation that each person undergoes on their path to wellness. 

Mari’s Story

For college students who are balancing school, athletics, work and family responsibilities, life can be challenging enough. But for Mari, her obsessive dieting and exercise routines put a strain on her body and mind that was greater than any final exam or conference championship could ever have done.

As an eager college freshman, Mari began taking courses at the University of Wisconsin–Stout in September 2013, hoping to one day earn her degree in dietetics. She always had a passion for living a healthy and active lifestyle, so it was no surprise when Mari made the university’s tennis team as well. With so much going for her, Mari had only a promising future ahead, but then things got more complicated during Mari’s first winter break at home. 

“I noticed that I had gained a few pounds, only a few, and I felt something switch inside of me,” says Mari. “I started to feel really insecure about myself and I felt myself becoming more conscientious and aware of my weight.” Like many young adults who gain a little weight their freshman year, Mari thought it was something that could easily be solved by dieting and maintaining an active routine. But as a year passed and her disordered eating progressed, Mari’s family began to notice how dangerously thin she’d become. 

“My family had expressed concern for my health, but it wasn’t until I had two menstrual periods in one month that I realized my body wasn’t well internally—so then I decided to visit my school’s clinic,” says Mari. “The doctor who I was scheduled with had done my physical exam for the tennis team the year before. When she saw me, she immediately knew that something was wrong and ran an EKG and other tests.”

After realizing the severity of Mari’s symptoms, as well as her progressing heart failure, Mari’s physician suggested that she seek professional treatment. Mari says it wasn’t until she received a feeding tube in Rogers Memorial Hospital’s inpatient program in Oconomowoc, WI, that she realized anorexia nervosa had taken over her behaviors. 

Emily’s story

Not all people immediately realize the severity of their eating disorder when they first begin treatment. That was the case for Emily, another young college student.

“I began seeing a psychiatrist my junior year of high school for my anorexia, which had begun to develop when I was ten years old,” says Emily. “I also received treatment in an inpatient program, but I put a lot of effort into convincing my family and my doctor that I had been restricting my diet for attention—that I didn’t really have an eating disorder. I became very good at tricking myself and others, but in reality my life revolved around the personal list I had made on ‘How to Be Perfect.’”

When Rogers began offering eating disorder services close to Emily’s home in Tampa, FL, her psychiatrist suggested that she try the more intensive treatment available at Rogers Behavioral Health. Emily agreed, “I decided that this would be my ‘practice run’ for taking treatment seriously.”

After taking a semester off of school and work, Emily was ready to fully commit to her wellness. When Emily met her treatment team in Tampa’s partial hospital program, she realized that she could no longer remain emotionally disengaged. “Right away, my team knew that I needed help creating an emotional baseline and they developed an ‘emotion wheel’ that I still use today to help express what I’m feeling,” she says. 

While in treatment, Emily found great help from her group therapy sessions, her faith, and her family. “Even now, when I sit at the dinner table and feel myself struggling with a certain food, my little brother looks up at me with the biggest smile because he knows when I need the extra reassurance,” says Emily. “And that’s enough to help me stay on track.” 

Denise’s story

Not all people with eating disorders like Emily and Mari are college-aged, female, or even have the support that comes with living with parents and siblings. Rogers is known for its treatment of males with eating disorders, and Denise represents the less stereotypical older woman with these challenges.

At the time, Denise was a mother in her mid-twenties when she had a conversation with a friend about purging and decided that it might be a good way to get back to her pre-baby weight. “I had four kids and I hadn’t gotten any results from dieting,” she says. “What started out as my method for weight loss eventually turned into a pattern of binging and purging up to 20 times a day, for 15 years.”

In Denise’s early forties, she developed depression after experiencing an “empty nest,” which caused her to lose her appetite. With no desire to eat, Denise’s bulimia was replaced with anorexia nervosa. Still believing that she didn’t have an eating disorder, Denise lost consciousness while driving her daughter. Her daughter then grabbed the wheel and steered them both to safety from the passenger seat. 

“It wasn’t until I began receiving residential treatment at the Eating Disorder Center that I began to acknowledge that I had an eating disorder,” she says. “While receiving treatment and doing a lot of personal discovery, I found out a lot of the reasons of why I had an eating disorder. I always say that my birth certificate says ‘Rogers’ on it.”

Moving forward

Denise says she learned a lot from both younger patients like Mari and Emily, as well as middle-aged patients like herself. “I also found that the art therapy I received brought out feelings in me that I didn’t realize I had,” she says. “At first, the thought of creating art was scary, but I found out that I’m actually pretty creative. Today I create mosaics, I’ve illustrated a children’s book and I’ve even written my own book.”

Emily has found that she continues to make progress in her recovery by sharing her story and donating her time to others. “It’s so rewarding for me to volunteer in the Tampa community and right now I’m a mentor at a girl’s juvenile facility,” she says. “People who have really changed my life were complete strangers to me and I want to continue sharing my faith and my experience with others.”

Mari has also emerged from her treatment transformed with a newfound career choice and personal cause. “Because of the treatment I received at Rogers, I’ve changed my major from dietetics to psychology,” she says. “My family and I can’t believe how far I’ve come and I’m just so passionate about eating disorder treatment that I want to be dedicated to this my entire life. I know I’ve already touched lives and I just want to continue to give hope to other people.”

 

February 23, 2016 - 12:14pm

National Eating Disorders Awareness WeekFebruary 21 through 29 is Eating Disorders Awareness Week, an observance organized by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). This year’s theme: “3 Minutes Can Save a Life: Get Screened. Get Help. Get Healthy.” promotes early intervention and education about the causes, dangers and treatments for eating disorders. Brad E.R. Smith, MD, medical director of eating disorder services at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc, explains that this national observance is a great opportunity to seek out available programming options.

Whether you realize it or not, it is very likely that you or someone you know is affected by an eating disorder. “Up to 30 million men, women and children in the United States suffer from anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia, or other eating disorder,” he says. “People with eating disorders also have a higher mortality rate than those with any other mental illness.” So what are some of the factors that make this such a dangerous disease?

“One of the biggest challenges we face is that people who have eating disorders may not recognize that they are ill and so they may be resistant to accept treatment,” says Dr. Smith. “People with eating disorders have a tendency to minimize, rationalize, or hide their eating disorder symptoms and behaviors. They might also seek out a variety of specialists and interventions that address the serious medical consequences of their behavior without tackling their underlying problem—because in all cases, it is never just about the food.”

Rogers Memorial Hospital offers multiple levels of care for eating disorder treatment, including inpatient, residential, partial and intensive outpatient programs. “A number of effective treatments for eating disorders exist for children, teens and adults,” he says. ”This includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy that addresses an individual's thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to make changes.” 

Even with the right treatment approach and a multidisciplinary team, achieving lasting recovery still takes time. 

“Recovery doesn’t happen overnight because we are interrupting harmful eating behaviors that have become deeply engrained and almost unconscious for many,” says Dr. Smith. “Treatment helps people with eating disorders to change what they do, normalize their eating habits and reframe the irrational thoughts that sustained their disordered eating behaviors.”

Call 800-767-4411 to schedule a free screening today. 

February 19, 2016 - 11:21am

FOCUS adolescent mood disorders programImagine a 16-year-old girl sitting in her room, overwhelmed by her own emotions. She was once outgoing and involved in high school sports and clubs, but now she finds herself wanting to just be alone. She carries around thoughts in her head that confuse and exhaust her, feeling like she can’t connect with her family or friends. 

This is just one example of the type of situation a teenager may be in that Rogers can help with its new FOCUS Adolescent Mood Disorders Program planned for opening in March. This program offers comprehensive residential treatment for adolescents age 13 to 17 struggling with primary mood disorders, bipolar disorder, depression and co-occurring disorders. The program becomes Rogers’ eighth residential treatment program on the campus of Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc.

Peggy Scallon, MD, who joined Rogers in February, will serve as medical director. She has spent much of her 20 years in psychiatry treating children and adolescents. “I love to work with children and teens because they are so honest and engaging. They have their whole lives ahead of them, so the positive impact of effective treatment will be with them for decades,” says Dr. Scallon. “I am so excited about the new FOCUS Adolescent Mood Disorders unit because I want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients and their families. We have an enthusiastic team and we will transmit our passion for working with youth into change for the better.”

This new program will complement Rogers’ existing treatment specialties. “The FOCUS Adolescent Program will expand Rogers’ current programming for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders, to address youth with depressive disorders,” says Dr. Scallon. “We recognize that adolescents with depressive disorders may have a complicated mental health situation that can also include trauma, family difficulties and experimentation with substances. This program will be able to address the multiple factors that may be contributing to a teen’s mental health difficulty.”

“This FOCUS program is different from Rogers’ other adolescent residential programs because it provides treatment to teens who are experiencing more severe symptoms than we’d normally serve in our other programs,” says Eddie Tomaich, PhD, manager of the FOCUS adolescent program. “Staff in this program will be cross-trained to handle more complex cases, such as teens that may have anxiety coupled with severe depression.”

Treatment involves evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and is supported by behavioral activation, mindfulness skills and strong family involvement. “We’ve found that when patients practice behavioral activation, or gradually reboot their activity levels, such as through exercise or public outings, they become less likely to isolate themselves and experience a decrease in their depressive symptoms,” says Dr. Tomaich. Through this program, our patients’ families have access to Parent University, a program that educates families and prepares them with skills to help their child make a more successful transition from our care to home life.

Dr. Scallon explains the goal of the FOCUS adolescent program is to teach teens techniques they can use to better cope with life’s challenges. “In the program, we will use individual, group and family therapy strategies that build upon existing strengths and teach new skills,” she says. “Our emphasis upon psychotherapy will empower our residents to leave the program, and return to their lives healthier and happier.”

February 3, 2016 - 10:52am

Bradley Riemann, PhDAn article published by National Public Radio (NPR) discusses a study based in the United Kingdom that researched two online programs that were created to treat depression. The results showed that the programs were ineffective, mostly because the patients weren’t likely to keep up with the program or remain engaged. The article goes on to suggest that face-to-face, traditional psychotherapy should be the method of choice for consumers. At the same time, other recent blogs and articles claim that online therapy is becoming more desirable among patients. So what should you believe? Bradley Riemann, PhD, clinical director of the OCD Center and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) services at Rogers Memorial Hospital—Oconomowoc, explains how there are two sides to every coin.

“The biggest issue that people have to be aware of is that you can’t generalize all computer programs, applications and other software into one pile. Just because these particular programs were found to be unsuccessful, doesn’t mean others wouldn’t be,” says Dr. Riemann. “The first thing you have to sort out is whether there is any data supporting the application you’re interested in. When we go to a doctor and ask for an antidepressant, we’re going to get a medication that has been thoroughly studied and found to be helpful for most people. But when purchasing an application or online therapy, that luxury is not automatically given to us and we have to be proactive and savvy consumers.”

Besides researching the program, Dr. Riemann recommends that consumers:

  • Explore the computer program’s website
  • Look for published outcomes, journals or articles on their website
  • Stay away from programs that use unclear language to describe their outcomes
  • Remember that if a group says their product is tested, it doesn’t mean their outcomes were positive in that test

Dr. Riemann explains that if the researchers from the U.K. would have changed certain variables in their study, they may have found different results, possibly showing that the programs could be successful under different circumstances. “If the researchers had gotten their subjects from a psychological clinic, versus a primary care clinic, those seeking that type of treatment might be more likely to do the computer-based treatment and you might find very different outcomes. The programs might not have worked in this design, but they might work in a different design.”

Some claim that online therapies will cause patients, especially those suffering from depression, to isolate themselves even more than their condition causes them to—but Dr. Riemann presents an alternate possibility. “If a person is depressed and isolating themselves as a result of that depression, they may not be able to go out and seek ongoing counseling or even leave their house. Classic, traditional forms of psychotherapy or even going to a psychiatrist’s office for medications may be very difficult if not impossible,” says Dr. Riemann. “But, if a program works, it’s going to lower their depression enough to allow them to leave their house and seek further treatment.”

Although online therapy could be a useful tool, Dr. Riemann explains there is natural healing aspect to social interaction. “Human interaction is helpful for more than just treating depression, it’s helpful for any psychiatric condition because we’re social beings by nature. Social support, whether it be friends, family or licensed clinicians, helps us to cope with our problems and buffers us from the stressors of the day,” he says.

However, our current technology has begun to blur the lines of what is considered human interaction. “Telepsychiatry, a therapy method which allows a patient to talk with their doctor on a television or computer screen, who could be thousands of miles away in theory, has been found to be quite helpful for patients,” says Dr. Riemann. “I’m not recommending telepsychiatry be used as a replacement for traditional therapy, but there are some people who can’t access face-to-face therapy because they don’t live near therapists, costs are too high or their condition doesn’t allow them to leave the house.”

He goes on to explain that increasing access to therapy, no matter the mode, may be helpful for many. “The fact of the matter is: the vast majority of people have access to computers, smartphones and tablets, but some people don’t have access to well-trained clinicians and psychiatrists. As a result, anything we can do to increase access to treatment is a positive thing, as long as that treatment has been found to work.”

January 18, 2016 - 9:41am

An article published by New York University discusses recent research that found an increase in the number of American high school seniors who abuse prescription opioids, or drugs that your doctor may prescribe to relieve pain. The study also found that for many of those students, their prescription drug abuse put them at increased risk of transitioning to heroin. The article explains that teens may begin using prescription opioids because they are relatively easy to access at home. Despite this study’s findings, Ian Powell, MD, addiction specialist, says that Rogers Memorial Hospital–West Allis is not currently experiencing this significant increase in adolescent opioid addiction.

“As is often the case, by the time a study’s research is published, that data is usually about two years old already,” says Dr. Powell. “We are not currently seeing a large population of young patients in our withdrawal management program and intensive outpatient program that started out using prescription opioids,” says Dr. Powell. “Instead, we have seen a population of adolescents that have transitioned straight to heroin. In many ways the problem is already here, but we aren’t seeing the specific pattern that the article suggests for a number of reasons.”

Dr. Powell explains that the number of doctors and dentists who are educated about prescription drug abuse is growing, as is the available technology to help decrease drug abuse. “The Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, for example, is a tool that practitioners in Wisconsin can use to monitor the drugs their patients are receiving from other doctors,” says Dr. Powell. “It makes it easier for practitioners to share information across the state and will help reduce the current 30 to 40 percent of adults and teens in Wisconsin who use prescription opioids and transition to heroin.”

So what can parents do to help prevent this problem? “You should make it a habit to throw out your or your child’s pain prescriptions when the injury has healed,” says Dr. Powell. “Saving your medications because you think you might need them later only increases the risk that you or someone else in your household may abuse the prescription.”

Dr. Powell also offers advice from the provider’s perspective. “Our primary goal, as physicians, is to relieve our patients’ pain—whether it be physical, mental or emotional,” he says. “But we do have to be aware of these dangers and take the appropriate actions to reduce widespread addiction.”

People seeking addiction services may not always suffer from addiction alone. Sometimes, a person with a metal illness uses drugs or alcohol to cope with their mental illness and develop an addiction—this is called dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Amy Kuechler, PhD, attending psychologist at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Brown Deer, explains that although there is no single reason why a person develops co-occurring disorders, those with mental illness are more susceptible to developing a substance use disorder. “One reason for the increased risk is because substances may be used as a way to cope or attempt to manage the symptoms of the mental illness,” she says.

At Rogers’ Brown Deer campus, the most common drugs used among the adolescent patients with a dual diagnosis are synthetic marijuana and cough medicine because they are fairly easy to obtain. “In our treatment center, we have treated limited cases of heroin use, because many of our patients were still abusing opiate pain medication when they reached out for treatment and had not progressed to heroin,” says Dr. Kuechler. “But, that doesn’t mean other treatment centers aren’t experiencing an increase.”

When someone has a dual diagnosis, it’s important that their conditions are treated at the same time, such as Rogers does. “One of the main reasons we treat both substance use disorders and mood disorders concurrently is because they really are contributing factors to one another, so to only treat one disorder could result in an increase of symptoms for the other disorder,” says Dr. Kuechler. 

“Rogers Memorial Hospital–Brown Deer offers one of the only dual diagnosis partial hospitalization programs for adolescents available in southeastern Wisconsin, as well as an intensive outpatient program for dual diagnosis,” she says. “In addition to helping patients, these programs emphasize family support and education for their child’s treatment, because dual diagnosis is not only a patient concern—it is a family system issue.”

January 14, 2016 - 12:37pm

Eric Storch, PhDThis fall, Eric Storch, PhD, clinical director at Rogers Behavioral Health–Tampa Bay, along with other clinical and medical practitioners from Rogers, participated in the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies’ (ABCT) 49th Annual Convention. Among the variety of symposiums, presentations and displays he attended, two symposiums in particular shared a message Dr. Storch feels very passionate about: that exposure therapy (ERP) is the best practice for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety.

ERP, a therapy technique that gradually exposes a patient to feared thoughts, images or impulses, has been shown to reduce anxiety and distress over time. At Rogers, ERP has been used as an active component of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and our treatment outcomes have shown this method is effective for treating OCD and anxiety. Though some OCD and anxiety treatment providers use CBT without the ERP component, Rogers continues to use ERP as a part of CBT because of the method’s proven effectiveness. 

Sessions on “New Measurement Targets and Tools in Pediatric Anxiety and OCD” and “Improving CBT for Childhood Anxiety Disorders Through a Focus on Mechanisms of Change” discussed the importance of exposure and response prevention as a core component of treatment for OCD and anxiety. 

“It’s great that professionals in our field are always trying to find new techniques to achieve better results, but the current research in the field shows that exposure therapy is still the tried-and-true evidence-based approach and should continue to be the foundation of treatment,” says Dr. Storch.

“These are not easy cases. Sometimes providers use a ‘kitchen sink method’ and hope that one of the many techniques used will help their patient,” says Dr. Storch, “But it’s important that we continue to focus on what works best in the case of OCD and anxiety—that’s exposure therapy.”

Presenters at these symposiums also discussed techniques for tailoring treatment to each patient’s needs. “It’s important that behavioral health professionals learn how to adapt their treatment to the diverse group of patients they’re going to treat over their careers,” says Dr. Storch. “It isn’t effective to use a one-size-fits-all approach to OCD and anxiety treatment and that’s why we offer each patient an individualized treatment plan at Rogers.”

Dr. Storch also explains that national conventions, like ABCT, are a valuable opportunity for professionals to share knowledge with each other and add to the field’s development. “The conference is important because it disseminates information and makes the research and discussions more accessible to a greater number of people,” he says. “It helps build professional relationships and collaborations to further facilitate progress in behavioral healthcare treatment.”

January 8, 2016 - 12:34pm

When most people think of seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist, they picture talking face-to-face with someone. That is getting harder with a national shortage of psychiatrists. However, more providers of behavioral health—and their patients—are turning to and accepting an alternative: telepsychiatry.  

Rogers Behavioral Health is among those finding two-way video can work. And some patients even prefer it. 

Telepsychiatry, or telemedicine, allows patients to receive treatment from their psychiatrist through a video conference program, similar to Skype or FaceTime, but with heightened security. Under the supervision of nursing staff, patients use the program at Rogers’ campuses to speak with a psychiatrist, who could be hundreds of miles away.

“Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a community that has a psychiatry shortage that is more significant than the national average,” says Debbie Minsky-Kelly, director of partial hospital operations at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Kenosha. Minsky-Kelly and the rest of the Kenosha team have led the way for Rogers in improving access by using telepsychiatry beginning about 18 months ago. 

“Before we had telepsychiatry, our patients’ face-to-face therapy time was limited because our psychiatrists had to travel to see patients and sometimes harsh weather conditions made traveling dangerous,” says Minsky-Kelly. “The technology has made our psychiatrists more readily available to provide care, including in emergency situations, which has helped to increase our patient safety.”

At the Kenosha clinic, two physicians are exclusively using telespychiatry to treat patients, but all members of Kenosha’s medical staff are being trained to use the technology. “After our staff quickly became comfortable working with the system, it was easy to see the value of this resource and the full potential it could have,” says Minsky-Kelly. “Without this program and our clinic’s teamwork, we would not have been able to increase our services and recruit some of the best physicians available both on-site and off.”

In addition to the staff, patients and their families have also been highly satisfied with the technology. “We’ve found that many of our patients actually prefer using telepsychiatry over face-to-face psychiatry,” says Susan Johnson, a registered nurse at Rogers–Kenosha. “Sometimes, when patients have never received behavioral health treatment before, the thought of being in a room with a psychiatrist can be a little intimidating. Some patients are more comfortable speaking with their psychiatrist through technology instead of face-to-face interaction, which can be a big leap for many who have trouble working up the courage to seek help.”

Children as young as six years old to patients that are well into adulthood have been using the system. “If a patient is nervous about using telepsychiatry for the first time or is fairly young in age, our nursing staff is happy to hold a practice session for a patient to help familiarize them with the routine,” says Johnson.

Like all technology, there can sometimes be minor glitches or setbacks to the system. “We have experienced the occasional internet connection failure, but we’ve worked hard to prevent those issues and are sharing our knowledge throughout Rogers’ system,” says Minsky-Kelly. “Any minor issues we encounter are similar to the hiccups we face in face-to-face therapy, but the benefits to using telepsychiatry and the increased time patients have with their psychiatrists have far outweighed our little bumps along the way.”

When using a video program, a doctor may not be able to gather the same information about a patient that he or she would normally be able to in a face-to-face session, such as the presence of alcohol on a patient’s breath. “The registered nurses assess patients prior to every telemedicine session and pass along any important health information that the doctor may not have been able to gather from their computer screen,” says Johnson. “The nurses help to pick up where the technology may fall short and together we create a more comprehensive approach.” Strong patient satisfaction scores support expanded use of telemedicine when needed and appropriate, Minsky-Kelly says. 

Rogers currently has 13 psychiatrists certified for telemedicine across our system, with plans to add more. Various intensive outpatient and partial hospital programs use telepsychciatry at Rogers’ Wisconsin-based locations. Our regional locations in Chicago, Nashville and Tampa Bay also regularly use the technology in their outpatient programs as well.

January 4, 2016 - 8:23am

Statistics show that this time of the year, 45 percent of us are going to make a New Year’s resolution, but of that percentage, only 26 percent will maintain our resolution past the first six months. It seems as though the odds are stacked against most of us when it comes to changing our ways and making major life changes, but Sue McKenzie, co-director of Rogers InHealth, insists that achieving lasting change is possible not only for New Year’s resolutions, but for achieving mental health as well. 

“We have to spend some time honoring our good reasons for our bad habits, which may sound a little peculiar, but what happens if we don’t do that is we can fall back into our old tendencies. We can make a change and maintain it for a short time, but the minute we have a problem with that change, we are going to go back to our bad habits,” says McKenzie.

If we do take the time to make these acknowledgements, the effects can be life-changing. McKenzie says, “When we do acknowledge our good reasons for our bad habits, we can gradually begin to move into making the change we want to make and get serious about how we’re going to maintain that change over a lifetime.”

The hardest part may be deciding to seek treatment and end our unhealthy habits which may stem from an eating disorder, addiction or other mental health concern. “Most of us are either on the fence about a change or are working hard to maintain it,” says McKenzie.

So what can we do to help ensure that our changes will last? “There’s two things to remember that we can all do in our lives,” McKenzie says, “Have people that you trust and respect that you can check in with every once in a while. Typically, someone who knows and loves you can see that something problematic is going on before you even do. The person you check-in with could offer a simple adjustment that allows you to have a better quality of life.”

The second tip McKenzie has is: “If you’re the person that sees a harmful tendency in someone that you love and trust, be a gentle, nonjudgmental mirror. Meaning, have a conversation with that person and try saying, ‘I’ve noticed things are different for you lately and I want you to have more joy in your life, can we talk about it?’”

The team at Rogers has seen the benefits of family members helping a patient identify an issue, McKenzie says. 

“We know that a family’s unconditional support and willingness to talk about a problem can be a key part of making the decision to seek professional help. Families can also provide a source of hope and a unique perspective on their loved one’s life, knowing that their life could be a lot better.”  

December 18, 2015 - 7:31am

Every year, we are faced with the challenge of maintaining our traditional holiday routine, while also taking on new activities. As our to-do list piles up, it can take a toll on our mental health. The unrealistic expectations of what our holiday is “supposed” to be like, including how we are “supposed” to feel can sometimes be too much to handle. “We look at the holiday season with the expectation that we’re going to be filled with a lot of joy,” says Chad Wetterneck, PhD, cognitive behavior specialist for posttraumatic stress disorder programs. “While that may be true for some people, it’s really a time with a lot of strong emotion based off of how holidays have been for us in the past.”

“For those who have experienced a lot of joy during their past holidays, the season is a positive time. For others who have not found joy in previous holidays, the season can be a negative experience,” he says. “Even those who are usually joyful during the holidays can experience some grief. This year may be different because family or friends are unable to join them or because someone they love has passed away.”

When trying to keep up with holiday expectations, some put their own well-being on hold for the sake of others, which can become risky. “Overspending is something that some people are going to encounter this holiday. The best way to combat it is to think about whether you can set up a budget ahead of time,” says Dr. Wetterneck. “If you don’t have the financial resources this year, try telling friends and family that you’re going to give a gift that means a lot and talk about the meaning when you give it—rather than focusing on the dollar amount.”

With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it can be easy to jump to commit to an activity with loved ones without realizing how booked you already are. “It’s helpful to think ahead of time about what you’ll actually be able to accomplish or have a trusted friend who can help you decide what to commit to,” he says. “When someone asks you to join them for an activity, try telling them, ‘Let me get back to you,’ so you have more time to consider your schedule.” 

Some of us are likely to sacrifice our own self-care during this busy season. “Build some time in for yourself or even for the group you’re spending time with,” says Dr. Wetterneck. “Try suggesting that your group spend 15 minutes listening to holiday music or taking a walk to enjoy the holiday lights.”

Sue McKenzie, co-director of Rogers InHealth, explains that many people battle with their own internal stigma or personal expectations. “When some people face a challenging time, such as during the holiday season, they may tell themselves that should be able to ‘just tough it out,’ that they ‘should be able to handle it’ on their own,” she says. “People may avoid reaching out for help because they fear what it may say about themselves—but in reality, it’s healthier to ask for help than to set unrealistic personal expectations.”

McKenzie suggests that we help each other this holiday season by passing along our personal advice for coping with the stress. “We share our recipes with friends and family during the holidays, so why don’t we share our recipes for peace, for handling the holidays and for inner acceptance?”

December 11, 2015 - 7:51am

Experiential therapy is a hands-on experience-based approach that assists in healing and overcoming mental or emotional challenges. At Rogers, there’s a variety of experiential therapy approaches available to patients, including art and music therapy, recreational therapy, yoga, horticultural therapy and adventure therapy—which uses challenge courses at various campuses.

“All of the experiential therapies at Rogers engage groups through interactive experiences which can deepen their understanding of their treatment,” says Mike Hoelzer, art therapist at Rogers Memorial Hospital—Oconomowoc. “Patients could be using experiential therapy to work on their emotional awareness and expression, learning coping skills or developing new leisure skills.” 

Experiential therapy puts people in situations they may never have been in and the results of this therapy technique are encouraging. “I’ve seen so many people come into our program and express feelings that they may never have expressed before, learn new skills that they didn’t think they were able to accomplish, build new relationships, take healthy risks and learn to trust people,” says Hoelzer. “It’s quite an incredible way to work with people in a treatment setting.”

Although the activities used for art therapy sound like fun, there are difficult topics and realizations that patients have to face during their sessions. “The projects and tasks we do can be very exciting, but there is a lot of work going on in the therapy process, no matter what type of experiential therapy our patients may be participating in,” says Hoelzer. “At first, patients may be defensive about revealing their emotions, but when people start opening up in treatment, their defenses go down and their feelings start to become more readily expressed. Having the bravery to show true emotion is extremely important to begin problem solving and developing skills to cope.”

Hoelzer explains that through the creative process in art therapy, the patient and therapist may be able to pinpoint the exact stressor that caused the patient to seek treatment, talk about that moment and discuss how they may be able to improve their skills. “Others have used art therapy to express that after seeking treatment, they no longer feel alone and have been able to connect with others who face similar issues,” says Hoelzer. “Creating a piece of art can also serve as a great reminder for patients who want to hold onto the skills they learned in treatment and make those techniques a regular part of their life and activities.”

“When training parents, teachers and other adults in the community, we help them to understand how times when our children and youth are involved in movement, art and other activities are unique opportunities to connect at deeper levels,” says Sue McKenzie, co-director of Rogers InHealth. “Rather than see these times as breaks for the caregiver, they are times when we want to be more attentive and ready to listen.” Experiential therapists know that such experiences can be healing for the patient and in day-to-day life, they can be nourishing for relationships.

Rogers InHealth offers patient stories about facing challenges and new experiences, such as those available through experiential therapy.

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