17 April 2013

O is for...

It's day fifteen of the A to Z Challenge!

Today, I plan to bore you with the subject of occupations. As in jobs. As in, mine.

Yesterday, I gave you a glimpse into the night shift. I realize it was pretty vague, but I was trying to give you a snapshot of working overnight.

I am a mental health therapist (among the many other hats I wear in life). I work at a short-term residential program that provides crisis stabilization services. My program serves as an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. Yeah, a lot of big jargon-y words, I know. Basically, we help people who are in extreme psychological distress. People are psychotic (hearing voices, hallucinating - and not because of drugs), suicidal, manic, in need of social detox (need to get clean from alcohol or drugs but don't need medical supervision to do so) and they come to the program to get better. We don't "fix" anything, but we do provide a safe environment and significant structure so that people can get a little more stable and be better equipped to cope with whatever brought them to the program. Sometimes that's achieved through medication, sometimes just with therapy, sometimes it's a combo deal.

We do groups, individual sessions (but no laying on a couch), supervise taking medication, teach skills, drive to appointments, do family meetings for discharge planning, get people connected to services. It's kind of a catchall place, in some ways. We do a lot of different things depending on the needs of the individual.

We use all kind of treatment models - again, depending on the needs of the individual seeking services. My coworkers and I run quite the gamut of ideology and perspectives, which typically benefits the individual because they get a lot of different references/ideas/things to consider. It can be chaotic, too, with so many cooks in the kitchen but we usually make it work.

Days, especially during the week, are whirlwinds of activity. We keep the day pretty structured, because that kind of structure is beneficial for someone in distress. We run groups throughout the day and residents are expected to attend, because the groups are part of what gets them well.

I have no idea if this is helpful for some of you who have been wondering what it is I do. Hopefully, this gives you a frame of reference when I start into my mental health jargon later on down the road. :-)


  1. I have a friend who, seriously, not the "I have a friend who", greatly benefited from a facility such as yours and is still recovering. You people do amazing work under tough circumstances and hurray for you! I could never do it...but then again, a lot of people would never teach 7th grade math and English...but I loved it. We each have our calling. Thanks for stopping by at Life is Good today and for your encouraging comment. Much appreciated!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

  2. Tina,

    Thanks for that! I'm so fortunate to have found something I love doing. And thank goodness for those other people out there teaching math, because it would be horrific if I had to do it. :-)

  3. Blessings to you. What you and your colleagues do, I file in the "higher calling" folder. I love that those in need have this alternative to conventional psychiatric wards/hospitals.

  4. Sounds like an interesting job. I worked 3rd shift for 7 years and that put me in the mentally ill category. :)
    A to Z April Blogging Challenge

  5. Thank you for insight! What an amazing place to work at!
    - Heather The Evil Twin with Love from the A to Z Challenge @thewinetwins.blogspot.com

  6. Ellen, you are too kind! I must admit, though, that I love the fact that there are crisis stabilization programs. They do so much good in the mental health community.

  7. Debra, I hear you! Night shifts can lead to some "cognitive impairments," shall we say. :-)

  8. Heather, you are welcome! It is pretty amazing and, occasionally, off the chain. Sometimes we are so busy, it's unbelievable. Totally worth it, though.