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10 Things People Won't Tell You About Intensive Outpatient Programs

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This is based on my own experience in an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Everyone’s experience will be unique. Make sure to find the right IOP that fits for you. Not all are the same.

1. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.

They will make you say how you are feeling today and if you have any suicidal thoughts, but if you don’t want to say anything else you don’t have to.

2. In the beginning, you might be afraid of the other people there.

Not everyone is coming from the same place or has the same problems you do. Each person heals in a different way. Just know you are in a safe place.

3. Only your therapist and psychiatrist need to know your history, not the entire group.

You get to choose how much you share with the group. If you want to speak about your childhood, you can. No one will force you to talk about anything in a group setting.

4. Some days are going to be depressing.

Sometimes everyone is having a bad day and no one wants to talk. That’s OK too. Don’t let the mood of the room get you down.

5. The skills you learn are invaluable.

Truly. You may read something online, but being in a group and being “forced” to meditate or color or talk about certain things really does solidify those skills in your mind.

6. You may want to offer your advice to every person there.

Remember you are there to work on your own self care. Make sure to listen and take it all in. Focus on yourself, and others will learn from you.

7. The medication may not always work.

Your psychiatrist will work with you and can figure out what medication(s) are best for you. They may take time to work, so be patient.

8. Healing can be frustrating.

And everyone there will empathize with you. You have to be patient and work at healing. It won’t happen overnight.

9. Don’t be afraid to say you have suicidal thoughts.

It is better to let them know while you are in a safe place than to hide it away. Get the help when you need it.

10. You might not want to leave.

After having a schedule and going someplace three times a week, I didn’t want to leave. I felt safe and had friends I wanted to keep seeing, but I now feel so much better. I know I can get back to my life.

You leave IOP with appointments, medication and a plan to keep getting better. Remember you can always go back and get help.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

Originally published: May 26, 2016
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