Why an Intensive?

By Kris Keul - 12/08/2020


One of the aspects of working with Intensive Treatment Program (ITP) clients that I genuinely appreciate is witnessing an incredible amount of change in a short time. Catharsis. When I used to facilitate outtake sessions, I was aware of how and why our ITP clients’ experience change through the process. Counseling can and does help facilitate meaningful change.

So, why an intensive? Each week, we see a host of individuals from around the country who may be in relational or individual crisis. These crises may stem from all manner of issues, including addiction, family of origin trauma and abuse, infidelity, unhealthy dependence, depression, anxiety, etc. While these issues certainly check the box for why an individual or couple might attend our ITP, one doesn’t need to be in crises to justify attending. If I could “un-know” my colleagues and attend the ITP, I would. The work one does in the ITP is good due diligence on self. Other reasons for attending the ITP include understanding, processing, grieving, integrating, or letting go of what your life has been while exploring and creating anchors for where you want to go and how you want to be. Spending one week of your life in this process is undoubtedly a privilege. However, I wonder how we can justify not spending a week attending to who and what we are and how we want to be.

One of the key differences I experience in working with ITP clients versus my local clientele is the pace of counseling. I endeavor to help local and ITP clients, of course, but the processes are different. ITP clients have chosen to press pause on their life and are engaged in roughly 65 hours of therapy in just seven days. Intense, right? It is. For more details on the ITP, CLICK HERE. Monday through Friday, ITP clients are engaged in seven individual (or couples) hours of therapy, in addition to about four hours of daily group sessions. There is individual and group programming on the weekend as well. That is a lot of therapy. In all, it is more therapeutic time than most counselors would typically see with a client in a year. 

Given all the therapeutic time and energy an ITP client engages in, a client may underestimate the fatigue they may feel. Part of the fatigue a client experiences allows deeper processing. PCS counselors are usually allowed to move through more layers of a client’s life and experience due to their therapeutic fatigue. In my personal experience of attending counseling sessions as a client, I defended and guarded myself subconsciously. Retrospectively, I know that one way I defended myself was being too much in my daily life. I was embedded in the patterns of my life and my context of familiarity. A part of the choice to attend an ITP is choosing to be removed from one’s patterns and sit in the presence or discomfort of life. When therapists see their ITP clients becoming fatigued, we gently press further as the fatigue becomes an opportunity. 

Another factor an ITP client may not account for is the therapeutic team assembled around them. Each client will work with four to five counselors and/or psychologists. Our teams work within a therapeutic framework, but therapists are encouraged to work from their individual and preferred therapeutic modalities and worldview. This creates an incredible diversity of experiences in a client’s path toward their goals. Commonly, a departing ITP client mentions feeling benefited by the different perspectives offered by the diverse therapists in the treatment team. There is a lot of therapeutic energy generated by the ITP treatment team that is thrust into ITP clients’ work. Further, I am routinely amazed by my colleagues’ ability to flex into all manner of presentations offered by our clients.  In sum, if you are on the fence regarding whether or not an ITP makes sense for you, I can’t answer that for you. However, I do assert that an intensive at PCS offers a process within an environment that can facilitate actual lasting change.

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