PCH-Connected: Telehealth Mental Health Programs
PCH Treatment Center began in 2010, with the goal of helping clients to overcome psychological challenges and to lead better lives with richer relationships. Our model is based on in-person interactions where our clients work directly with a highly experienced clinical team of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and case managers. Clients may live in our supportive living houses or live independently, while attending full days of integrated treatment throughout the week. Clients benefit greatly from our treatment milieu, where human interactions with other clients, support staff and the clinical team are a constant. The support our clients find in our milieu promotes emotional containment and healing.
Over the past few years, there has been a movement involving telehealth, meaning conducting therapeutic meetings over a video conferencing platform. In the past two months, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, PCH has accepted the challenge of developing a rich and engaging telehealth program. We are calling our Telehealth programs PCH-Connected, to emphasize the importance of staying connected in a safe manner during these challenging times. While these programs cannot equal our in-person programs, they offer great value and certain advantages in the current social distancing environment.
Our Telehealth Programs
Clients more than ever, require help to diminish their anxiety, address depression, and talk about existential fears around illness and separation from loved ones. We have implemented two new programs which are solely Telehealth, utilizing our PCH-Connected platform. These programs are appropriate for clients who need psychological support but would prefer to maintain their own living arrangements while socially distancing.
We offer a 3 day per week (M/W/F) general program, and a three day per week (M/W/F) OCD program. These programs are available to clients located anywhere where they are able to connect to our structured program (internet connection required and workable time zone). The general program includes one individual session and two group sessions 3 days per week, while the OCD program has one group and two exposure and response prevention (ERP) individual sessions 3 days per week. Both programs provide one case management meeting per week with a Program Director.
Group Telehealth Programs
In addition to providing one-to-one individual therapy, PCH has become proficient at offering group therapies through a telehealth portal. Online webinars, trainings and classes have long been a part of the business and academic worlds. Now, that same technology is being effectively utilized by our licensed and experienced group facilitators, who are now proficient in managing group dynamics, allowing each client to become fully engaged within the group.
The PCH group program provides a sense of community, a desperate need in this time of global crisis. As we know from Facebook, Instagram and other social media, the virtual world can be threatening and unsafe, especially during this time. However, we choose to use the virtual world to provide a safe place to connect and learn, a place to express thoughts and feelings and receive answers to important questions, a space to listen to others and know that we are not alone. Group treatment is an evidence-based method that allows our clients to receive individualized attention while also benefiting from the emotional and social support that is unique to a group dynamic. Groups provide decreased isolation and a community with which to successfully tackle the unique challenges in the current world environment. Our PCH Connected general program group schedule emphasizes what we consider core groups: Process, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Relationships/Attachment and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Through listening to client feedback, we have been able to fine tune the schedule over time in order to create a rich and rewarding group experience for our clients.
The experience of telehealth versus in-person interactions is obviously different. In-person experiences offer more cues to the therapist, such as subtle changes in a client’s expression, position, posture, breathing, etc. Telehealth, on the other hand, lacks some of this dimension. However, telehealth sessions require continuous focus by the clients and practitioners and have been described as “very engaging, intense, and meaningful” by some clients. Group leaders have also noted a difference in group dynamics resulting from being able to view all participants at once, instead of looking at clients one at a time. Certain therapies are limited in their execution over telehealth, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and those somatic therapies that require touch (though somatic therapy can be effective without physical touch).
PCH offers tele-health treatment groups for our OCD clients. Groups are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals with a specialization in OCD and related disorders. Our groups combine Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills training with Exposure and Response Prevention. This approach is scientifically documented as the most effective approach to treating OCD and is the cornerstone of our in-person and tele-health programs.
Through our PCH-Connected program we are helping our clients see the current world crisis as an opportunity to discover new coping and resiliency in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. We are helping our clients to reframe difficulty as challenge, encouraging increased resiliency, and reminding everyone about the importance of gratitude as an antidote to depression and despair. We welcome you to our virtual PCH community and look forward to being of service to you. Let’s connect!