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A way to express their issues

Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Doctors might recommend therapy as a treatment for mental illness, and there is a wide array of therapy approaches.

Programs offered at Centegra’s 24-bed behavioral health unit in Woodstock include art therapy groups, spirituality groups, nutritional education and exercise groups, said Lori Sullivan, clinical nurse manager for the unit.

Art therapy is a way for patients to express what is going on without talking, said Dr. Sheila Senn, vice president and site administrator for Centegra Hospital – Woodstock.

“Some people aren’t as comfortable or as skilled expressing themselves verbally and so when you use different modes or mediums of expression, it can help people get to clarity or process through a particular issue,” Senn said. “Someone might be more comfortable or able to draw out an experience than to talk about it. Somethings come through the drawings that you’re not even aware of having a problem with, but they’re there. ... For some people, it’s even less threatening.”

Centegra also has music therapy and even has patients try yoga.

“We want people to leave here with some coping skills, not just a prescription,” Senn said. “One of the most important things we try to do is give people tools to stay well and cope with their issues.”

In group therapy, patients share what they’re going through and find they have experiences in common.

At Centegra, group therapy takes place in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Kevin Kloosterman, primary therapist with Centegra behavioral health, said each patient has the opportunity to share how their week went. He encourages them to share what’s working, any coping tools they employ, and any barriers that are making it difficult to move forward.

When people first get into group therapy, they might not open up right away in front of strangers. Eventually, however, they do open up.

“They begin to trust the group, they begin to connect with the other group members and the staff. Most people will say group therapy has been very helpful for them,” Kloosterman said. “Some will say it has been life-changing, because they’re able to see things through the eyes of other group members they’ve never seen before.”

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