In the recovery community, intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment is seen as a step-down in intensity related to maintaining sobriety and wellness. After all, clients receiving IOP treatment can leave after their individual or group therapy sessions, which don’t often occur more than once a week.
However, at the JourneyPure Orlando clinic, recovery requires hard work—not just out of the client but out of his or her family members.
Angel McNeill, LMHC, runs the biweekly family counseling sessions at the JourneyPure Orlando IOP, having taken them over in October 2018. She says the goal of the therapy is twofold, providing not just therapy but education.
“The first goal is to help them understand addiction a little better,” McNeill said. “The second is to provide a safe space for family members to air out their frustrations and have other people there to say, ‘Yup, I get it, I’ve been there.’
“Speaking of safe spaces: McNeill said that, while discussions among family members can get emotional, she has never experienced an instance of any tempers flaring.“I’ve never had a situation where someone so much as yells,” McNeill said. “Sometimes people get angry, but part of my job is to make sure people can safely experience their anger. And oftentimes, other people in the group help defuse it.
The Al-Anon Connection
McNeill has made a connection with the local Al-Anon Family Groups chapter, often spending the second hour of a session to attend a meeting nearby.
Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship that offers recovery programs for the families and friends of addicts, whether or not the addict seeks help. McNeill says Al-Anon representatives have been known to come by JourneyPure Orlando and answer people’s questions.
“The people we know at Al-Anon are fantastic,” McNeill said. “They’ll bring pamphlets and books and even hang around after the meeting is over to talk with people. “I’ve seen good things come out of that relationship, for sure.”
“A lot of what we do is basic, helping families become aware of their roles,” McNeill added. “People so often think of recovery as a ‘one and done’ thing, and it can be overwhelming to see it as something chronic. A huge part of my job is to tell people, ‘Hey, you’re not crazy. You’re just in a crazy situation.’”