What makes U-center's treatment approach sustainable and effective? Our psychologist Myrr van den Broek explains how, among other things, our holistic vision, group therapies, practice and evidence-based treatments all play a role in the recovery of our clients.
”At U-center you work together with a team of practitioners ánd the client on the recovery of the client,” says Myrr. “I thought that was very interesting, so after my studies, I immediately started working at U-center.” She has now been working in the treatment center in Epen for almost 3 years.
What is your approach and expertise as a psychologist?
At U-center I teach the MBT (mentalization based therapy) groups and have further developed in ACT (acceptance commitment therapy), schema therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Besides all these techniques I apply, I also focus on connecting with my client and try to really understand the person in front of me. ‘What must it have been like for him or her to have experienced this? I think it's also important that we can talk about everything during therapy, no matter how dark someone's thoughts might be.
Most people who come to our treatment center have experienced mental health issues for so long and have tried so many possible solutions that they have sometimes lost themselves. That is why I think it is very important to pay attention to 'who are you as a person’, because in addition to your complaints, you are also just human. Often people also think “I am no longer valuable at all and all I have is misery and problems”. That is why we also focus on what makes you valuable, and not just the diagnoses.
Focusing on comorbidity
Why do clients come to U-center?
Diagnoses go hand in hand and in many cases more than one diagnosis is involved. If you work on addiction problems, there is often another problem underneath. If you only tackle the addiction, the other diagnosis will likely surface again. Or if you only treat the other diagnosis, the addiction may pop up again. In those cases, it is very important to treat both diagnoses at the same time.
Most clients at U-center have tried regular mental health facilities but found it did not have sufficient effect. Many trajectories that people went through before they came to U-center were focused on one part of the mental health issues, despite there being multiple problems. At U-center we look at the whole picture and in particular at the person himself.
A while ago a client said to me, “I have always only paid attention to my PTSD, but I also keep getting stuck in certain patterns and those patterns also perpetuate my trauma. I keep running into things that I avoid or do not discuss. At U-center I cannot ignore those patterns, because here we treat both my patterns and traumas.” I also regularly hear clients say that it can be good to get away from your daily life for a while to work on yourself, but that there is still enough room to involve your loved ones in your process.
Clients often mention that they don't feel like a number at U-center, that people really listen here and that we take our clients into consideration in every decision. That is perhaps the greatest compliment we can receive as a practitioner?
A mix of different therapies
Part of our treatments are evidence-based (scientifically proven to be effective) and part of it is practice-based (proven to be effective in practice) and consists of treatments that we think can contribute to someone's recovery. For example, with practice-based treatment we offer Oxygen for the Soul. A form of drama therapy in which you learn to see yourself as a protagonist in your own life. In such a treatment you let go of the armor of neatness, control and fears and you get space to feel confident and carefree again.
In that sense, we also focus on how we can help someone in their personal growth outside of conventional therapy. There are also many different therapies here, individually and in groups. Clients often say, “I was able to try everything, even sessions that I had not expected to help. Often those sessions were perhaps the most useful.” That diverse range of therapies also aids in recovery. Clients also often mention that they don't feel like a number at U-center, that people really listen here and that we take our clients into consideration in every decision. That is perhaps the greatest compliment we can receive as a practitioner?
The value of group therapy
Group therapy with different people with varying issues can sometimes seem a little intimidating for clients. Yet this variation provides a lot of insights for clients. People are often surprised at how many similarities there are even though they are at U-center for a different reason. It could be how you grew up, what you went through, or certain recurring feelings you have in common. You can recognize a lot in each other and also give a lot of support to each other. It can also be nice if someone had completely experiences and can therefore offer a completely different perspective on how to deal with your own issues.
During group therapy you learn a lot from each other's feedback. You become more aware of your response to someone else’s behavior and why. Sometimes you are not aware of certain behavior and might discover certain behaviors in group therapy. That can be very confronting, but everyone learns a lot from it. Generally, you spend half of the days together in group therapy. You also see each other during meals and possibly during your free time. This means you share a lot of time with each other and can see each other's process and growth. Sharing the lows and highs with each other can be very encouraging.
Treatment from a holistic vision
At U-center we always try to look at the whole picture of the person in front of us. On the one hand, we look at the diagnoses, who are you as a person, what have you been through, what are the things that have shaped you and how do you deal with all those things? We call this a holistic approach. Based on that approach, we determine which goals are appropriate. That is why we have an open dialogue with the client and we coordinate the treatment plan with the client. The client always has some control and I think that is very important. In addition, we also look at different areas of people's lives, such as what does your social life look like, how is it going physically, can we involve relatives in the treatment. That combination is always the starting point for our treatment at U-center.