Podcast: Get Well Faster. The Intensive Therapy Option


Tova and therapist Nicole Velez Alfonso discuss the value and opportunity of doing therapy intensively as individuals or through retreats.


Host: Tova Kreps, LCSW
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Guest: Nicole Velez, LMHC


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00:02                                     Welcome to wellspring on the air. I'm tova co founder and president of Wellspring Counseling and today's program is titled Unique Therapeutic Format. Today we're going to talk to you about all the different ways of having therapy besides the once a week traditional type of format. And with me today in the studio, I have Nicole Alfonso Velez. Hi Nicole. Hey, Nicole is one of our therapists at wellspring and she is absolutely invested in doing a particular type of therapy called intensives.

01:00                                     Nicole, tell us a little bit about what that means. So intensives are a time that you take out of your life to focus specifically on your healing. And so it might be a week, it might be four days, and you really do disconnect from life for a little bit of time so that you can focus on yourself and your healing. Okay. So Nicole and I were doing this show because we both actually really believe in this. And, and interestingly, we believed in this before this year, but she and I each separately went on her own intensive retreat, uh, individual therapy time, um, just in this last year. And Nicole, you just got back from yours. I just got back two days ago. I'm fresh, fresh. And why did you do that? Oh, so I wanted to heal some deep wounds that I had from my childhood. And so I felt like it was really important that I take that time now because I have young children and if we do not heal our wounds, we lead from our wounds.

02:02                                     We lead from our pain. And so I really wanted to clear all that out so I could be a really great wife and good mom and servant of the Lord. I just wanted to be better. And I knew that I could. And God would meet me there. So, so did he meet you there? Absolutely. Met me there in so many ways. I can't even describe. But yes he did. He met me there and he, and he held me through it and we did some really great work. So for you listener out there, you may be wondering is if this was a wellspring thing? I think the wellspring part of it is that we at wellspring tried to practice what we preach yes. And make sure that we lead even as therapists from a place of health. And so we really do. But interestingly, Nicole and I went to the same place out in Phoenix.

02:46                                     There's a wonderful therapist out there that I found who does this type of work. That's all she does is intensive individual therapy. And I wanted to learn more about the model, but I also wanted to experience it myself. So, um, my own personal experience was to go there in June of this year. It's kind of a, uh, not a great time to go to Phoenix. It's really hot. Yes. But, um, it, it was great and I kind of like Nicole, I really wanted to take a break, um, and attend that. You know, it's really hard to do it in an hour here and a half an hour there. We're so busy, I'm so busy. I needed to stop life, not work for a few days and just let it be about me. Kind of. It felt kind of selfish, but give yourself that permission though, that you need that time to focus on yourself.

03:31                                     Yeah. The, I think the fact that I went was actually a statement of health for me that, cause I did, I felt selfish taking the time away and doing it all about me. And they're like, it shouldn't just all be all about me, but sometimes it really needs to be. And so I left my family behind my two young kids with my husband and my husband was completely onboard who was really happy that I was wanting to do this and he was very supportive. And so I really trusted that my kids were in good hands and I really needed to let that be so that I could focus on healing me. Yeah, yeah. I left my baby work [inaudible] my kids are all grown up and I left that baby behind and trusted them to and everything. Okay. Right. Everything was fine without me, but that time alone, that time with God, the time where I just stopped long enough to actually be still and know that God was God to, to attend to some of my own personal things, just really powerful.

04:28                                     So really I think I want to describe intensive individual work. Well, first of all, let's define it as taking a few days off, maybe two days up to five days in a row and doing therapy for several hours a day, or maybe even a lot of the day, or even homework part of the day. So maybe you're with a therapist two or three hours, but then you're doing personal work and you're just not doing anything else in terms of life. Just being still and whether that's a little art or a little music or hikes or homework assignments and writing and journaling and reading and that kind of thing. So that's what intensive looks like. I like to compare it in contrast to traditional therapy once a week. Seeing a therapist has a a lot of advantages. There are times you need to do that. So if you're working on a marriage, if you're working on your parenting, you kind of get a little nugget and work on it and go and practice it.

05:21                                     So you need that weekly practice. But in, in this kind of type of work, when you're doing trauma work, when you're doing work on old wounds, it's a lot more like surgery than like physical therapy. Think of traditional therapies like physical therapy. You go and you work at it after your surgery and you, you practice it, you go build the muscles and the strength of the muscles. But sometimes you need surgery and we would never do surgery on an outpatient basis. You would not go one week and you know, get your anesthesia and go back the next week to get cut off. Sometimes you just need to stop long enough to do all the work and get pulled back together before you leave. And that's the way I see intensive therapy. You're doing all the work at once. You let yourself fall apart in safe hands and in a safe way without trying to carry responsibilities and then get put back together before you exit and then go back to that physical therapy kind of model.

06:14                                     What a great way to put it too. Oh, that's such a good example of what it is. Yeah. Okay. So with us today, we're going to call it, we have someone who's out of the state who came into wellspring for individual intensive therapy. She found us online and this is something we offer at wellspring. And so she came to meet with us and had this therapy and she's willing to give a testimony to that. We're calling her up in New York today, so we're going to get her on the line and we'll be right back with our guests. So Hi Tammy, welcome to our show today.

06:45                                     Well, thank you for having me.

06:46                                     I appreciate your willingness to, to call in and, and give us a little bit of a testimony about your experience in doing an intensive therapy with wellspring. That was a good experience. I hear from you.

06:57                                     It was, it was on a very dark point in my life where I didn't feel like I had much hope and, um, I was at a moment of desperation actually.

07:07                                     Wow. So tell me what made you find or decide you even wanted an intensive therapy or find, you know, seek that out?

07:15                                     Well, my husband and I had been married for 23 years and we were probably at the highest point in our marriage. We really, things were great. They just couldn't be better. As a matter of fact, um, the night that he, um, unfortunately died, um, was probably one of the best nights of my life. And, um, but I came home and he was supposed to have, you know, a dinner done and he wasn't there. And unfortunately, he just never came home. And we searched and there were over a hundred responders that looked for him and they finally found his body the next morning. And it was a tremendous amount of trauma that I experienced. I mean, he was my best friend. He was my husband. He just, you know, we, we were getting ready to make plans for retirement. You know, our children were grown and you had already gone out with their own families and it were at that point where, you know, you work hard all your life and you're supposed to be able to arrive at a point.

08:16                                     Then all of a sudden my world was turned upside down and, and he wasn't there. And you know, um, we unfortunately at the age of 51, you know, we, we had to bury him and I had to go on, on my own and it was very, very difficult. And I'm a, um, you know, I pride myself in trying to be independent in my own job. So I did what I think most people who are in my situation, a lot of people would do as you feel like you just got to get back on the horse and get back to work and get your life back together and you start making plans to make this work. And, and, and I, I, for whatever reason, I really didn't remember what he looked like. I didn't really fell like I just, I might, for some reason, I just kind of pushed that aside.

09:02                                     I didn't realize that at the time that does what I had done. But I had really tried to try to avoid the pain of grease by, by not running away from it, but trying to move on, be strong and move on. But unfortunately, when I, when I came to wellspring, I realized, you know what, I need help. And, um, and I reached out and, and I was, I just was very, God just, it was a no, no way around it. God brought me to wellspring and I was able to, um, to understand why I had a hard time coping with the death. Even after a couple, you know, two and a half, three years. As a matter of fact, I did my intake on the day of the third anniversary of his death. And it made me understand and maybe put words to it. It made me have healing.

09:54                                     But the most important thing in terms of, of what happened at the end was the fact that I was finally able to find what I had been looking for all along. And that was peace. And, uh, cause you're never gonna understand those things. You don't even asking why is, is not a question that really has a good answer. So, you know, God has our, has our years measured and, and we don't understand all of that, but we just have to, we have to pick up and move on. But the only way we're going to ever find peace in it is by letting God, you know, work through the people that he sends them to our lives. Like he did me with, um, with wellspring.

10:35                                     Wow. Now I just, I feel kind of overwhelmed listening to you actually. Um, I can't imagine that shocking a loss in your whole life being so, so different. So suddenly, um, you've done a great job of describing really the process of what the way we see recovery, which is, you know, we actually have to attend to our wounds. We, we, we can get past them and we need to sometimes functioning for a little while just getting on that function mode as a really good way to start moving forward. But at some point I'm needing to go back and, and to let ourselves have permission to stop and degree of the loss, which is what you've, what you've done. We don't, like you said, we don't have answers in that, but we can find peace and on a, you've just done a beautiful job of describing that. Absolutely. Yes.

11:21                                     Yeah. I mean, you know, you kind of have to walk back over to the point of the pain and the point of my pain wasn't, believe it or not, wasn't I discovered wasn't the, the moment I found out that I had lost him. But the point of my pain was the last moment that I saw him and it was close to the close on like a lot of people, you know, I did get a last embrace. I did get a left. I love you. But that was the most painful part because that's the part I no longer have. And um, and it was such a traumatic event waiting for him. He also, he was killed in a, um, a four willing accident and the pain of waiting for them to look for his body and to finally find it, you know, I'll just, it, it's just, you know, it's, you're afraid to go there.

12:12                                     It's a dark place and it's not, and your body I think does, does what it has to do your mind or your brain does what it has to do to survive. And that is, you know, just either avoid it or bury it or, you know, I cried all the time. I mean, even at work, people kinda got used to me crying and people were very supportive, but you know, that didn't take away the loss and the most important thing. I wanted my life back. I just wanted my life back. So I started doing things that would get my life back and Brian thought would bring my life back. But the problem is God, you know, has, has a very interesting way of working because he really wanted me to free discover my life in him. And so now I can tell you that I am in a most wonderful, wonderful relationship with a man named Jesus. And, um, and that's, and that's more than enough. I need to fill any gaping holes that I have from any loss. Um, but I've experienced. So it's just that I never, I never knew there could be such peace and sorrow and, and pain, but, um, but I've been able to, to put, put my grief and my sorrow in a, in a place where it, you know, I left it, it God at Jesus' feet actually, and um, and I'm, I'm in a good place.

13:31                                     Wow. Your testimony is, it's an amazing thing for me to hear. Thank you so much. And I just want to say to those listening, um, I think Tammy, you're healing. I could hear it in your voice as you share, you know, these things aren't easy to share when you haven't healed them. These details that you're speaking of. So I can see how God has really worked through these things for you and, and have brought you back to the light, you know, so, so grateful for you sharing this with us. Yeah, you're welcome. Well, you've been brave and you have been able to talk about, you know, the loss and the testimony of it and the testimony of God meeting you in that sorrow. I'm, I'm giving you peace. It's, it's an amazing thing. If I can take us back to a little bit higher level just of practical. So you found us on online, right? I mean, is that right?

14:24                                     I did, I did. You know, everybody says when you go through of a death like that, oh, you know, you, you knew you need to get help. And I did. If I said okay, that I have, I thought of my journey after my husband's passing as a bunch of boxes that needed to be checked. So there were a lot of, you know, dying a lot of work. There's a lot of paperwork involved, there's a lot of stuff you've got to do. You've got, you know, you just, you've got to, you know, rethink your, your finances and rethink, you know, how, how you live. But one of the boxes that had to be checked with getting counseling, well, I saw, okay, I gotta, I gotta go do that. So I went to grief share, which was wonderful. I met with in a local church and the most wonderful facilitators and I was able to share my story and they shared theirs.

15:07                                     We cried together, we cried every week. And I did that and I thought, okay, there's that box checked for. The truth of the matter is I need, Tammy had never one on one, just really dealt with it. I mean the, there was, there was a lot of stuff that needed to be dealt with that I, I thought I was bigger and stronger. Like, no, I don't need that. I kept telling him, no, I don't need that. I can myself, I don't need, I don't need help. I, I'm a big girl, I can do this. But the truth of the matter was I was in trouble. I mean, I was really in trouble. It all been almost three years and I knew that this was not going to work. I was on both time. And so I did. I went on the Internet, I love, you know, and I live upstate New York and I went online and I said, God, I know I want a Christian place.

15:54                                     That's the one thing I knew and I know I need some serious counseling for Greece. And so there were two or three, you know, my search brought me to two or three and then it narrowed it down. I don't know what God led me towards Bradley, who else? And I, it was intense therapy. You know, I was able to go for just a week that I went and I did 10 90 minute sessions and they were very, very intense. And when each was over, I was exhausted. But I had to walk back through the pain and I had to go back and I had to meet my husband again and start over and, and tried to process, okay, what really happened? What all this stuff they got pushed away. I had to bring back. But I ha it was a healthy, it was a very, very healthy and I felt cathartic.

16:40                                     It was like I had done through a cleansing in like, okay, I can do this. And when I got back home, I was tired. But you know what I was, I had the, I aren't the most unbelievable piece cause I knew now I really can get on with my life in a direct, but, but now I don't make plans. I'm just, I'm at a point where I'm ready for retirement, but you know what? I don't plan tomorrow and I don't look back to yesterday. I live today and God gives me peace in my journey and I know that everything's gonna be okay because I'm in this great relationship with a man named Jesus.

17:17                                     Wow. Well, on that note, I think that's a great place to end. You've said it all. I think we could end the show on that note. But I just really want to thank you, Tammy. I know our time is up, but thank you for sharing and thank you for being so honest and personal and, and raw and, uh, we just, uh, wish God's blessing on you and your life. Let me pray for you real quickly before we let you go. Thank you. Father, we just thank you for Tammy. We thank you for how you, um, have worked in her life. We thank you for how you let her to wellspring for a place of healing. Cause Lord you, you guide each one of us to where we to be for you to do what you need to do in our lives. Lord, we thank you most of all that you are the man in her life, a Jesus who is present with her today and giving her everything she needs.

18:00                                     So she has enough. And we just thank you for all of that. Um, ask that you bless her today, um, in her work and in her life and in her journey with you Jesus name. Amen. Amen. All right. Thanks Tammy. Bye. Bye. Bye. Wow, Nicole, that was amazing conversation with Tammy. It's so powerful. The healing that God allowed. So powerful. God where I, yes, it does the work. We just get to come alongside knowing and watch him do it and watch him do it. I love our jobs. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back, we're going to talk to you about intensive therapy versus the weekly traditional format.

18:36                                     Wellspring now offers professional Christian counseling at six locations in Dade County. Therapists are now taking clients at two new locations, one at Crossbridge, Miami Springs and [inaudible] for more information, (786) 573-7010 or wellspring miami.org for more information.

18:57                                     So welcome back to our show. This is Tova Krups with wellspring on the air. Um, all right, let's, let's tell our audience a little bit about and intensive therapy. Um, Nicole, who do you think would benefit from intensive therapy versus the weekly traditional format? So I think about professionals and executives, um, people that, um, students, people that have to, um, you know, have jobs that are, require a lot of attention. So, um, it's hard for someone to do individual and go back to that kind of rat race, you know, and it'd be a productive thing. So I think taking time off completely, um, from your job, from your family, just to focus on yourself. Yeah. Not going in for a heavy hour session or an hour and a half session and then going back to the office, it's just really hard or even back home to take care of the kids.

19:44                                     Um, that kind of thing. So, so professional executive athletes, maybe students who are in for breaks, things like that. And those that need like immediate support. So, you know, something really crazy hard has happened. Yeah. So, so they need to, they're not functioning, you know, they're, they're really limited in their functioning. They can't get up, you know, in the mornings. It's just there. Yeah. If you're not functioning, you might as well do intensive work. There's no reason to delay and do it once a week. Just just spend the time and get yourself back up and running. So I think also out of towners, we have a lot of people who come in and do intensives because they're coming to wellspring. There are a lot of missionaries who come to us and pastors from other places and, and they come to us because they're from out of town.

20:25                                     So they just want to crank it out and, and do it that way. So, all right, so what does it really include? Intensive therapy and intensive is one therapist with you an entire day for the amount of days, three to five days. And it's just you and that therapist I'm working through, um, about maybe two sessions a day. So our sessions are, uh, an hour or so, two or three sessions every day for about four or five days. So that's kind of what it would look like. And it would include all different types of therapy. So really the first day is an intake or even before coming, uh, what's the plan we're going to do? What are your goals? And saying therapy could be EMDR, trauma work, it could be CBT. It could be some experiential art therapies or even even our equine assisted learning. That could be one day know one day it could be equine assisted.

21:13                                     So absolutely. All right. So it occurs, um, at our office, typically at Old Cutler, our old Cutler office in Palmetto Bay, but not necessarily. And honestly, someday we are hoping to have a retreat center where people who come could stay and actually do that. But at the moment people stay in a hotel, they stay nearby, um, or they're hosted by a family or friend. Um, so how much does it cost Nicole? So we just stick to our hourly rate, which is one 35 for an hour for a licensed person. Exactly. For a licensed clinician. And so I would say that it's about $400 a day if you're talking about a three hours per day therapy work. Um, and so depending on the goals, it would be three to four or five days. Yup. Okay. And, um, what are the advantages of doing it this way versus the traditional ones?

22:02                                     A week? So I think the efficiency that you have for addressing everything in this time, you know, oftentimes we need to do little by little in therapy work that we do, um, weekly and that can take us a long time. I think you also save a lot of time in the actual therapy because when you do it weekly, you actually have kind of a check in and how, how's your week and kind of review where things went. So you don't actually just dive right in. Exactly. You've actually saved about 10 minutes out of every session and then the wrap up and the wrapup. Okay. Productivity of actual deep work. Yes. I think there's a big advantage to that. Absolutely. I think that there's also, um, point of finding resolution and healing, uh, in this type of therapy because, um, you do go through, you know, through the steps, through a process, um, with individual therapy that can kind of get, um, cut every time, you know, you're getting somewhere.

22:59                                     But, uh, we got to end the session. And some people really like that cause they, they're hiding in, they don't really want to do the work. We've done good. I'm so glad we're done. You know, we didn't get to the real issue. So really it's about getting to the real issue, right. Giving you enough time to get to the real issues and the deep deep wounds. It's true. I also think it's um, a great advantage for people who don't have access to where they live. So the out of town or should come. This is an opportunity to get really to be braggy, top-quality therapy, Christian counseling that's really skilled if maybe they don't have access to it. When I was a thing, there's a limit as far as Christian intensives and so that's not something that's easily found out. It's not, you know, it's not, we had to go to Phoenix.

23:42                                     Yeah, exactly. Zona cause can't have our own therapists doing work on us. It's just not, it doesn't work for us that way. So. All right, well I want to bring up before we end, I want to talk about the other way of individual intensives, which is individual intensives in a group format. And we have a new, we're just starting these, it's called her restore retreat and it is an intensive and really individual intensives in a group format. So we have one coming up November 3rd to seventh this year, 2019 November 3rd to seventh and in this one we are going to a beautiful resort here. It's in, it's in the Redland and absolutely stunning with a lagoon and beautiful paths and tropical vegetation waterfall and everything. It's just beautiful, beautiful place to be. So, you know, 30 minute drive for most of us, somewhere from Miami, uh, to just get away and suddenly actually feel like we're away and in a beautiful retreat place.

24:38                                     And at that we have a cap on the number of people we will have for that. But that individual format in a group setting, we'll include basically a, we'll start on a Sunday evening, we'll have a little bit of music, some introductions, introduction to the content and the week. Then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it'll be nine to five. And then Thursday it'll be nine to noon. And in that time on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the mornings, what we'll do is have some teaching time about trauma and about how to recover the steps of getting over bad things that happened to us. And then we'll have some small groups, we'll match people into small groups based on kind of common trauma issues or what we think are really good matches. So it'll only be four or five people in a group with a therapist for each group. And so there'll be some group work and then there'll be some individual, um, art therapy and things like that.

25:28                                     So that group will have in the afternoon some experiential work that they'll do. They'll have homework assignments or experiential assignments where they literally have the time to not just talk about the bad things that happen, but to actually process them through art, through other means. You don't have to be an artist to come. It's just a, it's just experiential ways of using color and light and movement and other things to kind of get at that grief and the loss and the meaning behind it. Um, for us. So our cost for this, okay. The cost for this is 1750 and that includes all of the programming, all of the experiences, the therapy, everything included in an blanche and some snacks for the day. Um, if people pay upfront for the whole amount, there's a discount down to $1,600 for the, for the full program, people who want to stay overnight, we only have a few limited rooms, but we really want to help.

26:23                                     We do fill those and we have some rooms onsite for people who want to stay overnight and there's an additional cost for those who want to stay for the room and also to extra meals and not having to go out for the meals. So the breakfast and the dinner and the rooms and that's about an extra $800 for the full time for those who, who want to stay overnight, that's a first come first serve basis. And this is for adults who have experienced a negative, a major negative life event. Right? Something like what Tammy spoke of. Yes. It could be your childhood event though too. It doesn't have to be a current, it could be a major loss, like a tragedy like Tammy, it could be a childhood abuse that you've never had that opportunity to deal with or any, anybody that currently still lingers for you.

27:07                                     If you sit with your eyes closed and you think of what is that thing that is still bothering me, that is still hurting me, that's, and nothing is too small or too big. I think it's important that we, we not judge other people's quote trauma and say, Oh, that's not really traumatic compared to somebody else. If it's still lingering for us and it affects how we parent, like you said, or, and affects how we get along or what we think or our capacity to succeed in life. Uh, maybe it's underneath an addiction, maybe those kinds of things. Um, then, then it's not too small and it's not two bags. Right? That's right. It is what it is for you. And so it's important. It is, uh, this is for men and women and we will kind of be sensitive to that as we make our groups and, and that kind of thing.

27:51                                     So we just want to invite any of you listeners, if you're interested in this, this is coming up November 3rd to seventh. You can go to our website and find information on it. It's called the restore retreat. We invite you to do that very, very soon because we will fill up, although we will try to do another one in January. So go ahead. And even if we're full, we'll, we'll start filling a January one as well. Um, and then as we wrap up, I want to say that we do have a couple other types of experiential therapies. So one of them I know you want to mention, Nicole, is equine. That's horse assisted therapy. So that's working with a horse through some things and allowing the horse to show you some things about yourself. And you know, horses are really honest, so they're gonna, um, they're gonna show you things that you don't know and they're gonna do it right away.

28:39                                     So you get immediate feedback. Yeah, it's practice, live practice. But with Orson steady, with a person for some of our relational things, we also do biofeedback, which is just getting, being able to learn how to calm ourselves down by watching our own body on a computer screen and shows us what, when we change our thoughts, it changes our heart rate and our rhythms and that kind of thing. And again, we've already had mentioned doing art learning experiences. We really believe trauma is embedded in the sensory, and so to heal it, we often have to get at the sensory side of those events. All right, we're out of our time. It's time to wrap up. Thank you, Nicole for joining us. It's been a great time and we wanna encourage any of you listeners, if this is something of interest to you, intensive therapy or intensive therapy in a group format, that retreat, the store retreat, then go to our website wellspring miami.org

PodcastAlexandra Delgado