ETHOS Treatment Celebrates 4th Anniversary of IOP Telehealth Options

ETHOS Treatment Celebrates 4th Anniversary of IOP Telehealth Options

As COVID-19 brought the world unprecedented challenges, the pandemic forced businesses, schools, and healthcare providers to think outside of the box for solutions.

Four years ago — when the shutdown began — ETHOS Treatment LLC began to offer its proven Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for people recovering from mental health issues or substance use disorders via telehealth.

“As a company, we decided to take a leap and continue to provide clinical services for those who struggle with mental health and substance use disorder despite not knowing whether or not we’d receive insurance payments at first,” explains ETHOS Co-Founder A. Michael Blanche, MSS LCSW. “Before COVID, telehealth was honored for individual outpatient sessions — but insurance didn’t cover group sessions nor IOP. We were committed to doing what was right for the patient during a challenging and complex time.”

Four years later, ETHOS’s telehealth Intensive Outpatient Program and telehealth outpatient group therapy have become invaluable as they allow individuals facing numerous barriers to treatment — including transportation issues, childcare, and challenging work schedules — to build strong relationships and get the help that they need in order to recover and thrive.

“These clients now have instant access not only to licensed clinicians with extensive clinical experience, but also to specialized small groups and our signature Intensive Outpatient Programs for mental health and substance use disorders,” explains Blanche. “We take pride in the continued success of our Telehealth format and our ability to reach a wide range of individuals.”

The core Telehealth clinical team at ETHOS consists of licensed professionals with decades of clinical experience. They are:

  • Sheila Bellwoar, LPC, with over 30 years of direct clinical experience
  • Troy Jackson, LSW, with over 15 years of direct clinical experience
  • Justin Levin, MA, CAADC, LMFT, with close to 20 years of direct clinical experience
  • Chris Richars, LPC, with close to 15 years of direct clinical experience

In addition, some ETHOS clinicians offer a hybrid model for clients who struggle with a full day of treatment, serving as a bridge back to in-person programs. Most clinicians at ETHOS will offer telehealth as an option for individual outpatient therapy, as well.

“Regardless of whether delievered in-person or via telehealth, we remain committed to providing high-quality care and innovation in our approach to meeting the needs of our clients,” says Blanche.

With outpatient treatment centers in Philadelphia, West Chester, Plymouth Meeting, Collegeville, Broomall, Jenkintown, and Wyomissing, ETHOS helps adults and teens with mental health issues and substance use disorders through individual counseling, small group, and family therapy. 

Several locations also host programs for people with gambling disorders, as well as groups specifically for first responders and men who have experienced trauma.

Start your recovery journey with ETHOS now. Our virtual IOP programs currently have no waitlist. Call 267.669.0300.

Reducing the Stigma of Eating Disorders Starts with Education

Reducing the Stigma of Eating Disorders Starts with Education

Despite high mortality rate, only one in five seek professional treatment 

Eating disorder does not have “a look” and it does not affect only a certain population. Anyone, regardless of sex, gender identity, ethnicity, age, and body type can experience an eating disorder. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 28.8 million Americans will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Only one in five people with an eating disorder will seek treatment from a provider who specializes in treating eating disorders (CITATION).

With eating disorders having the second highest mortality rate of any mental illness (CITATION), we must take action to prevent eating disorders and support those who may struggle. The first step is to reduce the stigma and educate people about what an eating disorder is. 

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a condition where people avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They also may weigh themselves repeatedly. Even when dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. (CITATION 1)

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a condition where people have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or over overweight. 

Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder is a condition where people lose control over their eating and have reoccurring episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), previously known as selective eating disorder, is a condition where people limit the amount or type of food eaten. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with ARFID do not have a distorted body image or extreme fear of gaining weight. ARFID is most common in middle childhood and usually has an earlier onset than other eating disorders. Many children go through phases of picky eating, but a child with ARFID does not eat enough calories to grow and develop properly, and an adult with ARFID does not eat enough calories to maintain basic body function.

A lack of knowledge about eating disorders or that someone may be experiencing an eating disorder is just one of the many barriers to treatment. Additional barriers to care include: a lack of eating disorder specialists, lack of access to health insurance coverage. the cost of treatment, and the stigma and feeling shameful about eating habits.

ETHOS is here to help break down those barriers and provide quality care to those struggling with eating disorders. Our staff include therapists, registered dietitians, and psychiatric nurse practitioners who have years of experience treating individuals who are suffering from an eating disorder. We offer financing to alleviate the cost associated with treatment. We are committed to reducing the stigma and supporting the community. We welcome anyone who may want an assessment to reach out and discuss your needs. We are here to help. 

The Ins and Outs of Bipolar Disorder

The Ins and Outs of Bipolar Disorder

Jennifer F. O’Connor, LCSW & Jenn Attaquin, LPC

With mental health education and the use of mental health language becoming more mainstream in today’s society and across social media, the true meaning of Bipolar Disorder and its symptoms is still a great unknown to many. Someone may have a few difficult days feeling “blah” or unmotivated, then feel better and more like themselves again, and describe themselves as “Bipolar” – but that is not Bipolar. Feeling more active in the morning and less at night is not Bipolar. Most people have high and low points of their days or weeks which may be impacted by multiple external factors such as poor sleep, a stressful job, interpersonal concerns, or grief. These experiences do not need to be stigmatized or described as a mental illness, as they are all normal parts of life.

The National Institute of Mental Health describes Bipolar Disorder or “Manic Depression” to be “characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone”.  These shifts in mood/activity are typically cyclical and have a pattern, and vary in severity from person to person.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can include but are not limited to:

Mania symptoms: Feeling very “up” or “high”, elated, or extremely irritable and on-edge.  Feeling more energetic or “wired”, more active than usual, a decreased need for sleep without feeling tired, speaking faster than usual about various topics, or having racing thoughts. An excessive/increased interest in more pleasurable or risk-taking activities (i.e. sex, drugs/alcohol, spending, gambling, driving recklessly, etc.), or having an inflated self-image such as feeling more talented, powerful or important than usual (grandiosity). 

Depressive symptoms: Feeling down, depressed, or sad. Feeling more restless, anxious, or fatigued. Trouble sleeping or unable to sleep (insomnia), or sleeping too much (hypersomnia), feeling more hopeless, worthless, or having suicidal thoughts. Forgetfulness, trouble concentrating or making decisions. More withdrawn or isolated from friends/family, trouble functioning or going to work/completing daily tasks.

If you think you may be experiencing a number of these symptoms, please know that help is available & recovery is possible. Feel free to reach out to ETHOS Treatment (267-669-0300) to schedule a comprehensive evaluation to determine a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendation. From medication management to various forms of therapy, Bipolar Disorder does not have to define who you are or how you function.

If you ever feel hopeless or suicidal, please call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.

The Origins of Empathy

The Origins of Empathy

I always wanted a career that would help people. As a child, my dream was to be a doctor. I wanted to learn how to eradicate ailment and increase joy. Suffering disturbed me at an age before I was exposed to an understanding of true pain. This naiveté shattered during my freshman year of college. After a tumultuous first term and a much needed holiday break, I headed back to school hoping things would get better. As days went by, my mental health began to decline. I stopped eating most meals and began to sleep nearly 12 hours every night. The seemingly simple task of attending class and completing assignments grew to be impossible. My day to day functioning decreased so rapidly I knew I needed help. But having never experienced these feelings before, I was unsure what to do. As I scrolled through Instagram, I felt ashamed and alone that I was struggling so much while everyone else appeared to be living out the “best days of their lives” in college.

This struggle with my mental health reached a breaking point when I realized I would not pass the semester if I stayed in school. In my gut I knew I needed to take some time to figure out these feelings of anxiety and sadness. Three weeks after the start of term, I made the decision to take a personal leave from my dream school. I packed up and moved home and faced the most humbling Winter of my life. During my unexpected off term, I worked as a barista and saw a therapist for the first time in my life. When I was in high school, I thought there was something embarrassing about going to therapy because it meant you could not handle life on your own. Now, I realize that no one goes through life without help and therapy (with the right therapist) is an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself and work through challenges with an experienced professional.

In therapy and working and spending time with my family and close friends, I began to get better and feel strong enough to return to school. But during this time, I was not the only person in my family who was struggling. We thought my little brother was a typical teenage boy – experimenting with substances, getting caught, and getting grounded only to get caught again. But the situation eventually took a turn for the worse. Midway through his junior year, my brother dropped out of high school and spun into a hole of depression and addiction.

Drug use is taboo and stigmatized in the eyes of some whose lives are untouched by addiction. But the moment substances entangle someone you care deeply for, judgment flies out the window. All that matters is keeping your loved one alive. Many naive to the world of addiction have the false perception that sobriety is linear. With my brother, I learned that the struggle to be clean never goes away completely. Survivors of substance abuse often share that the work of healing and rebuilding continues even after remaining sober for decades. Thankfully, after years of hard work, the support of caring loved ones and professionals and many moments of pain and fear, my brother is alive and healthy. Still, as many people impacted by addiction know, our family recovery continues – we take life one day at a time and focus on gratitude that our loved one is safe and well.

My family’s journey with addiction and my own mental health struggles have reshaped my view of the world. I now look on people walking through substance abuse and mental health journeys with understanding and empathy. My experiences have given me a heart for those who struggle to make it through each day. Watching my brother face demons and fight to remain on this earth, I stopped wanting to be a doctor. Instead, I wanted to be a therapist so I could support people who suffered in silence, to help those with struggles unknown to the rest of the world.

The field of substance use and mental health treatment attempts to intercede the pain of addiction and mental illness and presents the opportunity to heal in the face of hopelessness. As anyone who has struggled with addiction or mental illness knows, there are sufferings in this world that are too difficult to speak. But when a fellow human being looks at you and tells you they can understand your pain, that they have been through a similar experience, the suffering somehow becomes bearable. Honesty, empathy and human connection become the first steps to healing.

Treating Addiction: A Family Approach

Treating Addiction: A Family Approach

When someone we love is battling addiction, the impact on our life can be immeasurable. An approach to treating an addicted person that includes family education and support is a pathway to full family healing—a goal we can all get behind.

Utilizing evidence-based models of therapy for both the individual with substance use disorder and the people who love them can bring everyone into the world of recovery. In active addiction we often reference that all who sit at our kitchen table are impacted. Our goal in recovery is for everyone at that table to move toward a healthier place.

At times there can be resistance to this from various members of the family, which is understandable due to the pain experienced in active addiction. There is no singular path for each loved one, which challenges treatment providers to have a patient, multi-faceted approach to working with families.

The team at Ethos Treatment has committed to continued focus on the family. We believe that when the family grows and heals, the pathway to recovery for our addicted person can become clearer.

Shame can be one of the largest barriers to recovery for everyone involved. For the person battling addiction, sharing with family members what we are going through takes courage, as does building a support system. Meaningful recovery is obtained through many moments of exhibiting courage we never knew we owned.

The Ethos team encourages all involved to join us in the work of reducing the stigma and shame so often associated with addiction, one family at a time.

Be well,
Pat Brown, LCSW

A Summer of Firsts

A Summer of Firsts

For those entering their first summer in recovery this time of year brings about challenges that are not necessarily unique, but require attention. Picnics, time spent poolside, summer vacations, weddings, and even yard work are some of the items that fill our calendars for the next couple of months. Navigating these for the first time has been daunting for everyone in recovery.

The adage of “people, places, and things” gets ramped up in the summer months as nice weather avails for more social occasions on our calendar. In early recovery we face these with the pressure of owning our story of recovery appropriately with those we see, understanding potential situations that induce cravings, creating a safety net in our planning, all while balancing our fear of missing out. Understanding our new reality in recovery is a key to our ability to not only make it through, but to thrive in our new life. While this is daunting, there are millions who have paved the way, and the most successful lived this out loud. Sharing their fears, concerns, and excitement with their support system through it all.

If this is your first summer in recovery—what’s the plan? Who are you connected to in terms of professional care and support in your community? Strength through this period of your recovery comes in numbers—numbers of appointments on your calendar with your therapist, number of meetings you plan to make, number of sober supports you have in your phone, and number of times you execute the courage to let all of these things work for you.

Let’s have our best summer yet. We got you.

Be well,
Pat Brown