Why a “program orientation” instead of rolling admissions when space is available?

We quickly discovered that when we open the program, desperate patients call repeatedly with one burning question: “When do I see a doctor to get a script?” We now prefer to admit people to our program after they have attended a free “Program Orientation” which we put on and publicize when we have room to admit a cohort of 10-12 new participants. We often schedule this orientation on a Friday evening at 5:00pm to test the early motivation of those who wish to enter treatment.

The hour long orientation provides the platform to thoughtfully and honestly introduce ourselves. We start the  therapeutic relationship by sharing who we are, how we came to this place in our thinking and beliefs, and what we have to offer those wishing to recover from opioid addiction. We believe this model of sharing our point of view, from the start, defines recovery as a relational journey together.

We want prospective new members to meet the recovery program staff, the behavioral health staff and their provider who can answer any questions. In short, we provide an Orientation as an effective way “to check each other out,” and get a sense if this relationship has the potential to be mutually productive. We also can be honest about the reality that we will not help every person, but have been inspired and delighted that we have helped many.

How do you record your recovery group notes in the medical record?

Therapists use a group note template that includes the date, number of participants, topic of group, summary quote from program member, and note if a relapse with what substance has occurred. See below for an example from our electronic medical record (Athena).

In the Recovery Program

Patient was seen on _____ for a 90 minute group session. There were _____ participants present. Patient is cognitively appropriate for group therapy. The patient has the capacity to understand, participate and benefit from treatment.

The group topic was __________. Goals were discussed to achieve a solid, abstinent, recovery.

The patient’s contribution to today’s intervention was:

The group responded: [drop down box]

  • positively; or
  • negatively

The patient reported: [drop down box]

  • remaining abstinent; or
  • relapsing drug used identified

Follow-up in 1 week for ongoing Recovery Group Therapy services for behavior modification and maintenance in relapse-risk reduction.