Bristol, Connecticut is more than home to ESPN’s corporate offices; it’s also home to the multi-service, 154-bed Bristol Hospital. Bristol Hospital Counseling Center is one facet of the Behavioral Health Unit, which has, since 1960, provided mental health and substance abuse recovery services to the Greater Bristol area. The Counseling Center offers treatment in the form of Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), regular outpatient and individual therapy for families, couples and adults. There is group therapy for dual diagnosis clients and a specific track for clients struggling strictly with chemical dependency. Bristol Hospital is just half an hour west of Hartford but it primarily serves locals from Bristol and neighboring towns.
Treatment and Staff
Clients at the Counseling Center are by no means required to detox through Bristol Hospital, but they have the option to. There are two detox units in Bristol Hospital for addicts: one in the Crisis Services unit, and one in the inpatient Behavioral Health unit. A client first comes into the emergency room, where a physician takes stock of symptoms before calling a crisis clinician, who determines whether the client meets criteria for the crisis unit. The crisis unit takes those with a history of delirium tremens or seizure or whose withdrawal puts them at great medical risk. The inpatient Behavioral Health unit admits clients presenting with less severe withdrawal symptoms. Medication, like Ativan or Valium, is often prescribed to mitigate pain for clients withdrawing from alcohol abuse. To be admitted, behavioral health inpatient clients must present with mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, as well as chemical dependence.
Bristol Hospital’s inpatient program is really more of an acute care unit; clients don’t tend to stay beyond a week. From this acute setting, they are most often referred to the Counseling Center for outpatient care, where they have the option of different levels of outpatient care: intensive and regular. IOP clients come to group three to five days a week and outpatient clients come to group therapy once a week. Most adults with severe chemical dependency come to group on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 pm. Licensed therapists facilitate these groups, which might number more than 20 people; during group, therapists sometimes break up the clients into smaller clusters to allow everyone the opportunity to fully participate. The recovery model Bristol Hospital uses is based on 12-step teachings. Clients explore their powerlessness in the face of addiction and learn how to prevent relapse.
Clients in IOP are especially encouraged to set up weekly individual therapy appointments; the frequency of one-on-one therapy for regular outpatient clients is completely tailored based on individual need. These outpatient clients are typically dual diagnosis; people who have mental health issues attendant to their chemical dependence. Bristol Hospital contracts a psychiatrist to monitor these clients especially. In addition to the psychiatrist, there are three full time therapists on staff in the outpatient setting, so the staff-to-client ratio is approximately one-to-six.
Counseling Center clients who experience mental health or other symptoms that require stabilization or more intensive treatment are able to use Bristol Hospital’s crisis center as a resource. Crisis staff may refer these clients to other agencies or to inpatient treatment programs.
While some outpatient programs are stacked with court-ordered clients, Bristol Hospital Counseling Center clients are by and large referred by physicians and healthcare professionals or are self-referred. Bristol Hospital Counseling Center works to provide the best treatment at the most reasonable cost by accepting most insurance, private and state, and offers its services on a sliding fee scale for those uninsured.
Bristol Hospital Counseling Center
420 North Main St
Bristol, CT 06010
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