Mood Lifters Offers A New Group Approach To Mental Wellbeing

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Imagine a group therapy format that is like a psychiatric version of a gym like Weight Watchers. That is the idea that Dr. Patricia Deldin got when she was sitting in a weight watchers one day, back in 2011.

“The way I think of it is there is bariatric surgery and there’s Weight Watchers. I don’t need to create bariatric surgery, that’s already there,” Dedlin said. “I’m creating the weight watcher’s mental health, essentially. There’s a lack of accessibility, affordability and acceptability.”

In addition to founding Mood Lifters,Deldin is a professor of psychology and psychiatry, and an Associate Director of the Depression Center at the University of Michigan. What Deldin is doing with her Ann Arbor-based center is designed to compliment traditional psychiatric counseling, and also provide a highly accessible alternative to one-on-one psychiatric care, which can run into hundreds of dollars an hour.

But for $13 per session, anyone who is struggling with depression or anxiety can take a 15 week course, to learn techniques to deal with these problems. Unlike traditional therapy, Mood Lifters sessions are led by one person who has already been through the program leads groups through weekly hour long sessions. Most of the work is done through homework assignments in the form of readings on psychological techniques to deal with negative emotions, establish positive emotions and ways of putting emotions into context to deal with the world in a more productive way.

“A lot of the things we discuss are just the human experience, that most of people have gone through and relate to,” Team Leader Teresa Kruse said.

Mood Lifters is being sponsored by numerous organizations around Southeastern Michigan. That includes both the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor Spark, a non-profit that promotes economic development and coordinates business entities to create jobs in Washtenaw County.

Ashley Schnaar, a youth mental health coordinator at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, said that the group size of up to 15 people worked well. She is currently taking one of the 15 week courses and is planning on applying to be a group leader when she is done.

“I think having a bigger group like that leads to more diverse groups,” Schnaar said. “We have different perspectives from people from all ages, professions, stages of life in our group of twelve. I think that really enhances the program.”

Groups can be specialized to meet certain mental well being needs. Kruse is leading a group at the moment that focuses on parents who have ill children for example. And in the near future, Deldin is planning on establishing versions of her outfit for kids, teenagers and for seniors.

Mood Lifters is located on Wagner Road. While these groups would normally meet in person, they are meeting over Zoom during the coronavirus era.

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