A Journey Through Healing: PJ’s Virtual IOP Experience with Charlie Health – Week 1

All of us, at some point or another, seek a sanctuary—a space where emotions, vulnerabilities, and trauma find both voice and solace. My 12-year-old son, PJ, is no different. But before we delve deep, a little side note – PJ, in his typical teenage candor, granted me permission to share this story, remarking on how ‘cringe’ it might be.

Charlie Health: A Portal to Healing

Picture this: a virtual realm offering intensive outpatient programs (IOP) – a sanctuary for teens grappling with the tumultuous tides of mental health. That’s Charlie Health. Though the price tag varies with insurance, the essence remains unchanged: therapy sessions spanning weeks, addressing the myriad shades of teen struggles.

virtual iop Charlie Health

Week 1: First Footprints

Our first foray into the world of Charlie Health started one evening, shrouded in ambiguity and cautious optimism. PJ, unaware of the agenda, was simply briefed about the possibility of us finding a suitable therapist. I tread lightly with my words, acutely aware of the harm that unfulfilled promises could inflict.

The intake session was a revelation. An hour of candid conversation unfolded between PJ and the case manager. While it initially appeared PJ didn’t fit the typical mold for an IOP candidate, God had other plans. As the narrative of our tumultuous past five years unraveled, the case manager recognized the profound layers of trauma embedded in our story. Against the initial odds, doors began to open. Within a day, our insurance was greenlit, and by evening, PJ was poised for his inaugural session.

Navigating this new chapter with Charlie Health was akin to venturing into unknown territory. While the rapid progression may initially seem impulsive, in retrospect, it was undoubtedly a defining stride forward. As PJ’s first day of sessions dawned, imagine my relief when he willingly participated! The initial vibes might have felt a tad sales-y, but the post-session transformation was undeniable.

The very next morning, in a moment that felt nothing short of miraculous, he voluntarily got dressed for school — a task that, for weeks, had been the catalyst for tears and daily heartaches. A simple “hello” to his grandmother, previously absent from their daily interactions, marked another significant breakthrough.

And as the weekend rolled in, a delightful transformation became evident: a budding relationship with his big brother. Once unable to share a room without tension and arguments, they now shared spaces and moments, with their desks aligned for joint gaming sessions.

These subtle yet profound shifts, simple in their essence, projected rays of hope for the journey ahead. I found myself silently whispering a prayer of gratitude: “Thank you, God… I know you’re working”.


Despite the ups and downs, PJ’s journey with Charlie Health remains a testament to healing, resilience, and the boundless depths of a mama’s love. Here’s to hope, growth, and many more updates in this series.

Informational Resources

For those unfamiliar with trauma’s intricacies, I highly recommend this insightful piece on trauma-informed care. And if you’re keen to dive deep into what an IOP like Charlie Health entails, here’s a comprehensive overview.

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