This place is a microcosm of the shameful state of mental health care in America. It is hard to write about ‘Lifeskills’ of South Florida without evoking anger and revisiting the worst period of my life. Yet, it is my duty to do so, as objectively as possible, if it saves just one other vulnerable person.
Disclaimer: I hope those reading this review can set aside their potential biases of it been written by someone who struggles with depression (and possibly bipolar disorder). I am a professional who is not a criminal, does not abuse illicit substances, and is a contributing member of society with a large capacity to care for others. Hopefully, the eloquent and objective nature of this review will convince you of the legitimacy of my experience.
I was in their PHP program. My assigned therapist (who I was to see 1:1 only twice a week) was a young, smug, spindly little guy who inspired exactly zero confidence. I don’t know where he graduated from, but it’s an indictment of that educational institution. He never got to know me as an individual, never tailored sessions at all to my unique experience.
It appeared the facility had one psychiatrist who served the entire population. You got to see him for EXACTLY 5 MINUTES each week while he made snap decisions on how to alter drugs that affected your brain chemistry. Sounds adequate, right? There was literally a line of patients outside his door on those days.
Both the psychiatric and psychological aspects of PHP were almost negligible – the sessions were so infrequent and non-personalized that at best they make zero impact, at worst they contribute to a worsening of one’s condition.
The group sessions would almost be funny if they weren’t so pathetic and useless. There were a few where you got your classic CBT/DBT workbook that you could order off of Amazon and sat in a circle with other patients. Again, there was zero personalization and it was so cookie cutter. Some examples include a cooking class and a class on how to sell pretend products. No joke. Here I am a few months removed from running international clinical trials and I’m fake selling a toy phone to a recovering addict.
So, I’d show up and go through the motions while primarily being surrounded by addicts. The other patients were comprised of people with severe mental/mood disorders and/or people with dual diagnoses. Almost every class was interrupted and side-tracked by one of these people acting out. There were no like-minded professionals who were stuck in a terrible depression. Being in that environment only contributed to further deterioration of my condition. I would lay on the floor of the day room by myself and quietly cry some days, struggling with what I was going through while simultaneously feeling horribly selfish in that I couldn’t support my own mother who was dying at the time. The staff would just walk right past me.
Luckily I was just well-off enough at the time to absorb the financial hit. My insurance paid out in full, and likely even overpaid. Funny how quick and efficient this place is in hitting up your payer with a multitude of repetitive claims given how incredibly passive and ineffectual they are in treating their patients. I have refrained from using staff names so the place doesn’t have cause to remove my post but there is a truly horrendous person in their leadership who views the patients as dollar signs and has blatantly ignored me for over a year.
I am happy to report I am back in CA and building my life back. ‘Lifeskills’ delayed my recovery. It was a complete waste of time and money and could have easily contributed to another attempt on my life.
I am still battling to get the full refund of my up-front payment. It took 20-30 emails and a roughly equivalent number of phone calls to receive a partial return.
I open up this dark chapter of my life to hopeful benefit you. If you are reading this, know that you have value and things really can change. Please avoid exploitative facilities like this. I personally believe this place should be investigated and shutdown.