Doc Mary Underwood, administrator of Santa Ramona Valley General Hospital, hopes to tempt locals to join her new support group, which is open to anyone suffering from any affliction. From substance abuse, to fetishism, depression to loss, Doc Mary and her entire Psychological Team hope to help the hopeless find their way.
The first group session is planned at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, at Grateful Meds, the dispensary of choice in Santa Ramona Valley. Participants can talk about any issue, any problem, and can expect to get the group's feedback, rather than purely a therapist's view. Providing guidance will be Doc Mary and Dr. Dawn W. Rowe, a rising star in the Psychology Department.
"I see my role as a guide, to get the conversations started and help them remain on track," Doc Mary says. "The benefit of group therapy is feeling the support and camaraderie of the other group members."
Despite the anticipated open, frank nature of the discussions, participants should expect a fair measure of privacy. All are asked to use first names only and keep the details in the vault.
"The first rule of Fight Club, right," jokes Doc Mary, about the expectation of keeping silent on details. "You can expect to hear a lot of valuable perspectives from others, and hear information not meant for conversation at the bakery that afternoon. I believe everyone will respect the rules."
Additional benefits of the sessions, Doc Mary says, include education about patients' right to mental health services. Come with questions and an openness to sharing with others.
"Everyone in town is familiar with the face that greets them in the exam room or, preferably not, the ER. But I'm just the front line in the fight for health. The Psychology Department is a fundamental part of overall well-being and I hope to introduce them through this exercise, including Dr, Dawn W. Rowe. Dr. Rowe contributes so greatly to our mental health efforts day in and day out."
When asked whether the dispensary would be an appropriate setting for those with addictive personalities, Doc Mary laughed off the idea of the venue being anything other than ideal.
"Marijuana is proven to help with anxiety, which is a factor in much of what brings people to group therapy. If it is not the chief issue, it can be a symptom or a result of whatever the individual is trying to cope with. I cannot think of a more appropriate environment than Grateful Meds."
For more information about the group therapy session, contact Dr. Mary Underwood.
*Editor's note: The writer of this article has an ownership stake in Grateful Meds. But it's still the best dispensary ever. Try the brownies.