When Patricia Wallace meets new clients, they’re often at rock bottom, broken and compelled into treatment by the legal system or family ultimatums. Many of them have been through treatment before, and do not expect this stint in rehab to help change their lives.
The most important thing that Wallace can do is help these patients establish hope for their future. As a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and the clinical director at Soba College Recovery, a treatment program for young adults in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Wallace has guided many clients to connect with hope for the future and find motivation to engage with treatment.
Here’s how she does it:
Building on Whatever Scrap of Hope Clients Have
Many clients at Soba College Recovery have come to treatment through no choice of their own. However, Wallace has learned that even when they are in treatment because of external motivators, clients often have a small amount of hope that can be utilized to kickstart treatment.
“If someone is present in a treatment center there’s some level of hope within them, even if it’s not internally motivated completely,” she says.
Wallace works with clients to identify what motivated them to come to Soba College Recovery, and to expand upon that. Sometimes, that motivation is as simple as obeying a court order or meeting the conditions of their parole. No matter what, it gives the treatment staff at Soba College Recovery a starting point to work with the client.
Bringing the Family into Treatment
At Soba College Recovery, the family program is an important part of treatment. Many people with substance use disorder have hurt their family members emotionally or even physically. This can leave clients feeling embarrassed and guilty. However, seeing that family members are still willing to help them get sober is a huge motivating factor, Wallace says.
“A lot of times family can touch the heart way more than a treatment professional can,” she said. “Mom is still going to love you no matter what you did. Knowing that serves as huge ways to move somebody toward greater hope.”
Sometimes, families are cautious to engage in the treatment process, especially if this is not the client’s first time in treatment. In these cases the staff at Soba College Recovery keeps the family updated about the client’s progress, in order to help them find hope that this time in treatment might be different.
“As families being to see the person making strides, staying drug free on day-to-day basis, families start gaining hope that this could be the time the person gets it,” Wallace says.
Clearing Away Barriers
Clients often come in with a host of complicating factors that can make it hard to picture a functional future. Not only have many young adults dropped out of school or lost their jobs, but they often have debt, legal consequences or lost identifications that can make planning for the future overwhelming.
At Soba College Recovery, staff work with clients to address whatever logistical barriers are keeping clients from returning to a healthy, functioning life.
“We start to take small steps toward rectifying the wreckage of addiction, and that starts to build hope,” Wallace says.
Staff help clients write letters to court, set up payment plans with credit card companies, or get their license back. Although these are small steps, dealing with each one lifts a weight from clients, enabling them to focus on their recovery.
“Those are the types of issues that people come in with and think are completely insurmountable, and that can lead to hopelessness,” Wallace says.
All of these steps are part of building a client’s self-esteem, so that they know that they deserve and are capable of living a life in recovery. By working to slowly build confidence and giving clients more responsibility along the way, the treatment program at Soba College Recovery sets them up for success, in the short and long term.
“One victory builds another piece of hope, and then they’re getting themselves out of the rut,” Wallace says.