Since opening in 2010, Shardale has been a haven for adults struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction in the United Kingdom. Through the use of what is known at Shardale as Choice Theory, clients are asked to look at what they can control in their lives and what they can’t, and to take responsibility for their behavior—something they learn that they can, ultimately, control.
Shardale operates two residential homes north of the city of Manchester, with a total of 65 beds, in the towns of Bury and Lytham St. Anne’s. Both of these residences are co-ed facilities, and both are long-term housing: clients usually stay for about nine months. Social service councils refer many clients but others come to Shardale of their own volition and are self-funded. The Bury location is primarily for alcoholics, whereas the Lytham St.Anne’s residence is for alcoholics and drug addicts.
Residents in Bury share a slightly worn looking townhouse, though the indoors are clean and cared for. The relaxation area in the house is full of black leather couches and red beanbags. There are 29 beds and 18 bedrooms in the house. New clients share rooms and as they progress in the program are promoted to single occupancy rooms. Bury is the closest of the three Shardale locations to the Manchester city center, about 30 minutes away.
The house in Lytham St. Anne’s is the largest residential treatment facility in Northwest England, with beds for 36 clients. It is also the more scenic and attractive of the two residences, just two blocks from the Irish Coast. The house is gabled fieldstone, a bigger and more impressive-looking place than the Bury residence. There is a stained glass window on the staircase—it has the feel of a bed-and-breakfast. Clients share furnished rooms with twin beds. There are dressers provided for storage, but not a terrible amount of living space in the bedrooms. A living room downstairs with hardwood floors has stiff black couches and a big television.
Treatment and Staff
Clients at both houses have almost identical schedules. Group therapy begins at 9:30 am and runs, with breaks for meals, until 8 pm. For several hours in the morning, after breakfast, clients have a “Journals” group, followed by a collective cleaning of the residence and a long lunch from noon until 2 pm. Late afternoon groups rotate between Choice Theory, relapse prevention, educational lectures, focus groups and life skills groups. In Choice Theory group, clients discuss how they are responsible for their choices and talk about setting goals and how they can prevent self-sabotage. Relapse prevention focuses on triggers and continuing care plans for after treatment. In focus groups, clients hear one another’s individual stories and discuss interpersonal challenges. Life skills groups cover the gamut of adult life: money management, cooking, shopping, job hunting, sex education.
Groups are periodically gender-specific. Counselors lead women’s groups in discussions about domestic violence and abuse, and men’s groups in discussing healthy relationships. The amount of individual therapy Shardale clients have is up to them and their treatment team, and the type of therapy they receive is also their choice. There are four types of therapy Shardale offers: EMDR, Person Centered, Integrative, and CBT. Following afternoon group and a community meeting, clients have tea from 5 pm to 6. The final group of the day, from 7 to 8 pm, is psychoeducation. There is a bundle of 84 pre-prepared lectures that Shardale cycles through so long-term clients won’t hear the same topic again for a couple months at a time. After 8 pm, clients have down time until lights out at 11:30. Weekends are less jam-packed and approved visitors are allowed to see clients on Saturdays from 1 pm to 6. Every other Friday and Saturday night is a movie night at the house, and Sunday there is a “Quiz night.”
Clients organize group outings with staff based on their preferences, as long as the outings aren’t wildly expensive. In the past, clients have gone bowling, fishing, to the movies, to sports centers, to do arts and crafts and for beauty therapy.
Shardale is a program for people who want to be part of a community. This is definitely not a one-and-done program, just as sobriety is not a one-and-done task. And even setting aside the longer duration of this program, the weekly schedule is set up so that clients and staff spend many hours of each day together—in groups and meetings, at meal times, on outings. Shardale’s is not a 12-step approach, but Choice Theory has a lot to do with the basic concept of the Serenity Prayer: figuring out what one can control and then finding the courage to change.
3 Fleet St
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