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The Role of Therapist In Recovery

Dr. Marc Bono, Psy. D. Primary Therapist

One of the unique things about Turnbridge is the number and variety of persons that make up the support system of Turnbridge clients. From case manager, support staff, sponsor, house manager, activities coordinator, family liaison, friends, and (through the relationship with Center for Change), therapist and psychiatrist, the level of support is both comprehensive and unique, giving clients the best chance at completing treatment and maintaining sobriety. The therapist can provide a unique contribution to the “recovery team”. Addiction does not exist in a vacuum. Mental health issues can have many relationships to addiction including being predisposing (existing prior to drug addiction creating an increased vulnerability) and perpetuating factors (mental health symptoms can worsen substance use and vice versa). Therapists can help identify and refine mental health diagnosis, clarify the relationship between substance and mental illness as well as educate both clients and family members around these issues. Of course, the therapist can be a resource for case managers and other Turnbridge staff members. Because Turnbridge works to individualize the services provided, therapists can work as a team with Turnbridge staff to modify goals and approaches and identify barriers to success. Sometimes the therapist can assist in determining what behaviors are influenced by underlying mental health issues and how to most effectively provide support to clients.

The opportunity to meet with a therapist over the course of ten to twelve months (average length of stay at Turnbridge is close to eleven months) is a luxury most persons do not have in recovery. The therapeutic relationship that can develop over the course of a year can provide an anchoring point to develop increased awareness (or insight), motivation in recovery and to help expand the number effective coping mechanisms that clients use in relapse prevention. The nature of the Turnbridge program is such that growth develops though meeting challenges. As a client moves through these challenges the therapeutic relationship can help clients persevere through these milestones in treatment. Recently a case manager reminded one of his clients going through one such challenge that “growth and change come slowly and sometimes painfully”. It is at these times when a long standing, trusting, caring, non-judgmental relationship can provide an anchor point for self-examination and renewed determination. The nature of the therapeutic relationship combined with confidentiality allows for disclosure, venting, receptiveness to feedback and evaluation of new ways of thinking and behaving.

Each person benefits in a somewhat unique manner in therapy. What is critical is that factors that predispose and/or perpetuate the cycle of addiction are identified, understood and alleviated in some way. At times these factors are specific mental health symptoms and many times they are broader issues such as poor self-worth, guilt and shame or intimacy issues. Therapists can provide a complimentary set of skills to the other recovery member teams and add something pivotal to the recovery process. The key to the therapist’s success in bringing value to the recovery process is a strong engagement with their clients. The relationship between clients and AA or NA is similar in many ways….a non-judgmental, collaborative, compassionate, genuine relationship is what draws recovering persons to AA and NA and this also holds true for therapists. All of the therapists at Center for Change embrace this philosophy and in their unique way, deliver it to their clients.