As we come to the end of September, National Recovery Month, I would like to share a few thoughts on how the Family Care Network views and approaches the Recovery process. Historically, recovery Month was associated with substance use disorder (SUD) – addiction recovery. Over time though, “Recovery” has grown to encompass a much broader arena. Recovery is synonymous with healing, well beyond addiction. Our organization works with all kinds of individuals and families in “Recovery.” Recovering from trauma, addiction, physical health issues, and broken relationships. Our mission, “to enhance the wellbeing…” could easily be restated to say, “to promote the healing” of children, youth and families."
What I find rather amazing about “Recovery,” is that it is a natural process. We are created with the capacity to heal! Our physical bodies are in the constant process of rejuvenating, healing and recovering. We cut ourselves, twist an ankle, or have surgery, and our bodies kick into Recovery mode. Emotional or mental injury seems to take much longer to repair or heal, but the healing process still takes place. It is important to remember that our physical and emotional default is to recover--to be whole and healthy! That should be encouraging in and of itself.
So, let’s review the very simple, but effective approach Family Care Network takes to promote Recovery.
First, everyone needs to have a support network and strong human connectivity. We are social beings and research has made it abundantly clear that people cannot thrive without social interaction. The same holds true for the Recovery, healing process. The more connected and supported someone is by other individuals, the greater their chance of recovery. Connecting with others, whether through human touch, conversation, or a shared interest, reinforces a sense of belonging and community. Connection helps us reduce negative thinking which comes from feelings of isolation and negative self-talk. Humans have a deep need to bond, and when they bond with family or a social group, feelings of happiness and endorphins in the brain increase. This, in turn, enhances and even stimulates the healing/repair process.
For over 30 years, an essential practice of our organization has been to ensure that our clients have a support network. In most cases they do, but they might not recognize it. Thus, it is our job to mobilize significant people in their lives to coalesce around our clients or families to support them through their “Recovery.” For Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice clients, by law it is required that they have a “Child and Family Team” composed of all of the significant individuals in their lives necessary to promote their healing. Our social workers and case managers are masters at orchestrating support networks, and making sure that this critical ingredient for Recovery is definitely in play.
Next, all recovery/healing takes Time. We all love the cliché, “time heals all wounds,” but not perfectly. For individuals who have experienced an extreme loss, research does attest to the healing nature of time. For most people, by 18 months post-loss, symptoms of acute grief, listlessness, pervasive sadness, lack of pleasure in life, anger, nightmares, insomnia, yearning, numbness, etc., have generally lessened greatly in severity. There are other considerations though about the process of time--every individual’s “time” is different.
It is not uncommon for situations to get worse before they get better. Thus, it is important to be patient when somebody is in recovery. Without proper support, interventions and help, some situations just don’t get better. That is why professional intervention and support is vital to Recovery. Time seems to go by very slowly, maybe feeling like an eternity for those experiencing pain, loss or trauma. It is essential to have treatment plans and interventions that accommodate an individual’s Recovery speed. We know from research and modern science that Trauma is timeless! Traumatic experiences are processed and stored as memories by the brain. When a traumatic memory surfaces – as they often do in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts and images, as far as the brain is concerned, they are happening right now. Family Care Network specializes in trauma Recovery and understands how to help people overcome the trauma they have experienced.
Third, it is absolutely essential that everyone embarking on Recovery is assisted by someone with the skill or experience to guide them through the process. My wife recently had major surgery with a long recovery period. Fortunately, she was supported by a team of doctors, nurses and peers who knew exactly what to do, what to say and what guidance to give. At FCNI, we are able to provide therapeutic and counseling interventions by individuals specifically trained in Recovery. We also use “Peer” Partners, individuals with similar experiences and success to help our clients navigate the healing, recovery process. Using highly trained and skilled professionals, combined with a strong support system produces excellent outcomes. In over 30 years of service to our community, we have achieved a 90%+ success rate--Recovery!
Finally, two of the most important ingredients in the formula for a successful Recovery are Resiliency and Hope. The late Nelson Mandela, one of the most respected individuals of our generation who faced and overcame incredible adversity, was famous for saying “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” In his Recovery process, he “got back up” time and time again on his journey from prison to President, until he was blessed to see the dismantling of the South African apartheid system.
Adversity, challenges and trauma don’t determine our life’s story--it is how we respond to them that provides our path forward. Yes, we can and will be changed by life circumstances, but we must not let them discourage or diminish us in any way. I believe we are all created with Resiliency built into the fabric of our persona. Resiliency is part of the healing process innate in all of us.
One of the most important interventions provided by Family Care Network is to actualize and stimulate the kernel of resiliency nestled in the hearts of the children, youth and families we serve. How do we do this? We give them Hope and the ability for them to see their own strengths and potential. One of the essential elements of our treatment philosophy is to “build on the strengths” of every individual we are privileged to serve. It is our job not to focus on their fall--but to be there to help them get back up again, however many times it takes!
This is the essence of Family Care Network Recovery: caring, loving support and connections; patience and the process of time; professional guidance, encouragement and counsel; and hope producing resiliency and inner strength. It is extremely heartening to know that in 30+ years our organization has helped over 30,000 individuals on their road to Recovery!
To take part in helping local children and families on their recovery journey, become a mentor, tutor, or foster parent today. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.