Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process – Part 4

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Most rescue recovery programs for homeless addicts have no trouble filling up their beds. Yet, it is better to have a smaller program with committed participants than to have a large one filled with people who are not serious about changing their lives. A well-organized long-term recovery program is — “A planned, organized, and systematic delivery of services — using both internal and external resources– with the goal of meeting the unique needs of each individual.”

A 30-day “pre-program” can be instituted to serve as a trail period where prospective program members can demonstrate their commitment to recovery. Inevitably, this approach will promote stability in the long-term program by avoiding the turmoil that occurs when men and women come and stay for just a few days or weeks. A more consistent, serious group of people who can support one another on the road to recovery will surely develop.

So, what are some of the essentials of an effective long-term program? Let me offer a simple definition. A well-organized long-term recovery program is:

“A planned, organized, and systematic delivery of services — using both internal and external resources– with the goal of meeting the unique needs of each individual.”

Let’s look at the basic elements of this definition:

    A. Planned, organized, and systematic delivery of services — Without good planning, rescue mission programs can experience real problems. For instance, in too many cases, the specifics of the long-term program have been based upon personalities instead of established policies. So, from year to year, as staff members change so does the program — often in radical ways! While staff members must be free to tweak and improve the program, top management must establish the essentials through well-thought out policies and hire accordingly. These policies answer questions such as; Are the 12 Steps used? Do we use secular support groups? What is our core curriculum? When do program members begin outside jobs? When can they date? And so forth.

    B. Using both internal and external resources — The most effective services are provided when we understand the capabilities that staff members bring to the table. Knowing their unique skills, specialized training, and special gifts allows us to work with clients using a team approach. While every person in the program needs a primary counselor, good programs bring other team members in to work with their clients on those areas where they need special help. Additionally, to truly meet the needs of those who participate in our long-term programs, we have to look for resources outside of the mission. The best approach to making such referrals is to make those individuals and agencies as much a part of the recovery team as possible. This means lots of communication with them before and after they work with our clients.

    C. The goal of meeting the unique needs of each individual — Does everyone in your program get at least one hour of one-on-one counseling or case management each week? If not, your program is understaffed! In which case, you need to hire more people or reduce the number of people in the program. We cannot begin to meet the needs our clients if we do not spend the time that is needed to really get to know them. This begins with a thorough intake process that makes use of forms and questionnaires that enable us to identify their unique needs and challenges. And, as long as they remain in the program, we must maintain an accurate written record that documents their progress in meeting their individual goals and objectives.

With this last thought in mind, our next installment will deal with the issue of creating and updating a simple written recovery plan that can be used by rescue mission counselors and chaplains.

For downloadable forms and other helpful information for creating recovery plans, see the Guide to Effective Rescue Mission Recovery Programs

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5