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The Heart of our Family Support Services

Meet Carissa

Carissa Muth has worked with Sunshine Coast Health Centre in a number of capacities over the years ranging from Primary Counsellor to her more recent title of Family Support Liason. She has worked on and offsite, offering alumni support meetings and counselling sessions in Calgary and hosting the SCHC Family Weekend both in Powell River and Calgary.

I can’t help but feel Carissa’s passion for what she does at SCHC while she walks me through her roles and responsibilities, and ultimately her belief in SCHC’s philosophy. She has a certain excitement for the programs she is a part of and obviously is very invested in the success of each and every alumni and family member she works with. 

Post-Treatment Care and Support

I hoped to get an in-depth understanding of the continued care for the alumni of SCHC. As I understood it, any client who reaches alumni status by completing treatment at SCHC has a range of services and supports that are available to them upon their return home. I’ve learned that the exemplary level of care our clients experience while at SCHC continues on for life.

Part of the program offers counselling upon their return home which helps clients assimilate back into their home life while still checking in with the progress they have worked so hard to make. Oftentimes, Carissa will fulfill these sessions in her Calgary office. With the familiarity and bonds made, shes a comfortable choice for many alumni. There are also alumni support meetings hosted in most major cities across Canada on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. The frequency is determined based on the needs and feedback of each city’s support group.

Carissa in the past hosted the Calgary-based meetings, they meet bi-weekly with approximately 10-15 people per week. There is a level of camaraderie and brotherhood fostered in these groups. Offering a platform for everyone to speak their truths and help each other through the process. This level of continued care and support is not often seen among most treatment centres and Carissa explains this is a bit of a narrow-sighted approach. These post-treatment services let us support the client’s whole family system upon returning home through a safety net of initial daily and weekly check-ins. We know this has made the difference for many of our clients in maintaining their sobriety and well-being. 

Stronger Together – The Family Weekend

Creating a sustainable family system starts by getting everyone on the same page. There are a lot of opinions and viewpoints when it comes to addiction. Without one common narrative and approach, boundaries are often blurred or crossed, creating friction in the system. It is essential that a strong family bond is built while exploring recovery. That’s where SCHC’s Family Services comes in. Family Weekend is a 3-day workshop hosted every month, alternating between Powell River and Calgary. Clients’ families are invited to participate in group therapy and programming, making for an intensive weekend.

Offering support to the whole family system has proven to be beneficial: if someone in the system is not coping well the client will struggle by distraction. The Weekend starts with discussing addiction based on current research and the beliefs of the faculty at SCHC. This allows family members and clients to have a cohesive understanding of addiction and treatment. This is the foundation for the other topics covered throughout the program, including healthy relationships and boundaries: what it looks like to support your loved one without rescuing them. Managing a return to use (e.g. relapse) is also a key topic. Family members learn how to manage expectations and cope with the reality of what recovery can look like.

During the Weekend, families share their stories and feelings all while healing and learning together in a group setting. There is real comfort gained from hearing the stories of other families who are struggling in similar ways. With a community being built in the span of only a few days, families return home with a healthier perspective on addiction and recovery. Again, healing the whole family system rather than one piece of the it offers a sense of connectedness and longevity. 

Carissa anticipates a continued rich community of families banding together to continue on in the journey their loved one began at SCHC. As she transitions into her role full-time she can now focus more on her relationships with the families of our clients and look into the potential of expanding the program.

Update

At the time of writing in February 2020, COVID-19 had not been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In response, all in-person alumni and family sessions have been postponed until further notice. In the interim, we have been offering virtual and phone sessions for alumni and family, including an online course for family members and virtual streaming of SCHC client workshops and meetings for alumni. Interested in knowing more? Give us a call at 1.866.487.9050.

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