By: Brandy Harris, MA, LMHC-I
Intensive Outpatient Program Manager
I have been at The Refuge Transitions since May of 2012. We work with individuals from all walks of life; some have experienced multiple treatments, some are stepping down from residential treatment, and others are coming to us for treatment for the first time. A common connection between many of these individuals is how they find ways to heal. The work these clients do allows them to take the power back from what they have experienced, rewrite their stories, and create a support network.
“Take the power back” is something I say to many of my clients when they wonder about the purpose of an assignment or directive. The way this happens is through connecting to a past experience, sharing that with a group or clinician, and having a witness who validates what an individual has been through. Sometimes this is through an assignment or it may be through a verbal prompt that leads to sharing. Many people experience trauma and haven’t been able to grasp the energy is steals from them. Experiencing the validation from others can be life altering. As a clinician, we help keep the client connected with what they are sharing and then transformation can take place.
Rewriting our stories can involve changing the meaning of past events by finding the lessons and strength in them. This can be a literal rewriting of a story through an assignment, or bringing experiences full circle through resiliency and connection with others. Sharing our stories with other individuals can be healing for all involved.
Support networks are unique to the individual. After taking power back from our histories and changing the meaning of our past experiences, we find that we have a group of individuals who have really seen us and can become our new healthy system of support. There is always hope that this group of people will include our family of origin; however, in healing we can also create a tribe for ourselves where blood relation is not a prerequisite.
Witnessing clients reconnect the dots in their lives from a negative picture to a positive one energizes me as a clinician and as a human being. I am able to create an environment where this is possible at The Refuge Transitions. Our stories make us dynamic. When we become empowered through rewriting these stories and connecting with others, the healing creates a beautiful picture.