Reply To: Homework Week 4 (Wellness and Recovery Promotion)

Diana James

I was deeply moved by Stephanie’s story, humbled by her courage, articulation, intelligence, and compassion. I have discovered that there is more useful, pertinent, and compassionate information in all the Ted Talks I watch.I have had many clients in my private practice who have shared similar narratives about the pathologizing culture we live in-many marginalized by the medical community, most suffering in silence-or worse, further traumatized by the system.

I have worked with Peer Supports for over 26 years, and know it to be a viable, supportive network for anyone who chooses to connect to these supports. My personal and professional values are echoed in the Peer Support system. I have often been very frustrated by being “nudged/ pressured” to come up with a diagnosis to satisfy insurance/ for billing requirements. I have been appalled by Agency policies to “diagnose” someone after 1 or 2 sessions-again to meet the Medical/ Pathologizing model-mostly for Billing requirements. This has been very challenging when my clinical foundation is Person -centered, Narrative-solution-focussed.I have always worked with my clients to not think of themselves as a “walking alphabet label” (many of my clients are referred with 4-5 diagnoses attached to them)-which often makes them believe they are the Diagnosis, not the person who is struggling with a bx or symptom.

Before I make referrals to any community support, I always make connections myself by going to AA meetings, or community, Church gatherings-so that I have a sense of what they are like. I network with other colleagues, to learn about new resources.If I have made a connection with someone at a particular support place, I will personally call that person, in front of my client (with client’s permission) and introduce, or set up the appt, so that I can follow up later in week.Sometimes, when appropriate(E.G-DV support group) I have gone with my client to a meeting, to help ease the way.

This has been a wonderful training. This has been very educational, and I feel more hopeful about where Behavioral Health is moving, than I have in many years. I see changes happening in my own practice and Agency-a broadening of understanding of how we help support individuals who come to us for guidance and support. I have always seen my role as empowering client’s to take ownership of/ and responsibility for their own recovery.