Instructor Responses to Week 1 Homework (Wellness and Recovery Promotion)

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    Kristen Erickson
    Keymaster

    Wellness and Recovery Promotion in Behavioral Health Services

    Week 1 Instructor Responses to the Homework

    I deeply appreciate your responses to the homework, which demonstrate that you are using the reading and exercises to support your own personal, as well as professional explorations of what wellness and recovery promotion is and how you might align yourselves with its principles and practices.

     1) What are your general reactions to the mindful writing? What were some of the personal resources, skills, and abilities you relied on to help you through a difficult experience in your life?

    Some of you found the writing exercise enjoyable. For example Amy mentioned, “I enjoyed the mindful writing exercise. I have heard about the importance and benefits of mindful or free writing and oftentimes thought I should try it, but never did until this homework assignment. I was surprised by how quickly the time I set aside to write went by. . . I appreciated this exercise as I will be more likely to have discussions with clients about their own resiliency.”

    Some of you found that the mindful writing was challenging because it brought up feelings of being self-conscious, memories of difficult times, or it was too open-ended. These challenges are very common. It is important to recognize that this particular exercise may or may not be helpful in your own or your clients’ of narratives of resilience. That’s okay.

    The non-judgmental container fostered by the mindful writing experience is much like the open consciousness of many forms of meditation. What arises in this space can be both pleasurable and unpleasurable. The key is to allow whatever to arise, notice it, then return to the process of writing freely whatever thoughts arise.

    Some of the resources and skills you describe to meet the discomfort that arose in the writing exercise included checking your thinking with others and focusing your attention on moving forward and finding meaningful experiences.

    When we enter into this mindful space of non-judgmental curiosity, we not only discover difficult memories, but we can also uncover preferred narratives of resilience and the resources and skills that can help us respond in meaningful ways to life’s adversity.

    2. What are some of the ways the questions and or the mindful writing helped you uncover your narrative of resilience?

    Amy commented that the mindful writing and Trumpet Daffodil story helped her uncover her narrative of resilience. She wrote: “The story about the daffodils was pretty powerful for me. It is not my job to “fix” or solve every problem a client experiences. Instead, my role is to make the path easier for them by helping to clear out the obstacles in the way of their being and doing whatever it is they are meant to be and do. I think this shift in my perspective takes pressure off of me too.

    In my own experience as a psychotherapist, I have found that learning to refrain from the impulse to “fix” others’ discomfort has been a skill and resource that has prevented burnout. This shift in perspective has been an ally in the development of a counter-narrative to the pressure of insurance companies and managed care policies that are actually geared toward “fixing” others.

    And Robin noticed that “it takes strength and courage to do the work we do and care for ourselves.” Strength and courage are linked to resilience and how resilience is expressed in our lives.

     3. How might you apply the Narrative questions and or mindful writing in your work with others to help them uncover a neglected story of resilience in their lives?

    Many of you discovered that the mindful writing could be a useful exercise in your work with others to help them uncover neglected stories of resilience. For example, Jayme noted, “I see that the mindful writing could be a good tool to activate a more positive story that can come out of a difficult time. I see this as particularly helping in working with the clients we serve especially because of the amount of stigma associated with chronic substance use disorders. . . The ability to shift and see the positive parts of their story allows them to see themselves in a more positive light lending itself to opportunities for a stronger self in recovery.” Robin commented, “Moving forward this experience can be user with others to showcase that whole plans change, people have the ability to move forward and make each new and perhaps unexpected experience meaningful.” Tld1964 remarked, “I have often used mindful writing in my work as a substance abuse counselor When I worked in residential, I had the residents write a good bye letter to their drug of choice. It was very powerful.” And Robin wrote: “I can apply this narrative to my work in a variety of ways, I work with folks going and old who are nearing the end of their lives to do with takes strength and often times a need to look at ones life and finish what’s unfinished, said what is unsaid, do what is not yet done.”

    Thank you all for your thoughtful reflections on the homework exercises and questions. I encourage you to use these principles to inform your own work with others.

    In Class 2 we will explore a strengths based approach to behavioral health services.

    Patricia

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