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Denise Bunner: Trauma yoga a game changer for veterans

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Every Thursday morning, a group of Veterans arrive at Bloom to take part in a weekly Yoga practice at BLOOM Collaborative.  This is not an ordinary yoga practice.  These veterans are taking part in a yoga practice that is specifically designed to address their symptoms of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual abuse.   These experiences can cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions.  The trauma can be a single event, multiple events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
Trauma can happen to anyone at any time. However, Veterans have a higher than normal range of PTSD symptoms.  While PTSD was not officially recognized by the Psychiatric community until 1980, Veterans coming back from serving in various areas of the world have been showing symptoms of this diagnosis for many years.  In the years since the diagnosis has been recognized, the trauma field has gone from obscurity, to become one of the most clinically innovative and scientifically supported specialties in mental health.  Trauma researchers have led the pack in setting off an explosion of knowledge about psychobiology and the interaction of body and mind.  

Since completing a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in June of 2015, it has been my desire to focus on the treatment of trauma through Yoga.  I have worked as a therapist for the past 20 years and have recognized the lingering effects of trauma in the lives of many of the clients I have worked with over the years.  I wanted to provide individuals who have experienced trauma with a different type of treatment, one that would help them to make a mind / body healing connection.

I have observed in traditional therapy sessions that there are times when the individual is stuck back in the time and place where the trauma took place, and sometimes, traditional talk therapy is just not helpful in getting a survivor of trauma past that moment. 
According to psychiatrist and noted PTSD expert Bessel Van Der Kolk, “Words can’t integrate the disorganized sensations and action patterns that form the core imprint of the trauma.  If you really want to help a traumatized person, you have to work with core physiological states and, then, the mind will start changing.”  

Van Der Kolk has been gaining the attention of the trauma community due to the approach he has taken in identifying different methods of alleviating the suffering endured by trauma survivors.  He has headed a team of researchers at the Trauma Center in Boston, Mass.  Their research is showing very promising results with Trauma Sensitive Yoga.  There are now published results that this form of yoga can significantly decrease the trauma symptoms that trauma survivors are experiencing in their bodies.

I took part in a 40 hour Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training at Kripalu Yoga Center in Stockbridge, Mass. this past March.  This program, this style of yoga and this training was developed at the Trauma Center and presented by David Emerson at Kripalu.  The class hosted approximately 50 students from all walks of life including yoga teachers, clinicians, social workers, and medical professionals.  These participants came from all over the world to participate in this innovative approach to helping survivors of PTSD.   I am honored and excited about offering Trauma Sensitive Yoga to the Veterans at Bloom on a weekly basis. 

Denise Bunner is the clinical supervisor for Stairways Behavioral Health's Forensic Outpatient Clinic.


AA Conference an eye-opening experience

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Stairways Behavioral Health residential program recently took part in what was, from all accounts, a meaningful field trip.

Residents of Gage House, a structured setting for people with substance and mental health issues, attended the Alcoholics Anonymous Erie Spring Conference at the Ambassador Center April 15-17.

Each year, the conference offers those in attendance the opportunity to hear renowned speakers, attend meetings and social events and share experiences with other attendees. Consumers were also able to exchange information for sponsors and support contacts.

Gage House residents were effusive in their praise of the event, citing the "sober dance" on Saturday night and the speakers as the most valuable parts of the conference.

Below are reflection excerpts by Gage House residents who attended the conference:

… I never laughed so hard when sober, then cried at the same time. I felt the same exact feelings, I’ve been in the same exact positions, lost the same things, lost family’s trust and broke promises to my daughter! I realized that I need to mature in so many ways, I need to not be selfish, I need to look at all angles, inside and outside the box, look at other people’s sides, put myself in their shoes and look through their eyes.

… I learned that addiction transcends age, race, nationality, sexual orientation and class. I also learned that I have been feeling sorry for myself. I have been justifying my drug use with the excuse of pain and anxiety. I see now that I am blessed in many ways.

… I do believe the program works! The speakers all had the same feelings, defects and struggles (to one extent or another) as me!

The stories confirmed my faith and gave me motivation. Let me know I’m on the right path. I’m so thankful I got to go with the Gage House. I loved every second.

… It is so awesome that you can meet people from all over and you can relate to their stories. The last day of the conference, I feel like I had the biggest breakthrough in my recovery process yet when I heard the second speaker. It was like she was telling my story. I am so blessed that I got to go to the conference, because I felt like I needed to be there to hear these speakers that touched my heart tremendously.

Tiffany Alvarez: What I learned about child trauma therapy

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"At the Meadville Outpatient Clinic there are two therapists who are providing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to children between the ages of 5 and 17. I have recently completed the process (10 hour website training, 2 day live/classroom training and a year of supervision calls) and am now a Certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.

Now I’m sure you’re asking what that is. Here is a brief run down:

It is an evidence based program focused on assisting children and their families overcome traumatic experiences. These traumatic experiences can include domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse/neglect, traumatic loss and natural disasters. The entire program from beginning of treatment to the end lasts no longer than 25 weeks (that’s the long end of the spectrum, usually can be completed in around 16-20). The program utilizes family therapy, behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy to assist both the child and the family overcome the traumatic event. It is broken down into the acronym PRACTICE.

P- Psychoeducation, information is given to family on their specific traumatic event, symptoms the child may be experiencing and how family can be supportive of the child through the process. Also works with the parents on behavioral strategies to address behavioral concerns from the child.

R- Relaxation techniques, assist the child in learning ways of self regulating through deep breathing, muscle tension/relaxation, coloring, stress balls- techniques are endless. It can be modified to meet the interests and needs of the specific child (mandalas have been a client favorite of mine since starting the program, parents really like them too).

AAffective Modulation, begins to help the child understand what their feelings are by identifying them, recognizing physiological changes, and intensity of emotions. Coping skills are taught to decrease intensity and frequency.

C- Cognitive Coping, begin to work with the child in identifying positive and negative thoughts and relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This section also addresses how to positively reframe negative or unhelpful thought patterns.

T- Trauma Narrative, the child, in their own words, tells the story of the traumatic event they have experienced. This is usually done through the writing of a story, but can be turned into a song, poem, text messaging, whatever helps the client feel comfortable in talking about what happened. This is very detailed, as detailed as they can be and included reframing the negative/unhelpful thought patterns as well as a piece on what they have learned and where they are today to instill hope of their future.

C- Conjoint parent/child sessions, this is done after the narrative so that the child may share their narrative with their support system (family, caregivers). Therapist works individually with family throughout duration of the program, teaching them the skills as their child learns them, assisting the parent/guardian to process through their own thoughts about the event (guilt, shame, thoughts of doing more, etc.)

E- Enhancing Personal Safety, education on personal safety skills, creating a safety plan with client and family and encourages future growth and positive development with relationships, using new skills to manage future stresses and trauma reminders as needed.

This program is a fun and interactive treatment modality for children as it uses a lot of play therapy techniques, bibliotherapy and art. I also like it because it can be easily adapted into your style of therapy. The components are structured, but how you give the information to the client is based on your own background. So since I also have an art background, I’m able to apply a lot of art into my sessions along with crafts (hand making stress balls, calm down bottles with glitter, etc.)

I have been using this program for a little over a year and a half with children and their families with good results. This isn’t an area I saw myself getting specialized in because its intimidating to work with a trauma victim, but I’m so glad I did. These sessions are some of my favorites and I look forward to them each week."

- Tiffany Alvarez,

Lead Therapist, Meadville Outpatient Clinic

Black History Month: Creating Awareness for Mental Health Needs in African-American Populations

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The following feature and written by Nick Kicior, Outcomes Director at Journey Health System, the support corporation of Stairways Behavioral Health. As we enter Black History Month, Kicior provides compelling reminders for the importance of doing what we can to make ourselves knowledgeable and easily accessible to assist with the issues impacting the African American community.

As we continue to provide individualized, quality care to all of our consumers and their families, it is extremely critical that we become proficient with many diagnoses, environments and, ultimately, cultures. As we look to celebrate diversity and promote ourselves as safe, healing, and empathetic practitioners of recovery, learning more and more about the people and places around us becomes imperative.

Black History Month is an integral part of our nation’s tradition in which we continue to promote positive examples of poignant historical events, exemplary leaders and steps towards societal change. This remembrance is not only deeply meaningful for the African American community, but imperative for the greater understanding of national and world history.

Understanding the statistics regarding mental health and the Black community only make it more important that we do what we can to make ourselves knowledgeable and easily accessible to assist with the issues impacting this community:

  • According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
  • Only about one-quarter of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40% of whites for a variety of reasons that include distrust, misdiagnosis, stigma, socio-economic factors, a lack of Black mental health professionals, and more.
  • Historically, African Americans have been and continue to be negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination in the health care system. Misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment and lack of cultural competence by health professionals breed distrust and prevent many African Americans from seeking or staying in treatment.
  • Additionally, the stigma within the Black community makes it less likely an individual will seek treatment earlier on, often times exacerbating the condition at the time of treatment.
  • Homelessness, exposure to violence and trauma and other factors hit the black community harder than others. These combined with 19% of African Americans having no form of health insurance, makes it harder for treatment to get to these individuals in need.
  • Only 3.7% of members in the American Psychiatric Association and 1.5% of members in the American Psychological Association are African American. Bringing more leadership into these areas to represent the needs of communities will assist with bringing more attention to these areas.

Take a moment to explore Black history and become more familiar with things you may not know. It is important that we reflect and celebrate the monumental contributions and use them as a platform for future growth.

Five Reasons to Celebrate Black History Month:

  1. Celebrating Black History Month honors the historic leaders of the Black community.
  2. Celebrating Black History Month helps us to be better stewards of the privileges we’ve gained.
  3. Celebrating Black History month provides an opportunity to highlight the rest of Black history & culture.
  4. Celebrating Black History Month creates awareness for all people.
  5. Celebrating Black History Month reminds us all that Black history is the history of us all.

Written by Nick Kicior, Journey Health System Outcomes Director

Remarkable people help make Fairweather Lodge home

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Note: This story is the second in a two-part series about the Fairweather Lodge program, written by Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (PRS) interns Brooke Bateman and Laurel Geer from Gannon University's Occupational Therapy program. Stairways communications specialist Joseph Cuneo contributed to this story.

Kim Stucke has long held in high regard the value of home.

The esteem with which Stairways' Chief Development Officer holds has its roots in her early days at Stairways as a live-in residential aide.

“Back then, we were bringing people back home when they were being released from the state hospitals,” she said. “I’ve always had this sense of how important home is.”

She attributes that same sense as the reason for her deep involvement with Fairweather Lodge, a program that encourages individuals who have a mental illness to be active in their recovery through a peer-supported, community-based, housing and work environment.

Stucke's involvement with Fairweather Lodge dates back to the early 2000s, when she began working with former Stairways residential director Ed Dawson, who had brought the first Fairweather lodge to Erie in 1999.

Stucke, serving in a nonresidential role, and Dawson, teamed up to not only increase the number of lodges in Erie from a single site to eight across the city, but introduced the model to 38 locations across the state with the help of a modest grant from the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

By 2004, Stucke was involved with the national board of the Coalition for Community Living (CCL), the body that governs Fairweather Lodges. Today, she and Dawson, who is retired and still living in Erie, serve as co-chairs of the CCL.

Along the way, Kim and the team that helped bring FWL to Erie and across Pennsylvania have found that the members aren’t the only ones who have benefitted from the lodge.

“For Ed, (FWL manager) Tina Loomis and myself,” Kim said, “we accomplished things that we never thought we could do and at the same time, we’ve empowered ourselves.”

The most important part of the FWL program is of course the members.

Joe Allen has been a member for nine months. “From the day I found out about the Lodge, to them taking me in with my only income through Stairways, they were there for me all the time and taught me about different aspects of life. They give people the opportunity to blossom and grow. The staff even helped me get glasses. They opened their doors and hearts and skills for me from day one.” Joe is a member of the Training Lodge and is the current House Chair. “I help coordinate the house duties, discuss issues that may come up with the other members. I make sure that the van is being used properly, and that members are paying their rent on time. I remind the members about making it to their appointments, and to schedule their appointments. I am there as a support for the other members and help the new members understand the importance of the Lodge. I will also let the staff know when there is something going on.”

Barry May, a FWL member who lives in a permanent Lodge, stated that FWL helped him get back on track and gives him a sense of security. “I was next to homeless before coming to the Lodge. I am now keeping up on all of my appointments, and seeing all of my doctors. It has given me a place to live.” Barry now works in the community in a job that he really likes.

Maggie Darker, a Lodge member for four years, said that she looks at her past as a part of who she is and it motivates her. “The way I look at it, you have pros and cons. I didn’t want to sit back and feel sorry for myself.” She spends a lot of time working with fellow Lodge members and is a crew leader for Opportunities Unlimited. Maggie said that there are a lot of responsibilities, but she has learned things that she didn’t know before being a member of the FWL program. “If I had to go through all of that again to be where I am today, I would.” She was able to get her driver’s license again with the support of her peers. Maggie was recently awarded the national Barbara Breen Fairweather Lodge Member of the Year award for 2015.

When asked where they would be right now if not for FWL, most of the members said they would be homeless. Barry said, “Who knows where I would be right now? I may have found another program. Not having that sense of security is why I went through Stairways. I would have eventually worked myself up but I would not be where I am now. I would have found some sort of living arrangements but the ‘what if?’ is a big question that is not easily answered.” Barry stated that the sense of knowing where you’re going and that you have resources to fall back on are what helped him be successful in the program.

It is clear that Dr. Fairweather had a vision for a program aimed to give individuals with mental illness the opportunity to live in a positive environment, experience success personally, socially, and vocationally and to decrease stigma. FWL members with the support of Stairways staff are working together to make that vision a reality.

Special thanks to the following individuals who helped with this article: Kim Stucke, Joe Allen, Joe Crotty, Maggie Darker, Christine Linkie, Tina Loomis, Barry May, and Tammy Young.


Pennsylvania Celebrates Fairweather Lodge Day

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Note: This story is the first in a two-part series about the Fairweather Lodge program, written by Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (PRS) interns Brooke Bateman and Laurel Geer from Gannon University's Occupational Therapy program.

To honor the life and contributions of Dr. George William Fairweather, founder of the Fairweather Lodge (FWL) Program, the Pennsylvania General Assembly of the Senate and House of Representatives recently adopted resolutions to designate Sept. 25, 2015, as Fairweather Lodge Day.

This day recognizes Dr. Fairweather's efforts in developing a program that allows individuals with mental illness to take an active role in their recovery through community living, and also raises awareness for and acknowledges the many people who work together to make the FWL program a reality.

After devoting his life to integrating individuals with mental illness into the community, Dr. Fairweather died in January at the age of 93. To commemorate the man and his vision, several Stairways Behavioral Health Fairweather Lodge members and employees participated in the 31st Annual Fairweather Lodge Conference from Sept. 23-25 in Pittsburgh. 

About the Fairweather Lodge Program

The Fairweather Lodge Program was developed in 1963 to encourage homeless individuals who have a mental illness to be active in their recovery through a peer-supported, community-based, residential and work environment. The program was designed as a community living lodge to emphasize interdependence. People in the program live together, work together, and learn the skills necessary to function in a peer-supported environment.

In the FWL model, members have a say in the program, can live autonomously, have opportunities for advancement and fulfill expected social roles.  Together, these are factors that promote one of the aims of the FWL Program: to combat stigma associated with mental illness. Staff provide training, help the peer group to function well, offer individual and group support, and collaborates on individual goals. At Stairways, these functions are carried out by FWL management and PRS staff.

Eight concepts provide a foundation for the program and fidelity to the FWL model:

  • Provide a safe environment.
  • Promote good health and symptom management.
  • Provide long-term services for those who need it.
  • Promote productive work.
  • Create meaningful social roles.
  • Provide community culture resembling a healthy family.
  • Work to promote independence/interdependence.
  • Create and secure multiple resources.

Fairweather Lodge at Stairways

Tina Loomis is a PRS Clinical Supervisor and veteran manager of FWL. Kim Stucke, Stairways Chief Development Officer, helped get the program started in Erie and across the Commonwealth, and continues to provide administrative and funding support.

Stairways’ FWL Program started in 1999 with one lodge. “Five members were interviewed and then started their own janitorial business with a contract through Stairways,” Loomis said. At one point, the program had 57 members, and by 2005 it had 23 work contracts. Presently, there are seven lodges with a total of 41 members, including a 12-member Training Lodge, where members are provided with skill-building services through PRS as well as other support services.

After graduating from the Training Lodge, members move to permanent lodges or to other community housing. Permanent lodge members may or may not receive services, but are still FWL members and are supported by FWL/PRS staff  Tammy Young, Joe Crotty, and Amanda Ferguson. The FWL Program currently has one work contract through Opportunities Unlimited of Erie and many FWL members work in competitive employment in the Erie community.

For Loomis, the most important outcome of the program is that “individuals move from the (Training) lodge to independent living in the community and sustain their lives how they see fit. (The FWL program) helps them to get back a sense of themselves and realize they have power; it helps the powerless feel powerful again.”

As the FWL Manager/Coordinator, Tammy Young provides programmatic and direct recovery-oriented services.  She manages daily operations, interviews people who are interested in FWL, coordinates team meetings, communicates with community partners, provides support for social interaction and conflict resolution, and works with members individually to set and reach their goals.

“The lodge gives them a secure place to be, a sense of belonging so they can have all their basic needs met,” Young said. “They are able to grow personally, find meaningful activity, find out who they are, and learn skills that they need to live independently. For those who are ready for the program, the success rate is huge. We look at the person as a whole and give them the opportunities and tools to be what they need to be independent.”

Joe Crotty oversees the vocational side of the FWL Program and works with Young and the SBH property management team to support day-to-day Lodge programming for all seven lodges. He has worked with FWL Program intermittently for 10 years. For Crotty, the most important outcome of the program is its “individual personal growth.”

According to Joe, “The most important thing the lodge does for members," Crotty said, "is that it provides an environment and support, simultaneously, for individuals at imminent risk to prevent homelessness from occurring.

"It attempts to address skill-building and supports connection, as natural supports for the individual provide stability where there was not before.”

Above, right: Kim Stucke, Stairways Chief Development Officer and co-chair of the Coalition for Community Living, left, stands with the late Dr. George William "Bill" Fairweather, founder of the Fairweather model, during his visit to Stairways' lodge.

Next month: Hear from local, individual FWL members, in their own words

Gateway Center serves mental health program to state parole violators

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Every day we use so many abbreviations at the Forensic Outpatient clinic that people will often stop us and ask us what we are talking about.  I think it becomes part of the daily routine wherever we are.  Lately, we have heard, “What is the PVC?  What is a BCC?” 

To understand what the Parole Violator’s Center, or PVC is, first, understand the sensitive nature of the clients that the Forensic Clinic serves.  We serve the population of people that are moving in and out of the criminal justice system, the population that has mental health issues.  These clients are in a state of pre-trial (not been sentenced yet), on probation or parole (out on the streets and living among society) and those living in restricted settings (halfway house and PVC).  A halfway house means that someone is halfway out of prison and is making their way into the community and working to find a place to live.  Halfway back means that the person was struggling on the street and a home setting was not healthy but prison was not an answer so putting them in a monitored environment was necessary.  This person is allowed to still come to appointments and be in the community but on a monitored and restricted basis.

Today, I want to discuss the milestone of being able to provide mental health services to the men at the Gateway facility.

A PVC is where a person on State Parole will be diverted to rather than going back to State Prison.  They have violated their conditions of parole to the point that it is not safe for them to be out on the street, but the parole agent does not want to put them back into at State Prison yet.   Historically, men and women in these settings would have access to a medical doctor but their mental health services would stop at the door.  The medical doctors did their best to assist with providing mental health medications when absolutely needed but they did not have the knowledge of the mental health system or medications that a psychiatrist or certified registered nurse practitioner or other mental health staff would have.  People housed in these situations would have to wait until released to the community or worse, sent back to prison to see mental health professionals.

Through a new contract that the Forensic Outpatient Clinic (FOP) received from the BCC or Bureau of Community Corrections, we have been able to provide not only psychiatric care to the men housed at the PVC but now individual and group therapy.  This has allowed FOP to continue services with current clients and identify men needing services that were not in services in the past.  With having no interruption, individuals can be stabilized and continue at the clinic seamlessly. 

Amy Konkel is the FOP therapist that currently provides services at Gateway and has been trained in MRT therapy.  MRT or Moral Reconation Therapy is a cognitive behavioral program for criminal justice offenders.  It combines education, group and individual counseling and structured exercises designed to foster moral development in treatment resistant clients.  MRT seeks to move an individual from a more pleasure vs pain sense of thinking and reasoning to one of concern for social rules and others becomes important.  Amy runs this group at the center and has started running the group at FOP so that men coming out of the PVC can continue with this treatment as well.  Currently, Amy is the only person trained in Erie County to provide MRT services.

Currently, Gateway and our forensic outpatient team have been working together and have seen an improvement with the men staying at the center since therapy and psychiatric services have been started.  Clients have also reported feeling added support.

- Stairways Forensic Clinic Staff

Little Free Library opens at BLOOM

Monday, April 27, 2015

Note: Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. 

Started in 2009 as a front-yard book exchange in a Hudson, Wisc., neighborhood, 25,000 Little Free Libraries now stand as part of a global phenomenon that keeps gaining momentum.

Individuals from Stairways’ Psychiatric Rehabilitation class “Developing Community” recently helped design, configure and decorate a re-purposed newspaper box at BLOOM Collaborative filled with books for neighbors to share.

The Stairways and BLOOM Collaborative library is accessible on the sidewalk outside BLOOM’s property along Holland Street. It is one of 11 Little Free Libraries within the City of Erie.

I was very excited about the idea of introducing the Little Free Library project as part of the Psych Rehab class curriculum. I knew it would be a fun and exciting way for participants to learn skills for greater community involvement and I especially liked the idea that this was a project which they could continue to be a part of once the class was over.

Throughout the class, participants practiced group decision-making and task delegation. They learned about community agencies, and the process that goes into starting and following through with community service projects. This included networking and making connections with members of the community who could provide advice and supplies as well as making considerations for a project which would become part of public space.

The group chose a wellness theme and chose images to represent wellness to decorate the chalkboard paint background. The project helped them to learn more about personal wellness. Visitors to the library will be invited to add their own images of wellness using provided chalk. The final piece is a book adhered to the top which will describe each of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

The group’s design is completely interactive and inviting and the end result is very eye catching. The group members are very much looking forward to their work being part of the community and are very proud to be part of project that has such a strong impact. Overall, the skills that participants practiced in this group contributed to their sense of self-determination and empowerment.

Michelle Jaggi, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialist

Deb Grill: Program Outcomes

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Early in our education, we are taught that 2+2=4.  This simple formula laid the foundation for not only future math lessons, but also the knowledge that when certain pieces are put together, they should equal a specific product.  It would seem, then, that the Stairways’ formula of dedicated and highly-qualified staff + invested consumers should equal effective service and positive change.  But how do we know for sure? 

The system of outcomes data collection implemented in June 2013 is the start of a way for us to “check our math.”  By completing surveys, progress reviews and placement logs, we can track the progress our consumers make in different areas.  As clinicians, we tend to be acutely aware of “where” the individuals we serve are in their recovery.  The outcomes data we’ve begun to collect allows us to quantify and chart that information.

With a year and a half worth of data collected so far, we’ve learned that the individuals we serve are overwhelmingly satisfied with our work and our staff.  The majority are also resilient and steadfastly hopeful in the face of past or present obstacles.  Documentation regarding out-of-home placements and progress toward goals allow us to be more aware of new or recurring obstacles so that we can more astutely attend to them. 

Moving forward, we are dedicated to continuously improving the tools we use to collect the most useful information possible.  Additionally, tracking information on a regular basis will allow trends to emerge and exhibit progress over time.  This data will demonstrate the great work we are doing and be of assistance as it may inform ways to improve our services.

Deborah Grill, LPC

Supervisor of Program Outcomes and Evaluator


Group Therapy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Here at Stairways’ Forensic Out-Patient clinic, all clients are required to complete at least one 8-12 week group, preferable shortly after the completion of the Intake process. Just like the camaraderie and strength in numbers found in AA meetings, many clients report  the feedback and support they receive from their peers in group plays a vital part in their individual journeys of recovery.

I run a weekly Men’s Issues Group, where the guys have an opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of their weeks, and how they navigate conflict, stress, decision-making and especially inter-personal relationships. We also look differences between men and women, such as innate brain differences which affect things like multi-tasking and listening skills. Finally, I gotta say that I continue to be impressed by the empathy, respect and support that our clients impart to each other on a daily basis.

Robert T. Ross, MSW LSW

Therapist, FOP clinic


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