Because our commitment at House of Hope is to help women recover from substance use disorders, we are always looking for ways to improve our delivery of services. In 2020, we experienced many changes, some we initiated with careful deliberation, and others were imposed upon us. Some changes felt like whiplash, while others gave us deep satisfaction and pride.
In March, with COVID-19 cases soaring in various locations, Los Angeles County required immediate changes in the ways we offered care to our patients. Never have we had to change so quickly, and so dramatically. Suddenly staff were working from home, which required laptops, telephones and the use of telehealth that was compliant with privacy laws. Suddenly all treatment and recovery activities occurred on Zoom—staff meetings, assessment, individual therapy sessions, relapse prevention groups, and AA meetings. We quarantined new patients and patients who had possible symptoms of COVID-19. We adopted mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing practices to keep staff members and clients safe. We’ve succeeded in this endeavor thus far. We will continue to take the necessary precautions and follow medical guidelines so that our mission to help women recover from substance use disorders continues without pause.
Other changes this year have been implemented with the goal of improving upon already awesome treatment methods. We have hired new staff members that bring with them creativity, enthusiasm, and solution-focused care. We now have three therapists at House of Hope, and by the end of 2020, all three will be trained in trauma-focused care and EMDR—a treatment protocol that stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing.” It allows patients to re-process trauma through techniques that have been researched carefully and found to have effective outcomes. With the training that our therapists are receiving, they are able to use the latest therapeutic methods to address the damaging traumas that often catapult young women into substance abuse.
We have officially moved from mere traumaawareness to trauma-focused care, which is good news for our patients who need evidence-based practices to address the issues underlying their substance use disorders. Our newly-hired substance abuse counselors show patients that treatment doesn’t have to be a solemn affair. Although we guide women towards earnest efforts to change every aspect of their lives, our committed counselors demonstrate that sobriety includes joy and laughter, comradery with their peers and inspiration. They share games, art projects, physical activities, and other fun ideas that show ingenuity and creativity. We hold holiday decorating contests and encourage maskwearing with a game. We “catch” our patients making good choices, and highlight their positive achievements in process groups.
Person-centered care means that our staff members are always searching for activities and projects that can guide each individual patient towards a wide-range of goals, beginning with long-term sobriety, and including everything from employment and school to re-unification with children and improving communication with other family members.
I’m pleased with the changes that we have implemented this year, and know that we will continue to search for and implement best practices for our patients. Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy holiday season, and thank you for your love and support.