Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From the River Bottom

Last week during aftercare a client said "I was like a barking dog behind a fence." He used the analogy to describe how closed off he used to be before he entered counseling.

At one time all this client would do during group is sit with his arms crossed and his eyes pointed at the ceiling. In fact, he relapsed a few times before he finally got into the program and started to change. He was fear-based and angry; change came for him very slowly.

The last time he came back to the program though he seemed motivated. He started following suggestions and got a sponsor. Within a short period he completed a fourth and fifth step. He began doing service work and socializing with people outside of TLC. He began to blossom and work the 12-step program.

In addition, he sought out counseling resources in the community. And we know he's paying attention when he's attending counseling because he often quotes things he's heard in his outside sessions.

He's a good example of why we don't push clients to participate during groups. As long as they're not disruptive they're welcome to stay. Even though a man might not participate, he still hears the interaction between other group members and the facilitator. Eventually, like drips of water on a piece of dry wood, something soaks in. And while the result may not show up for a year or two, it’s always worthwhile to see a client wake up.

When I see a client go from being a homeless drunken bum living on the river bottom to become a productive, sober member of the community it makes everything we do worthwhile.