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Our Spiritual Path

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When a person has no hope, no sense of self, no meaning in life, and when they feel that their purpose on this earth feels nonexistent, their dreams have evaporated and thoughts of tomorrow are too heavy a burden to carry – that person can start to drown in emptiness.  It is at this time when they need that path to be opened – the path of connection, the path of light and a path that is uniquely theirs. It becomes the one place or thought that they can hold on to; this is their personal spiritual path. Spirituality is the connection to a greater power, others and self.  It is the way to find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in life.  Many people find spirituality through religion, music, art or a connection with nature, while others find it in their values and principles. At Crestwood Behavioral Health we hold spirituality as one of our core values for recovery.

The path can be dark at times. It can be difficult to find without a companion, a guide or simply someone who believes in you, who sees you and who can by a look, a touch or a word begin to open the door to your spiritual path.  The door may be a prayer, a moment of tears, or even a moment of silence. It is a connection with a higher power, with nature, with something or someone greater than ourselves.

The door to your spiritual path may be opened in the simplest and most humble of settings or it may be in a mosque, temple or church. It may be sitting near water or may be by spending time in the outdoors. At times it’s in silence or it can be brought on by a beautiful song.

Each person’s spiritual path can be healing, centering, a moment of peace that is filled with acceptance and love. It is often what brings back hope, a sense of self, purpose and a meaning to life. It is and shall always be a core value to what we offer in our services for our clients at Crestwood.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President


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Crestwood’s Core Values: Family

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The family unit is one of the most important and influential social groups.  At some point in each of our lives, we are part of a family. Today we have expanded our definition of family beyond the “nuclear” reference and many people have created their own meaningful definition of family in their own lives.

In serving people challenged by mental health issues, Crestwood recognizes how essential family can be to the process of recovery. One of Crestwood’s Core Values is Family, which means our company is committed to providing safe, secure and responsive mental health services to the entire family.  It is estimated that up to 70% of people living with mental health issues live with a family member.

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The needs of families for support, education, and information are evident.  At Crestwood American River, we seek out and actively engage with the family members of our clients, and have become acutely aware of the stress and conflict they are experiencing.  As a result, the American River campus offers a free-of-cost Family Support Group to help families navigate the systems designed to support their family member, provide an outlet for sharing, problem solving and processing of difficult feelings, and creating their own self-care plans.

Our Family Support Group was started in January 2015, and is led by Denise Thompson, MFTI, who is one of the Recovery Service Coordinators at the American River PHF.   The group is a psycho-educational community support group and is open to all family members of past and present clients.  The group is held bi-weekly without fail and members set the topics.  It is a safe, confidential place to share their healing journeys.  They share stories, learn coping skills and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques, while connecting with each other. One member of the group, Jamie, is a key advocate for the creation of the group and has been regularly attending since it first began. When his family member was a client at Crestwood American River he asked for support, he asked for resources, and he volunteered to be a part of helping others in any way possible. “It is difficult to find the right words to describe the excruciating emotional pain created by seeing a loved one secluded in a mental health facility.  It is difficult as well to describe the gratitude after finding the desperate relief through the sessions offered by Crestwood,” explained Jamie. “When my family member began in the rehabilitation program at American River, my family and I, at that time, did not have support or knowledge of where to go.  All of this was done in order to make things easier for me, and to point us in the direction of the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for opening this door of opportunity and healing, which is a great step for me, and for giving me the strength to persist and succeed.”

At Crestwood American River we feel honored to support our clients and their families.  We believe by providing support and education to the families and the community, it leads to inclusion and reduces stigma.  This is what living our Crestwood Values is all about.

Contributed by:
Stacy Small, Clinical Director


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Choosing Recovery

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Recovery is a choice; a person has to choose to be willing to work on their own recovery and actively participate in determining what recovery means to them. Not only is recovery a choice, it is an ongoing choice that is deeply personal and one that a person has to keep choosing every day, even though it may be difficult at times.

At Crestwood Center at Napa Valley when a client is not ready to begin their journey of recovery, we let them know that we are here to help them when they decide they are ready. We are able to offer compassion, support and empathy in a non-judgmental manner. We offer a variety of opportunities they can participate in that will hopefully make their choice for recovery easier such as WRAP, DBT, working for Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network, art therapy, and various addiction-based recovery groups. Independent studies are also available for those not comfortable in groups.

Once one of our clients makes the decision to begin their journey of recovery, it then becomes an ongoing choice, a new habit and a new way of life for them. Eventually, choosing recovery for them becomes easier. Recovery may be difficult for so many reasons such as facing uncomfortable thoughts, doing things they may not want to do, and even things they may believe are unnecessary. Sometimes the process of recovery includes not having much power or control over one’s own life for a time. So we try to provide our clients with tools, skills and plans they can use to gain empowerment and independence. Sometimes the realization of having to make the choice of recovery for the rest of their lives can be overwhelming, but we always remind them to take it one day at a time.  We encourage them by letting them know that when recovery does become a habit, it stops being so daunting.

The work we do at Crestwood Center at Napa Valley can be frustrating at times because we cannot force a client to work on their recovery, as much as we want it for them. But more often than not, our work is very rewarding when we can help a client with their recovery. We can never give up hope and instead we can hold the hope for the hopeless and support their decisions. We can continue to help others discover their own path on the road to recovery by offering counseling, encouragement, our life experiences and our strengths. Our goal is to let our clients know that recovery is a choice that is worth making, so that they can maximize their life and achieve a sense of balance and fulfillment.

Contributed by:
Cheri Tugmon
Service Coordinator
Crestwood Center at Napa Valley


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Supporting Recovery with WRAP

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At Crestwood Bakersfield, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is an important part of the healing and recovery process for their clients. Their motto and goal is to stay well by playing and focusing on their key recovery concepts, which include hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy and support.  WRAP is used to learn to uncover each person’s own wellness tools and put them into action on a daily basis. Many of the WRAP activities they have incorporated into their classes are team building activities, which help others learn how to work as a team, increase problem solving skills and improve communication.

“Our goal is to incorporate more fun, interactive and competitive activities into our WRAP trainings.  Just recently I developed a WRAP Trivia/Crestwood Family Feud game which has been helpful in understanding why WRAP is such a vital part of our lives,” said Linda Johnson, Director of Recreation Therapy.

Another creative way Crestwood Bakersfield is presenting WRAP in their programs is by having individuals team up into pairs, with the assignment to create and design a WRAP community in which people would enjoy living.  This exercise is not only a lot of fun for the clients, but it also brings communication, group understanding and decision making skills in to play.

“Since so many of us enjoy being in a peaceful setting, we have also incorporated a beach theme into our WRAP classes this summer, with ocean sounds, beach sand, sea shells, candles, lounge chairs and many other soothing items which seem to help ease the pressure of daily life,” explained Linda.

Crestwood Bakersfield continues to find wonderful ways to support clients in their recovery through innovative WRAP activities and they love to say, “We are playing. What are you doing to stay well?”

Contributed by:
Linda Johnson
Director of Recreation Therapy
Crestwood Bakersfield


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Crestwood’s Journey

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I first learned about Crestwood four years ago in Boston, where I met Mertice “Gitane” Williams, Crestwood’s Vocational Wellness Educator, at a Trauma Summit hosted by the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. My introduction to Crestwood and subsequent work with Crestwood has had a profound effect in my personal and professional life.

I train and consult on creating trauma-informed systems all over the country and in some other parts of the world. As many of you know, trauma-informed care (TIC) is about operating from a set of values consistent with trauma-informed principles. First and foremost, Crestwood values are very much aligned with the values of TIC. But more importantly, Crestwood lives and practices its values, which makes it a trauma-informed organization.

Creating trauma-informed organizations is a journey. This journey can be difficult and challenging, but rewarding. Crestwood understands this and has made a commitment to this journey for the long haul. This is what makes my journey with Crestwood unique. I have assisted many organizations in this journey and some organizations introduce TIC as a “flavor of the month”, and then later that energy fades away. But this is not the case at Crestwood. Two years after my big training for Crestwood on TIC, the DVD of that training remains mandatory viewing for their new staff orientation. Of course, I still blush when I walk into a program and get recognized from that DVD!

Trauma-informed care is about healing. There are experiences in all our lives and our clients’ lives that leave an emotional wound, and some of those are deeper than others. A very wise Native American psychologist once said that trauma is the “wound that does not bleed.” Therefore, our job is to create a system of care that ultimately helps heal these wounds. We can call it many names, but ultimately most everything we do boils down to promoting healing. Crestwood understands this concept and that is why the many initiatives that Crestwood embarks on helps people heal. For example, the development of welcoming rooms to replace intake/admission rooms is a significant move towards healing. When clients walk into a Crestwood building, their first encounter is to walk into a room that says, “We are here to make you feel safe and wanted” versus “We are here to fix you.” Practices that empower clients to manage their treatment honors clients’ self-determination. Also the preponderance of rocking and sliding chairs in the programs provides rhythmic and repetitive movements for self-soothing and building new self-regulatory pathways, which are important in a client’s healing journey.  All the environmental improvements and enhancements convey the message to your clients and staff that you provide them with a place to live and work that reflects their importance in this world. The Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network program is not just a vocational program, it is a program that helps clients rediscover and reinforce their worth in this world and that they can make a difference.

There are many big and small things that are being implemented throughout Crestwood. I urge you to view all of these as steps in the healing journey and that there is no deed too small to make an impact on healing. There is no job or function that does not contribute to this journey.  The Crestwood motto, “It’s About Growth” is founded on the understanding that it is hard to grow without healing from the past. Practicing trauma-informed approaches is akin to preparing and tilling the land to ensure growth is possible. A good gardener knows that it is important to know the nutrients that already exist in the soil in order to supplement and enhance what is already there.  This is why it is also crucial that you recognize and honor the many years you have been conducting healing practices with your clients. Your journey is in discovering and implementing healing practices that will augment the wonderful things you all are already doing.

Lastly, I thank you all for the privilege in making me a part of the Crestwood journey!

Contributed by:
Raul Almazar
Almazar Consulting & Senior Consultant to the National Center for Trauma Informed Care.


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Collaboration Changes Lives

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It’s unusual to observe collaboration as it is happening. It is far more common to celebrate the success of collaboration after its culminated.  Crestwood’s collaboration with San Diego Health Care Hospital system and San Diego County Behavioral Health Services has provided an incredible opportunity to observe it in real time with measurable milestones and outcomes.

This collaboration story began in 1992 when a case manager from San Diego County was seeking a placement for a very challenging client and a Crestwood facility in northern California was willing to take a chance. Later that case manager’s program manager got a chance to visit this client at the Crestwood Facility in northern California. What she saw there that day left a very positive impression that she remembered for many years to come. This was the first collaboration between Crestwood and San Diego County and set the stage for future events. Fast forward to 2013 when that very astute and dedicated program manager, Anna La Rocca Palid, LCSW, who is now a leader as a Behavioral Health Program Coordinator in San Diego County Behavioral Health Services, contacted Crestwood about the need in San Diego County for secured behavioral healthcare services. The county had grown tremendously and there were more challenging people to serve and insufficient programs to serve them. They needed a provider to work with the community and them to serve at least 40 clients requiring intensive, secured, recovery-based services. The county also wanted a provider who thinks outside the box, has creative individualized employment programs, recovery services and focuses on integrated alternative tools for clients and they chose Crestwood to be that provider.

Crestwood and San Diego County Behavioral Health Services began devising a plan to address the county’s needs. Crestwood found a beautiful site for a 42-bed Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC) on a hospital campus in San Diego and created the first of two programs – Crestwood San Diego. Crestwood San Diego opened in June 2014 and quickly filled up with 42 clients. Before long, there was a flow of individuals successfully reintegrating into the community and new admissions moving into the program. The hospitals in the area felt a sense of relief and the new services served their purpose with helping many clients with their recovery.

Soon Crestwood San Diego was full and the San Diego County behavioral healthcare system again felt the pressure of impacted Emergency Departments, long waiting lists at the psychiatric hospitals and a bottleneck in the mental health system. So they looked among themselves to find a possible location for a 40-bed MHRC. Paradise Valley Hospital found a location that would work. Crestwood and Paradise Valley Hospital started discussions about creating a 40-bed MHRC on this site. Dimitrios Alexiou, FACHE, President and CEO of The Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties and San Diego County Behavioral Health Services worked very closely together to successfully garner support from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the community to commit to the 40-bed MHRC in Chula Vista. Crestwood and Paradise Valley Hospital invested significantly in an extensive refurbishing project to create a beautiful, homelike, welcoming recovery-based MHRC known as Crestwood Chula Vista. Crestwood Chula Vista opened in July 2015 and is Crestwood’s ninth MHRC in California.

Collaboration is working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals. The wonderful collaboration of these groups created an environment that enabled San Diego County Behavioral Health Services to provide beds to some of the clients in greatest need for these services, helping them with their recovery and easing stress in the community and local hospital emergency rooms. It is clear to see that through collaboration we can make a difference.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President


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Celebrating Wellness

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Crestwood Treatment Center’s Dream Team Celebrating Wellness

“Health is wellness, health is power,” declared a resident at Crestwood Treatment Center in Fremont.  This powerful statement came as a result of the facility’s first Wellness Fair that was held on March 18, 2015.  In preparation for the Wellness Fair, a few small groups of residents known as the “Dream Team” spent three months exploring with staff members different wellness topics related to stress management, both through research and experiential activities.  These small groups met once a week to investigate each wellness topic and prepare a related presentation.  After three months of creative collaboration, they selected the topics of Aromatherapy, Exercise, Music Appreciation, Guided Imagery, and Assertive Communication to feature at their Wellness Fair.

The Dream Team residents then prepared and distributed invitations to facility residents and staff, and announcement banners were hung throughout the facility.  The conference room and adjoining outdoor Zen Garden were transformed into a presentation hall, with five separate stations, one for each wellness topic.  The Wellness Fair kicked off on a beautiful day with the Zen Garden fountain bubbling and relaxing music playing.  Seats were available in the garden for attendees to reflect quietly and/or relax together.  Residents and staff were invited to make their way throughout the fair, stopping at each booth to connect with their Dream Team hosts.  Pairs of Dream Team members handed out informational packets and discussed their topic of wellness with participants, and invited them to join them in their wellness activity.  One resident remarked, “I was able to get a lot of information proving that music really does relieve stress.  It is my favorite way to take the stress away.  Music even relieves stress during dental procedures!”  Refreshments were also served and participants were invited to share hummus, cucumber toast, a fresh fruit salad, and lemon mint water as they further relaxed in the Zen Garden.

The education, exchange of wellness information and the entire experience was very empowering for Dream Team members and well received by all who participated.  “The Wellness Fair was a complete success.  It was so much fun and informative for everyone.  Participating residents were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their respective topics.  They were able to communicate and explain the importance on how to live a healthy lifestyle.  The visitors who attended the Fair were all impressed with the way the booths were set up and organized by staff and residents,” said Luis de Vera, Assistant Director of Nursing

The facility is still buzzing about the Wellness Fair and Dream Team members are eager to start preparing for next year’s event. They have big plans to expand the fair and possibly invite other Crestwood facilities to share in the experience.

Lillian Fong, Program Administrator, remarked, “I am so impressed with our residents’ enthusiasm and “can do” attitude. Their confidence was evident that day for all to see.”

Contributed by:

Karen Scott, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist
Crestwood Treatment Center

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