In life we only get one chance for a few things – one of them is a first impression, so it’s vital we prepare ourselves to give an authentic and genuine one. In doing so, we share ourselves with others in the way we wish to be understood. First impressions can be our calling card and they can be the one element or the one interaction that connects two people deeply.
At Crestwood Behavioral Health, we believe in the value of the first impression so we strive to make it the most authentic and positive one possible. We create the opportunity to meet the person, whether it’s a client, a coworker, a family member or visitor, exactly where they are at. We have drawn from a course created in the hospitality industry called First Impressions to teach the skills needed to make this welcoming and warm first impression. We included it in the curriculum lessons from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the 12-Step Program, Core Gifts, Trauma-Informed Care and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). The course framework focuses on the principles of commitment, leadership, attitude, service and support.
The principle of commitment in the First Impressions course emphasizes how to do our very best each day, to make a difference in someone else’s life and by doing so, we then make a difference in our own lives. We commit ourselves to the Crestwood values of family, to holding ourselves with integrity, to compassionately doing our work, to being flexible and forthright, and to have a sense of humor and positive attitude about the serious and challenging moments that frequently occur in our day.
The leadership principle in the course focuses on leading by example. No matter what position you hold in life or at Crestwood, we are certain that we all have an opportunity and responsibility to lead. In life we are all leaders and we must demonstrate our values each day so that we create a sense of positive peer pressure, creating a culture of caring behavior by “paying it forward.”
Attitude is addressed in the course as being reflected in our actions. We promote healthy productive behavior through building skills to increase the self-esteem and sense of value of our clients and staff. We create an environment where skills are taught and practiced to enhance the lives of our clients, families and ourselves, whether it’s DBT, Trauma-Informed Care approaches or WRAP. This culture of learning creates a positive sense of self which turns into positive performance at Crestwood.
The service principle in the First Impressions course focuses on the work we do and so much more. It is being committed to come to work on time and making each moment count. It is having a smile. It is consistently meeting the needs of those around us with healthy boundaries, dignity and compassion.
And finally the principle of support is addressed on how it holds the first impression and the ongoing relationship together. Support of others starts with self-care. In Trauma-Informed Care approaches we say “put your mask on first, before you can help someone else”, so if you are not healthy and supported, then you cannot provide care and support to others. Support includes anticipating the needs of co-workers, as well as clients. It is creating a healthy environment where we feel cared for and appreciated. This leads to our sense of pride in the work we do and the people we are.
The First Impressions class at Crestwood teaches each of these values and allows our staff to spend time together sharing their thoughts and developing the rapport to truly emanate team work. The opportunity is always there for a positive first impression and at Crestwood we seize the moment to do so.
Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD, Crestwood Vice President