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The Gift collaboration

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When a company turns 50 there are moments when you look back and remember the many milestones and accomplishments throughout the years. Crestwood has had many of these milestones and the one common thread throughout our 50 years of memories is our ability to join forces through collaboration and create a synergy to support those who are in need the most. This ability is based on Crestwood’s belief that the best things happen when we engage with and support each other to meet the ever-increasing mental health needs of the people of California. By sharing our resources, we believe we are stronger as a community to serve people with mental health issues. For Crestwood, we recently added a new significant milestone to our history with the opening of our newest Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC), the San Francisco Healing Center, which was made possible through an amazing collaboration effort.

Collaboration has been defined at Crestwood as the beauty of giving and receiving. It is a partnership, an alliance and a relationship. It is the space where we connect in a common purpose. The San Francisco Healing Center (SFHC) came together through a true collaboration between Crestwood and remarkable people and organizations including the late Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee; the current Mayor of San Francisco, Mark Farrell; Aneeka Chaudhry, the Mayor’s Office Senior Advisor/Health Policy; Barbara Garcia, San Francisco’s Director of Public Health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health; Kelly Hiramoto, Director of Transitions for the San Francis- co Department of Public Health; Maga Jackson-Triche, UCSF Health’s Vice President of Adult Behavioral Health Services; Rita Ogden, UCSF Health’s Direc- tor-Project Manager; John Allen, President of St. Mary’s Medical Center; Lloyd Dean, President & CEO of Dignity Health; and Mark Laret, President & CEO of UCSF Health.

 

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at SFHC’s Open House (L to R) Barbara Garcia, Mayor Farrell, Lloyd Dean, London Breen, Maga Jackson-Triche and Sister Mary Kieffer

 

At Crestwood we believe collaboration is a value of the heart. It recognizes the ability to create synergy and requires more than a plan or an intention it requires humility. Humility allows us to recognize and identify when we make mistakes or that others may have better solutions. Humility demonstrates a strength that many organizations shy away from – the strength to learn from mistakes, allow others to take the credit and share the spotlight on support for the people we serve.

Collaboration also requires committed, intentional and active communication. At Crest- wood this communication focuses on transparency, with the intention to enable all parties to have a voice, for messages to be heard, and for respect to be present even during painful confrontations. Communication is built on a foundation of boundaries and ethics. There must be mutuality and respect for communication to be effective.

Listening is another key ingredient in collaboration. Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and teacher of meditation and emotional healing, states that listening is more than a communications skill; it is a capacity that arises from a receptive presence and awakens our awareness. As we learn to listen inwardly, we begin to understand and care more for others.

Collaboration at Crestwood has also grown through gratitude. The opportunity to sense supreme gratefulness is a key ingredient of collaboration. An example of this type of gratitude was demonstrated by St. Mary’s Medical Center offering to lease the 5th floor in their building to our SFHC, so that more mental health services will be available in the community to help this most disenfranchised population.

Our S.F. Healing Center exemplifies another characteristic of collaboration with creativity. This program grew from the belief Kelly Hiramoto had that one day we would find the right location for a recovery-oriented MHRC, rich in evidence-based and promising practices. Kelly then worked with Barbara Garcia to bring together the partnership of San Francisco, Dignity Health, St. Mary’s Medical Center, UCSF and Crestwood to grow the program.

Lastly, collaboration requires patience. Patience is defined as the ability to wait, to continue doing something despite difficulties. Collaboration takes time and there are many bumps in the road, delays and difficulties. Patience allows us to “Keep our eyes on the prize,” which is the ultimate goal. It enables us to weather the difficulties, knowing the outcome, such as the San Francisco Healing Center, will be well worth the struggle and wait.

During the past 50 years at Crestwood, we have had numerous examples of collaboration, resulting from our patience, creativity, gratitude, listening, communication and humility. Crest- wood collaborates every day, at every program and campus, to bring the highest-level of service to our clients. Today, at our San Francisco Healing Center, collaboration has made it possible to have more mental health recovery services be provided to the people in greatest need, which is a victory for all who came together to make it a reality.

Contributed by:
Patricia Blum, PhD
Crestwood Executive Vice President


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Celebrating our Spirituality

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At Crestwood Chula Vista, we celebrate our spirituality. We strive to create an open and free environment for all clients and staff to embrace their spiritual beliefs and practices and who identify with various faiths such as Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, and Judaism. We also have those who consider themselves agnostic or atheist. We do not judge anyone for what they choose to believe and how they choose to express those beliefs.

When people think of spirituality they may automatically think about a certain religion, but spirituality is so much more than that! Spirituality is one of our Pillars of Recovery at Crestwood and we define it as a connection to a greater power, others and self and a way to find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in life. Spirituality is a lifestyle, and for many, it is the very core of who they are as individuals. We live in a multicultural society and we are surrounded by an array of religions and spiritual practices. Our world is rich in culture and that is a beautiful asset to healthy living.

“I think a spiritual journey is not so much a journey of discovery. It’s a journey of recovery. It’s a journey of uncovering your own inner nature. It’s already there.”
Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins

Each week I have the wonderful privilege of facilitating our spirituality groups with our clients. We have created learning and hands-on experiences with each culture, belief and spirituality practice we’ve studied. We devote an entire month to a specific faith/spirituality practice and we post flyers throughout the campus announcing that month’s spirituality group and topic. For example, last July, we focused on Judaism and we went through a PowerPoint presentation that laid out its foundation. The next week we learned about the Israeli flag and painted that flag as we listened to Israeli music. For our next group meeting we watched a documentary on Judaism, which our clients absolutely loved! The final group was centered on what Challah bread means to the Israeli people and learned about Shabbat and ate Challah bread together.

During August, we studied Islam. One of our clients is from Afghanistan and since Afghanistan is an Islamic country, we chose to focus on his home country. Our first week started out with a PowerPoint presentation that helped clients and our staff learn the fundamentals of Islam. The following week we learned about the significance of the Afghan flag as we all painted it. We also painted mosques as we learned about the roles they play in Islam. The next week, I read to the clients from the Quran as they completed Islamic word searches. They really enjoyed hearing the words of the Quran, which for many of them, was the first time. For our last group session that month, we gathered in the recreation room and watched an excellent documentary on the Islamic faith and spiritual practices.

When choosing the topics for each month we invite the clients to select what they would like to focus on. For the month of September, they requested that we learn more about Christianity; for October, the clients asked to discover the treasures of Buddhism; and in November, they asked to learn about the traditions of Catholicism.

At the end of each group, I like to ask clients what their golden nuggets are of what they have learned and what they will take with them. Each week I am amazed at the insightful answers that they share with the group and it is wonderful to see they truly are enjoying this experience. I am so blessed to have the support and encouragement from our leadership team to fully engage our staff and clients in our spirituality groups.

As Billy Corgan, the musician with Smashing Pumpkins, said, “I think a spiritual journey is not so much a journey of discovery. It’s a journey of recovery. It’s a journey of uncovering your own inner nature. It’s already there.”

 

Contributed by:
Wanda Anderson, Service Coordinator Crestwood Chula Vista


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Celebrating Goodbyes

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Imagine a group of people sitting in a circle coming together for a unified purpose, to celebrate the graduation of one of their own. The graduating peer excitedly sits in the middle of the group, with a huge smile on their face, because their day has finally come; they’ve made it to graduation! A beautiful rock has been painted and tailored specifically for that person. The rock is passed around the circle into the hands of all those in attendance, as they share their memories and best wishes for the graduate. Within that rock all the good thoughts are wrapped up into it and then given to the graduate.

At Crestwood Chula Vista, they started a tradition to honor their graduates. When faced with their first successful graduation in December 2015, they wanted to start a special and unique tradition, so they gathered together the people they serve and asked how they would like to celebrate their graduation. Many of them offered insightful and valuable input and all these great ideas were then considered by the community. When all was said and done, the most popular idea for a graduation ceremony came from one of their dearest residents, who has since graduated, to start a goodbye group with a “good memories” rock. The good memories rock, which is decorated according to the desire of its future owner, is passed around from person to person in a circle that surrounds the person who will soon be leaving the campus. Each person who holds the rock is then asked to speak, sharing kind words, dear memories and warm wishes to the graduate. And so, the tradition for their peer goodbye group was created and continues to this day.

For the last goodbye, right before the graduate is completely discharged, they go through what is called their “High-Five Goodbye.” Clients and staff line the sides of the hallway leading to the exit with extended hands and then whistle, cheer and chant the graduate’s name. The graduate walks down the hallway, usually with a huge smile, and receives high-fives, and sometimes hugs. Some cry, some laugh, and some shout. The one thing they all have in common is their excitement to move onto the next chapter of their lives and recovery; they’ve made it!

This tradition has carried over to not just client graduations, but also when their staff move on from Crestwood or are promoted to other campuses. Wanda Anderson, Service Coordinator at Crestwood Chula Vista, said, “Goodbye groups provide closure for staff and the people we serve and are a wonderful opportunity to give honor to those who so deserve it. We love our special tradition and if your campus does not have a tradition to honor your graduates, we hope that this may inspire you to start one of your own.”

Submitted by:
Wanda Anderson, Service Coordinator and Shanel Stec, Activity Coordinator,
Crestwood Chula Vista

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The Power of Meaningful Roles

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Crestwood Behavioral Health’s whole person approach to healing, wellness, recovery and resiliency includes a focus on enhancing or developing a meaningful role in one’s daily life. As psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, observed, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Research in positive psychology has found that a meaningful role can lead to a positive attitude, increased happiness, sense of belonging, sense of purpose, increased self-worth and promotes self-accountability.

At Crestwood we embrace the need for meaningful roles and it is one of our four Pillars of Recovery that also includes Hope, Empowerment, and Spirituality. It is defined as positive identities within the places we live, learn, work and socialize, which creates a sense of purpose and value. Crestwood’s healing and resiliency-building campuses promote this in many ways. The people we serve contribute daily to our campuses, including co-creating schedules of activities, participating in the functions of the day and educating staff, either through co-presenting at staff education meetings or participating in change of shifts.

Meaningful roles also come from those we are in a relationship with. Our clients are recognized and valued for their relationships as a roommate, parent, child and community member. As a community member, our clients contribute in positive ways such as volunteering at local homeless shelters or animal rescue groups. Clients often also take on the role of teacher or mentor as they come together to support their fellow residents in their healing. Our Crestwood campuses also provide opportunities for meaningful roles through shared group activities such as art shows and sporting events like the Crestwood Olympics, where more than seven campuses get together for fun and friendly competition.

At Crestwood, opportunities for meaningful roles for our clients do not stop at their discharge. Clients are supported in their recovery and wellness journey by being given the chance to come back and contribute through sharing their personal experiences of recovery at our campuses, volunteering in our communities or continuing with a job they achieved through Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network. Patty Blum, Crestwood Executive Vice President, says, “Supporting and encouraging meaningful roles at our campuses helps to provide our clients with a connection to their values, ethics and higher selves. All of these responsibilities -great or small- give their daily existence purpose, and as such, become their meaningful roles.”

Contributed by:
Cindy Mataraso, Director of Operations
Crestwood Sacramento Home Office


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The Healing Power of Drumming

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Drumming has been a tool used in many cultures for many things, from communication, holistic rituals, community gatherings, and healing.  People have had an intimate connection with the drum since discovering that the beat of the drum is analogous to the beat of the human heart.  As a universal, vibrational language, the drumbeat communes with the Earth and all of her creatures.

There have been numerous research studies conducted about the power of drumming and the significant effects it can have on the human spirit and body.  Drumming is now being used to help people with Alzheimer’s, children with autism, and teens with emotional dysregulation.  Large corporations have also used drumming to help employees focus attention and improve spirits.

Research further suggests that drumming can serve as a distraction from pain and grief by enabling communication between the cerebral hemispheres, using the physical transmission of rhythmic energy.  This allows one to connect with their own spirit at a deeper, more intimate level, making it easier to access feelings of insight, understanding, certainty, conviction and truth.

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Drum circles provide an opportunity to connect with groups of like-minded people, including those struggling to find their own personal resonance.  Individuals may make this connection by listening and feeling the pulse of the drum, and working out their own personal rhythm in contribution.

Sound vibrations have been known to resonate through every cell in the body, freeing energy blockages that can form as a result of unexpressed feelings and emotions.  Drumming helps emphasize self-expression, which can aid in an individual’s ability to address emotional health and issues with conflict and even violence.  Participants are given the opportunity to present and receive positive feedback.  It can help us find our center and become more mindful of the present.  Playing in a drum circle can create a magical paradox of moving from the awareness of being out of one’s body to being firmly grounded in the moment.  Group drumming can complement traditional talk therapy, providing a vehicle for personal transformation, as well as community building.

Pam Akins, LMFT, a Clinical Consultant at Crestwood American River Psychiatric Health Facility, said, “Witnessing the responses of our clients to participation in a drum circle has been a personal growth experience for me.  As a clinician, I have had to give up control of the circle and allow the drummers to take what was needed and give as they were able to.  The main attraction is the drum, center of the circle and the heart of healing.  In the PHF setting, some clients are active participants, while others may be observers, but it is evident that some type of shift occurs with everyone involved, even if only momentarily.”

“The most common initial response is that the client does not know how to play a drum or keep a rhythm, but, once an attempt is made, I can see the client respond to the beat that they create, and start to become increasingly more confident.  Instruments are eagerly shared and exchanged.  The circle creates unity and a sense of community among the participants.  Playing along and sharing their hearts, helps the group become centered and calm,” explained Pam.

The experience of conducting a drum circle at a PHF, with clients who are struggling with finding wholeness, has shown Pam and the staff the powerful, amazing and positive effect that beating on a hollowed wooden circle, covered by a tightly stretched membrane, can have.

Contributed by:
Pam Akins, LMFT, Clinical Consultant, Crestwood American River PHF
and
Nancy Soncrant, Campus Administrator, Crestwood American River


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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