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Keys to a harmonious work culture in a treatment center

September 29, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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In preparing for their Moments of Change conference workshop on the anatomy of a healthy addiction treatment center, two leaders at Delphi Behavioral Health Group identified organizational culture and clinical supervision as facilities' most critical areas of focus.

Thomas Sibilia, CAC, and Rob Cole, LMHC, QS, offered in their Sept. 26 session a number of takeaways to assist providers in creating more harmonious workplaces. Sibilia, director of program integrity for Delphi, which operates eight facilities in Florida and California, presented these among his suggestions in the area of culture:

  • Make sure every staffer thoroughly knows the center's philosophy. “Staff split” occurs when different employees give different answers to a patient's question. The facility's mission and vision statements should be posted prominently in the center, Sibilia said.

  • Address rivalry among the various work roles in a center. This usually stems from a lack of understanding of one another's jobs. A clinician might think a marketer has it easy, until trying to market for a day. “Have everybody swap roles,” Sibilia suggested.

  • Be aware of the needs of the often underappreciated behavioral health techs. “Your behavioral health techs spend the most time with the client and have the least amount of authority,” said Sibilia, who started in the field as a tech 15 years ago. It remains a difficult role to fill in an organization because good techs are quickly promoted and bad ones get weeded out, he said.

  • Don't hire close friends, sponsors, or sponsees. Also, standardize salaries for the various roles in the center, and be careful about overloading the center's “rock stars” with work, which accelerates burnout.

Cole, who serves as executive director of Delphi's Arete Detox center in Broward County, Fla., said too much clinical supervision of counselors happens on the fly in many treatment centers. “I think that really sends the wrong message to the supervisee,” he said.

While some supervision tends to be too dictatorial and not focused enough on clinicians' strengths, other supervisors hesitate to review weaknesses with their supervisees, Cole said.

He added that a supervisor has to have a passion for counseling, but never should confuse supervision with therapy. Also, “The most effective way [to supervise] is to let the supervisee watch you,” he said.