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Nationally regarded center establishes five-day booster program

July 14, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Father Martin’s Ashley cites demand from alumni, referral sources

Responding to some individuals’ need for a post-treatment “refresher course” in recovery principles, the Father Martin’s Ashley treatment facility in Maryland has launched a weeklong day program that it is calling “Renew at Ashley.” The first five-day program took place in June; Renew at Ashley is open both to Ashley alumni and those who received their primary treatment elsewhere.

The self-pay program ($1,500 for all program materials and activities on the Ashley campus in Havre de Grace) is designed for adults with at least three consecutive months of sobriety who are looking to learn new recovery support techniques and to renew their passion for lifelong recovery. Ashley’s clinical program director emphasizes that it is important for the program not to be conducted in a 24-hour residential format because it operates in the realm of support, not treatment.

“If people stayed here overnight, they might find themselves back in the mode of, `I’m in treatment,’” says clinical program director Christopher Shea.

However, participants do have some informal interaction with clients who are in Ashley’s primary residential treatment program. While the lectures and group discussions in the day program are segregated from what primary treatment clients experience, the two populations share facilities at meal times and in yoga and music therapy classes, for example.

“Current patients can see people making recovery work,” Shea says. “This is a way to acknowledge in a real concrete way that this is a chronic disease.”

Shea says several parties were responsible for bringing the new program to fruition. Ashley alumni were looking for a booster program that was more intensive than a one-day program on weekends that the facility had offered. In addition, referral sources sought a refresher program both for clients and for clinicians in recovery who might be struggling under the demands of their jobs. Ashley’s description of its program states that “if you are a treatment professional in recovery, this can be a perfect way to re-center yourself and recharge your batteries.”

Shea adds that the program’s clinical staff played an important role in designing the day program, which takes place Monday through Friday (the next program is scheduled for late September). All of the counselors assigned to Renew at Ashley have an advanced certification in the relapse prevention curriculum administered by nationally known relapse prevention program developer Terence Gorski.

A typical day for a Renew at Ashley participant involves an hourlong lecture and a two-hour directed group session in the morning, followed after lunch by another lecture, a rotation of various activities including Big Book study and relaxation time, and another group therapy session. Participants stay in nearby hotels and are given a list of nighttime activities in the area; they are encouraged to attend 12-Step meetings in the community or organize their own as well.

Shea said he could not answer when asked whether the participants in the June program included U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.). It has been reported that Kennedy, who is in recovery, recently attended the Father Martin’s Ashley facility after individuals close to him warned him to address signals that they feared could trigger a relapse to substance use.

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