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Role of advocate in new outpatient center will emphasize life skills

July 21, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A new partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient program that will open next month in Santa Monica, Calif., will rely heavily on building a one-on-one relationship between a patient and what the organization is calling a “recovery advocate.” The advocate's role will not mirror that of a 12-Step sponsor, but instead will involve assisting individuals with integrating recovery and basic life skills such as applying for a job or overcoming bad credit.

“Oftentimes these issues are what keep our clients stuck,” says Jennifer Musselman, who will serve as Thrive Treatment's chief operating officer when the outpatient facility opens in mid-August. A maximum of 49 patients will be served at the PHP and IOP levels in the coed facility, with the possibility of an evening program being added in 2016.

Clayton Ketchum, whose background includes establishing a young-adult recovery community in West Los Angeles, is the founder of Thrive Treatment, which will accept both self-pay and out-of-network insurance arrangements. Musselman says that the recovery advocates likely will be culled from Thrive Treatment's own alumni and from individuals whom Ketchum has personally mentored. An attempt will be made to match the interests of the patient and the advocate.

“If the patient has aspirations to go to college, we will find someone who is in college or is graduating,” says Musselman, who previously worked at CLARE Foundation in Southern California.

Other life skills areas that the advocates are likely to work on with patients include budgeting and addressing legal/justice issues that may impede a full life in recovery. The advocates will address subjects that go beyond the purview of what a therapist typically will focus on with patients, says Musselman.

Other leaders

Musselman says she was attracted to the new venture in part because of Ketchum's ability to build supportive communities for individuals in recovery. She expects that he will have an active mentoring role in the organization. “He is almost like a house Dad,” she says.

The co-medical directors of Thrive Treatment are Matthew Torrington, MD, a board-certified addiction specialist and clinical research physician with the Friends Research Institute and UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, and Ryan Peterson, MD, who is board-certified in both addiction medicine and pain management.

The organization will focus largely on young-adult treatment, as expressed in its mission statement: “Our mission is to provide the landscape for young adults to rec-create their lives, and re-envision their dreams. To help people find purpose and to rekindle passion.”

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