Here is a letter from our therapist, Spencer Evans. Spencer has been apart of Ascend since 2009 and has his MSW from Brigham Young University.
When asked by Mallie to write about something I am passionate about with work I scan through my normal go to’s. Experiential therapy. It’s awesome, amazing how much we can learn about ourselves through action. Psychodrama. Takes one to a level of healing that I’ve seen unmatched. Process groups. A solid platform to learn accountability and to give and receive honest feedback about how we are perceived by others in the world, an uncommon experience in day to day life. These are the modalities that first come to mind when I think of helping one heal from curveballs that life inevitably throws. I have studied these approaches and find them to be vital. But as I sit down to write, this is not the direction I am pulled to write about…
It is impossible to work at Ascend and not grow as an individual. Knowledge of self and life inevitably increase through hard work. Ascend has taught me something more valuable than any of the modalities I mentioned above. Here I have learned the value of relationships. I’ve learned that patients are not to be plugged into a therapeutic algorithm, taking a cookie cutter approach was taught to shy away from.
When I sit with a client in individual or group session, I remind myself that this isn’t just an addict that needs to get clean and sober. I remind myself that this is a person, a daughter or son, mother or father, a person with interests and talents, someone who’s been tricked and hijacked by something cunning and baffling that needs help to come back to life. Rather than an algorithm, I try to learn about this person, learn from them. Seeing them as a person and letting them see me as a person is what I’ve learned to do here. When this happens, I see growth. Not just increased insight, but genuine, life changing growth. Not just more ability to stay sober, but problems and issues that existed before the substance abuse, begin to heal. Creating this genuine relationship allows me to have deep care for someone I am working with. When the relationship is there, a client will let me into their sacred ground, we become vulnerable, sharing with me parts of themselves they swore they would never share with another person. There is a mutual trust that allows for healing.
Having been a client at Ascend 9 years ago I cannot tell you any modalities the therapists used. I remember some moments from sessions and groups. Some moments of increased insight have remained. Not much remains of the details of the therapeutic process. What I do remember are the relationships. I can still remember every employee that worked there while I was a patient, from the CEO to psych techs. I remember at least one life lesson from every staff member. These relationships are what created the real shift in my journey. This is my aim as a therapist, after this the rest will follow.