Clementine South Miami Clinical Director Bertha Tavarez, PsyD discusses the “Recovery ABC’s in this week’s blog post. Dr. Tavarez explains how she and her team use the framework to help guide adolescents on their recovery journey.
As a clinical director of Clementine, my team and I guide adolescents in sculpting a recovered identity that will sustain them through the later stages of treatment and beyond. As you can imagine, helping carve out this identity presents with additional challenges because adolescents in general are just beginning to individuate from their families and develop a standalone “I am.” What follows this “I am” statement can set an individual on a path toward wellness or self-destruction.
The Recovery ABC’s is the undercurrent of living a recovered life. At Clementine, adolescents learn to self-define these terms, notice when they are in alignment or in conflict with them, and learn to communicate these terms to their loved ones. They are the foundation that will stabilize nutritional and clinical treatment gains.
When an adolescent faces a challenge with accountability, they usually find out through feedback that is difficult to internalize. Over time, it becomes such an intolerable value, that many clients cannot access it through feelings of shame, guilt, and victimization. What we teach clients is that accountability is not a bad word. Accountability does not mean blame. Accountability in its purest forms means taking part ownership over a situation so that it can serve as a stepping stone to self-efficacy in resolution.
Teaching an adolescent about the importance of boundaries goes in alignment with their drive toward individuation. Adolescents enter into a phase of noticing emotional proximity in relation to others and are guided in vocalizing their experiences with physical and emotional closeness within the family system and social settings. For example, normalizing the need for “space” and verbalizing, “no” in an effective manner are self-protective actions that can help clients hold relationships with integrity and safety.
When adolescents experiment with new value-systems, there is a period of time in which they will verbalize recovery-oriented statements, but not be able to carry them through to action. It is important that actions are held to the standard of values-congruency. Consistency is seen as an element of building trust with the self and others. When an adolescent is struggling with consistency, it is our job as providers to bring this to their awareness, challenge conflicting behaviors, and reinforce their mastery over consistency in all the areas of their recovery. Adolescents are also taught to differentiate consistency from perfection so that their motivation is not hindered by unattainable recovery goals.