I meet Jane in a cafe on Jalan Batu Belig, Bali for lunch, she is a statuesque, 33 year old blonde with a fizz of good humoured laughter in her eyes and it’s hard to believe that she was once, in her own words, ‘a desperate alcoholic’. In fact it’s almost impossible to see this now but as she sits talking candidly about her experiences as a drinker and during her almost 7 years of recovery, an authenticity and quiet self-confidence shines through that really can’t be questioned. But we are not here to speak of her renegade adventures in or out of recovery, even though they obviously richly inform the work she does, we are here to talk about the job she has been doing at Seasons luxury rehab, for the last 14 months. So she settles down with a big plate of food and tells me all about it with an infectious vitality and enthusiasm……
The first thing I do in the morning is call Revolver and get a large soy latte delivered to my house, I collect it in my PJ’s and retreat to bed to do my morning readings and read p86 and 88 of the Big Book of AA. You’d think I’d learn but every day is the same and I leave myself no time to get ready and always end up flying round the house thinking ‘I’m going to be late’, but somehow I’m punctual for work 98% of the time.
As I walk through the gates of the rehab, I try to speak a bit of Indonesian to the local staff and I always get greeted warmly, it always feels really good walking into work…… I’ve got a purpose for the day. We are a really close team and I know all the other staff well so when I get into the office I throw out some high fives and some Selamat Pagi action and pull up a chair to get the handover from the night staff.
This is where the support worker on night shift talks me through everything that I need to know about what is happening in the therapeutic community either procedural things or getting me up to speed about where clients are on their individual journeys. After this I go back through the last few days, especially if I haven’t been on shift, so that I have a good picture of what has been happening. Then I make myself a list of all the things I’ve got to deal with through the day and get myself organised with any materials I need for education and any of the relevant ‘Musts’ the clients are working on. These are an accountability check list that we give the clients, things that they must do throughout the week. Its Bali, so cleaning and washing is not on the agenda but there are things like ‘tidy your room’, ‘written work’, ‘personal hygiene’ and ‘collecting phone numbers’ from people in the AA and NA meetings we take the clients to in the evening.
After I’m sorted for the day ahead, I go down to the communal area to say ‘hi’ to the clients and talk through anything that is current for them. There is usually a lovely atmosphere down there at this time of day, it’s all relaxed and positive. Often, I see a couple of people working at the table on paperwork, a couple sunbaking or in the swimming pool reading recovery literature and maybe a few on the sofa having a coffee, a smoke and a chat. This is free time and although we encourage the group to stay together as much as possible we also respect the fact that they need their solo time so sometimes a few people are in their rooms.
The first thing on the client’s schedule is ‘check in’ which is run five days a week at 10am and is facilitated by the program co-ordinator and a member of the support staff. In this group we create a safe space for clients to explore their feelings and learn to express their needs. This might be about things that have happened in the past or things that are currently going on in the community. I personally think that clients haven’t learnt healthy ways to express their emotions, wants and needs and this is a really safe space to practice these skills. It’s really structured with prompt cards, feelings lists and cards with the guidelines but it’s never the same and the facilitators are there to keep things on track. It can be really serious but it’s not all doom and gloom, we also speak about successes and achievements and it really helps people to work on their self-esteem and confidence.
After group, I head back to the office to write up any fact based notes to help the team of staff including the therapist and other support staff members with the continuing care of the clients. It sounds cheesy, but these guys are really on a journey. After that I have lunch with the program coordinator sitting on the couches outside the office. It’s important for me to grab this bit of downtime before we hit the afternoon schedule.
At 1pm it is time for an educational group. These are different throughout the week, for example we have a PESE group on Monday’s which is all about the clients assessing themselves and their peers, then there is a Big Book group and Timeline group: all sorts of different things. There is a real balance throughout the day.
My personal favourite is the drama program I run on a Thursday. I taught drama for 9 years to everyone from disabled adults to 3 year old kids. And even when I’ve been teaching for independent dramatic arts organisations my focus has always on building esteem through esteemable acts with an emphasis on the individual’s growth during their experience.
This is a safe place where, once a week for an hour, they get to explore themselves, their bodies and their voices. This is really important because often their own bodies have been really unsafe places to inhabit. In this hour we do a whole range of things from kinda wild vocal warm ups to theatre sports where the clients really have to focus on working together. The whole idea of working together to achieve sobriety is a pretty fundamental element of the program here. During the feedback we do at the end of each portion of the group the clients have the opportunity to express what resonated with them, what caused them discomfort and how they have progressed since the last session. I rarely, if ever, have a client leave this class that doesn’t feel pretty happy, joyous and free.
After this group I have scheduled time to go through step work with clients that have been assigned to me. I’ve usually got a few that I’m working with individually as their appointed worker and this involves taking them through the NA or AA steps depending on what their poison was. At 4.40 the support worker who is on for the night comes in and we do another client handover and then I say goodbye with a big smile on my face, get on my bike and drive home.
It can be a long, really intense day so sometimes I struggle with having enough energy and at times, at the end of the shift, I’m tired because I gave more than I had. You have to be really present and have a great attention to detail. I find it necessary to have an energy and enthusiasm when I ‘m talking to people about their lives because it really matters. Outside of work I lead a busy, rich, full life so although I would love to go home and crash out in front of the TV and watch 4 episodes of something, in reality I am accountable for other things and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have to make time for the things that give me joy. For example, if I didn’t get my 4 sessions of yoga in a week, I would probably be an asshole and at work I’m dealing with people who suffer from a fatal illness so I have to be as balanced and together as possible.
Having said all that, I really, really enjoy seeing the lights come on in people’s eyes and watching the progress that happens in a relatively short space of time. I love the ‘Ah Ha’ moments when people suddenly catch on and I love seeing people get hope that life can be different and they can live and they can be happy. That stuff is amazing, simply a miracle.
Time to ask for help?
So, if you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and would benefit from the care provided by the experienced team at Seasons, the best drug and alcohol rehab in Asia, why not give one of the expert staff a call to talk through how they can help?