Liz Roberts, 32, from Queensland originally came to Bali on holiday in January 2017 and the last thing that she thought would happen happened. The universe conspired to offer her a job running a drug and alcohol treatment centre here on the Island of the Gods.
She attended an impromptu interview at Seasons Bali and she was such a great candidate, she took up the post as the program coordinator the following week. This is not a task for the faint of heart and Liz has proved herself anything but since taking the reins. She holds a BA (Hons) specialising in Immigration Policy and Indonesian language and is currently studying for a PG Dip in Addiction and Mental Health.
Liz worked as a Case Manager for the Hader Clinic in Queensland, another of the Seasons Hader Group’s rehabs, from 2016 to 2017 and was recommended for her current position by her manager there. She also recently celebrated 8 years of recovery in a 12 Step Fellowship.
Sitting on the sofa outside the office at the Seasons facility with the sun glancing through the palm leaves I manage to grab five minutes of Liz’s precious time to chat about her role. As we talk various staff come in with queries about an impending client visit to the orphanage and other logistical concerns which she deals with in fluent Indonesian and with an authority belying her age. Other members of the clinical team including Tim the therapist also touch base about current concerns and stop by for a bit of team banter.
She said: “I have been learning Bahasa (Indonesian) since 2010 and it’s a real passion of mine. I learn with the teacher that comes in to do lessons with the western staff here at Seasons on a Wednesday and have private sessions on the weekend. I also learn through watching TV and speaking to the Balinese staff at work in Bahasa. I personally practise as much as I can and that is one of the great things about living here.”
“It makes communication a lot clearer and it’s not just about the language it’s about understanding the culture and it gives me a really different idea of what the staff are like personally that I wouldn’t have if I just spoke English.”
Kick Ass Morning Meditation
Every morning before work, she stresses the importance of doing some exercise. She said: “I go to the gym, surf or do Muay Thai. It just depends on the day but it is 100% important for me to do some exercise in the morning. I run so much better for the day if I do. It is my morning meditation.”
She then goes back to her apartment on Batu Belig and has breakfast. This is often the start of a busy working day for her. “Sometimes, before I even get to work I have phone calls that I have to deal with. It might be the nursing staff who want to run a detox or medication change past me or maybe there is someone waiting at the office who wants to self-discharge or is having a hard time and wants to talk it through.” She smiles.
An Internal Shift
“Every day is different.” she shrugged opening her palms to the sky, “and sometimes I walk into work and the clients and staff are laughing and there’s a really great atmosphere. The clients are accountable to each other, they are doing step work and wanting to get involved in community activities. When that happens it’s really rewarding and the way a therapeutic community should ideally work.”
She expands on this speaking glowingly of the Seasons’ current residents who have taken the initiative and want to do some volunteer work. “They came to us and wanted to do this so that’s why I’m in the middle of arranging a trip to the local orphanage in Canggu. The community are going to take rice, noodles and sporting equipment there and spend the day playing with the kids.” She said grinning proudly.
Dance like a Butterfly
Liz’s martial arts training stands her in good stead within the role of program coordinator, as a great deal of flexibility and fancy foot work is required. She explained: “This job really means having to think on your feet and respond to the needs of the community.”
“Usually the first thing I do when I get to the office is check my diary. If I am organised with this then the ad hoc stuff is so much easier to deal with! I constantly have to anticipate the unplanned.”
“Mondays are usually the day we go through medications and check that clients have what they need for the week. I also oversee the arrangements for any visa runs that need to be completed that week and make sure the clients have enough money in the safe.”
A Big Bag of Therapeutic Tools
Although Liz’s role is primarily managing both the Western and Indonesian staff and facilitating the smooth day to day running of the facility she is also responsible for making sure the right resources are available for each of the clients and that their changing needs are being met. She therefore needs to be fully aware of what is going on for each and every one of them.
She said: “I try to do at least one Check In group a week and I also oversee the educational schedule to make sure these are quality sessions that are directed specifically to the groups needs at the time. We have a big bag of therapeutic tools and it’s my job to make sure these are deployed as effectively as possible.”
These group sessions are held every morning at 10am during the week and are facilitated by members of the clinical team. Liz explains: “Check In is where the clients come together to talk about their feelings and offer support to each other. It’s really about developing communication skills.”
Educational sessions are a really important part of the program at Seasons Bali and include a wide range of topics about addiction and associated issues. These empower clients with knowledge about the nature of their disease and how best tackle it. These sessions are designed to be interactive and encourage the clients to see how the issues talked about affect them in their lives.
Liz explains that one of the Case Managers facilitated an ‘excellent workshop’ on King Baby (Queen Baby) earlier in the week. This term was coined by Tom Cunningham in a Hazelden pamphlet about the childish and entitled traits of the addict and alcoholic. Often addicts and alcoholics are emotionally stunted at the age when they first picked up substances and these personality traits can accelerate addiction or lead to relapse if left unaddressed.
Awakening New Passions
Another element of Liz’s role is aiding the client’s seamless transition from the residential program into the Transitional Housing/Outpatient Program or back home to their lives outside rehab. This is probably her favourite part of the job as she can see the hard work her charges have put in during their 28, 60 or 90 days really come to fruition.
She explained: “Recently I have discovered a real passion for helping to prepare clients for their transition home from rehab. This is a really important part of the treatment cycle and I love to help facilitate what they need at this stage. I give them goal setting exercises and tasks where they must get involved with the community outside rehab and health and fitness schedules”
“Rehab is a very structured environment and for the transition to be smooth you need to have a structure implemented to succeed. Stick to this and it gives you a pretty good life. I want to be able to give people the same opportunities that I had. These have served me well.” She said seriously.
Looking after No 1
In order to be the best that she can be Liz has to make sure that she looks after herself too. She said: “I’m a member of a 12 step fellowship and some days I have to manage myself. I have to remember that I’m a human in recovery too so it’s really important to look after myself in this role otherwise I have nothing to give to the community.”
After work Liz makes sure that she meets up with likeminded people acknowledging that even 8 years on ‘having that good support network is essential.’ She also takes time for her studies and participates in a wide range of sports and activities. Despite being a bit of an all action woman, she is also partial to a relaxing trip to the salon for a manicure, massage or hair spa.
If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol call our Client Liaison Team at Seasons Bali today for a free no obligation consultation.