Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Recovery Blows in on the Winds of Change: Recovery Reinforcement Training Promotes a Healthier Environment for People Receiving Services and Staff

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Recovery Blows in on the Winds of Change: Recovery Reinforcement Training Promotes a Healthier Environment for People Receiving Services and Staff

Article excerpt

In our column in the February issue, we mentioned a training program used at Recovery Innovations, Inc. (formerly META Services) called Keeping the Recovery Skills Alive (KRSA). Because we had so many responses to that article, we thought you might be interested in learning more about the program and what prompted Chris to develop it. In this article we also share what some other KRSA users are experiencing and how KRSA is helping them maintain a recovery environment.

Since we can appreciate a pleasant climate more by knowing what an unfavorable one feels like, let's start there. Have you ever walked into a behavioral health environment where not even global warming could melt the surface freeze? It's the kind of place with a wind chill, instead of the warm and open hospitality needed for a recovery environment.

A recovery environment is welcoming and built on positive relationships. If we aim to promote recovery in our behavioral health services, then we need to ensure recovery and wellness practices are a part of our workplace climate. Are we treating the people we serve with hospitality, and how are we treating each other? Do people feel welcomed when they walk through our doors?

Recovery Innovations always has placed a high premium on the workplace environment and culture, but we found it took some purposeful, intentional work to keep the workplace positive. It seemed like a simple idea at first. Just train all the new employees on the importance of maintaining a positive environment. But the truth of the matter was that learning how to sustain this type of recovery environment required a systematic approach to continually reinforce recovery values.


The new-hire training, like most good training programs, excited staff about their newly learned recovery skills, but when they were on the job for a while, they began slipping back into old attitudes and behaviors. Ignoring employee behaviors like competitiveness, finger pointing, lack of accountability, negativity, and gossiping allowed them to spread and, before long, erosive attitudes and behaviors could be felt in the workplace environment. Anyone who walked through our doors felt the cold atmosphere.

We discovered that to maintain a recovery environment in the workplace, we needed to continually reinforce recovery training with our staff. This is when Chris started developing a set of simple lesson plans that could be taught at every weekly staff meeting, which was the beginning of KRSA. It was an instant hit at Recovery Innovations, and when other organizations found out about it, they wanted to use it too. We thought we might share with you how some of those organizations are using KRSA. Let's start with a coastal climate check in the East.

Kim Franklin, PhD, clinical director for Meridian Behavioral Health Services in Sylva, North Carolina, has her team leaders facilitate KRSA modules twice a month. Kim says, "The great thing about the KRSA program is that it helps staff maintain a level of mindfulness of recovery principles. The KRSA program also gives our staff permission to hold each other accountable while simultaneously helping them shift their focus to all the ways of being in a recovery environment." Kim's colleague, Julie Durham-Defee, district director of Meridian, says, "The KRSA program instills teamwork among my staff, and the conversation about recovery principles continues long after the KRSA sessions are over. …

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