Readers of this blog may know that my dog and I provide monthly pet therapy services on a volunteer basis at a couple of the local psychiatric and drug rehab centers. Of course, everything that goes on remains confidential and anonymous (better that way), but after several visits, I have something to say to the teens/young adults in the program:
Dear young person in rehab,
While you pet my dog during our visits and speak wistfully of your own animals at home whom you obviously miss, I can’t help but wonder who or what brought you here. Sure, there might be some visible clues. However, after about 3 minutes of conversation, I can probably guess exactly why you are here and where you are in your treatment program. I’m neither shrink nor medical personnel, but merely a person whose entire family went through hell some 25 years earlier due to another family member’s drug addiction. Believe me, I had to work through some long forgotten resentment and other issues before I ever agreed to sign on to be a regular visitor with my canine pal.
As you work your way through the treatment plan and work on yourself, I wonder if you realize just how difficult it was for your parent or guardian to admit that you needed help and then to find a way to get you that help? Residential treatment doesn’t come cheap. It rivals a semester or year of college in cost – possibly more – depending on the facility.
Teens are teens, but whether you believe it or not, it really isn’t a status symbol to have been a guest of every residential treatment facility in the area. I must admit, however, that I really appreciate the intel on where not to take my dog for pet therapy visits. Patients at another facilities expressed similar sentiments. The info has been duly noted for future reference.
Do what the clinical staff tell you to do. If you want more freedom, then do what is required to earn those privileges. Blame no one but yourself if you continue to remain on close supervision, my friend. The counselor does not have it in for you. They really do want you to succeed, even if you think they are the biggest burr on your backside right now. They have a job to do. You see us chatting outside at the end of our visit? Most of the time it’s about you and how you all needed our visit. That’s why I give up half of my Sunday to come visit your facility.
My dearest hope for you is that you take advantage of your time in the program and make changes for the better. I’d love nothing more for you to stop and say hi if you run into us at the park or at Boomer’s favorite ice cream parlor.
Mrs. Kent & Boomer