A Day in the Life of Bellwood – Part Two
Après Lunch to Lights Out
Hopefully, you have had an opportunity to read part one of our blog, A Day in the Life of Bellwood. Rise and Shine to the Noon Day Break will have led you through a typical morning at Bellwood Health Services, concluding at the lunch hour. As previously mentioned, lunch, and all other meals and snacks are as important as every other component of Bellwood’s holistic treatment model.
After lunch, activities shift from the intense cognitive focus of the morning’s lectures and groups to sessions that are more practical, individual, and physically-focused. Between 1:00-2:00, your time will be less structured. Depending on your program and timeline, you might have an acupuncture session or individual appointments with your therapist or recovery counsellor at this time. Or, you might just have a free hour to rest, enjoy a walk around the grounds, or work on some of your session assignments.
Once your lunch and rest period are over, your afternoon’s activities between 2:00-4:15 will be shaped by the program in which you are participating. This is the time when your sessions will focus on the issues and recovery tools specific to the substance or behaviour with which you are struggling. Whether your primary treatment area relates to substance abuse, problem gambling, sex addiction, eating disorders, or addiction with PTSD, you will be involved in specialized groups and sessions with other clients dealing with these similar issues. Some examples of these sessions include therapy groups, educational lectures and films, expressive artwork, money management and budgeting sessions, and collage session. There are many different things happening during this time period, but your weekly schedule will always clearly show you where you need to be at all times.
Individual appointments with your therapist, recovery counsellor, or physician may be scheduled during this or other times throughout the day. The appointments are arranged based on individual needs; the number of sessions you receive during your treatment program will vary based on your progress.
An important program that takes place during the afternoon is our three-week Relapse Prevention Treatment Program. If the program you are participating in is longer than 4 ½ weeks, you will automatically receive this important small group component. You will learn to recognize triggers, risk factors, and early warning signs of slipping back into your former habits and behaviours. Bellwood counsellors will help you identify specific aspects of your lifestyle, circumstances, and outlook that may need to be changed, removed or added in order for you to build a strong foundation for your recovery. Even if you did not initially choose a program length that included the relapse prevention component, you always have an option to request a three week extension so you can take advantage of this program.
All of our programming is designed with a clinical focus. We want each part of your day to be a healing and learning experience within a larger part of a therapeutic community.
A Day in the Life of Bellwood – Part One
Rise and Shine to Noon Day Break
One of the most frequent questions people ask us is, “What will I be doing while I am at Bellwood?” Considering that the frame of reference for residential addiction treatment programs for many people consists of movies and reality television shows, it is no wonder the average person would not know what to expect. Over the course of this two-part blog, we hope to paint a helpful picture of the morning and afternoon schedules, routines, and experiences that make up the two parts of a typical day in the life of Bellwood.
Before we begin, it is important to know that Bellwood’s programs are based on a holistic treatment model. This model looks at addiction and recovery from the integrated perspective of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. This means that program sessions and activities all revolve around this holistic approach. From the beginning to the end of the day, you will see how these themes are at the core of every scheduled activity.
For most Bellwood clients, the day begins at 7:30 with a morning stretch, designed to get everyone loosened up and ready for the day ahead. Of course, some people prefer an earlier and more robust start to the day, and can be found in the fitness room as early as 6 am.
Breakfast is served in the Bellwood Bistro at 8:00 am, and is the first meal in the daily schedule of three meals and three snacks. Each of these meals and snacks is required, signifying the importance of nutrition and healthy eating in the recovery process. Healthy eating is important for all of our clients to correct nutritional deficiencies and promote physical and mental recovery.
Free time is available after breakfast until 8:45 am, when formal programs begin with Reflections. It is a special time set aside to help the community prepare themselves for the day ahead. Led by a senior member of the client community and a Bellwood Program Assistant, you hear a message of inspiration and any special announcements for the day.
Reflections is followed by our daily Physician Lecture, which is delivered by one of Bellwood’s doctors from 9:00-10:00. These lectures are tools to help you begin to understand the inner workings of addiction and recovery. There is a wide range of lectures that include topics such as the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, the effects of substances and behaviours, and recovery tools. The Physician Lectures are one of the most popular aspects of programming.
The Physician Lecture is followed by the first of three required daily nutritional breaks from 10:00-10:20. Having just participated in a heavy knowledge-based lecture, you appreciate the opportunity to relax and enjoy your morning snack.
Next up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:20-12:20 is Group Therapy, one of the cornerstones of our program. When you are admitted to our program, you become part of a small group which is led by your primary therapist. Each group consists of a diverse range of individuals: men and women, older and younger, businessmen, mothers, soldiers, or nurses. Individuals in the group come to Bellwood for different reasons, such as drug or alcohol addiction, eating disorders, problem gambling sex addiction, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Addiction can affect anyone, does not pick and choose, and the group composition reflects this. Group Therapy is also one of our highest rated sessions, a powerful tool where many breakthroughs are made and support is provided. The sessions can sometimes be very intense; you will have the opportunity to express your feelings and examine the reasons for your feelings, all within the confidential and caring setting of your small group. Group members become accountable to each other for their behaviours and help each other develop new ways of behaving and thinking.
What happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays during this time? Other morning sessions consist of a variety of practical teaching sessions relating to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Relapse Prevention, and Communication. During the CBT sessions, you learn about ways of thinking that better serve you in recovery. For example, we all make assumptions or mental shortcuts about people and events. Sometimes these assumptions make us feel bad about ourselves (e.g. “I’m no good at anything…”) resulting in negative feelings that may perpetuate self-medication or other problematic behaviours. CBT tools get us to reappraise situations in a more accurate or realistic way (e.g. “Maybe I struggle with some things, but I am good in others…).” The Relapse Prevention sessions focus on tools and techniques for managing triggers and situations in order to avoid relapse. These sessions are followed by a half hour of meditation, and a chance to decompress after a morning of significant insight and activity.
Lunch is served at 12:20 in the Bellwood Bistro. During your time at Bellwood, you will enjoy a wide selection of menus. The main entrée includes both a meat and vegetarian option, there is always soup available, and a creative salad bar. On Group Therapy days, you can enjoy an added treat – dessert! During this time on Fridays, you can celebrate with the week’s graduating clients as they receive their Bellwood medallions and everyone’s best wishes.
This brings us to the end of the morning schedule. If you have the feeling that our program has a look and feel of a high school timetable, you are right! For most of our clients, this type of structure is a welcome change from the chaos of their lives before they came to Bellwood. You may have also noticed that the morning sessions are very cognitively-focused. If you are like most people, you are most energized and able to focus and retain information in the morning. We kept that in mind as we developed the schedules. You will notice that many of the afternoon programs take on a different focus. Stay tuned for part two of this blog, Après Lunch to Lights Out, as we walk through the second half of a day at Bellwood Health Services