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Danny interviews Sandstone Care’s Program Director, Sarah Fletcher. Sarah shares how she works with families to support them and their needs at Sandstone Care through our individualized treatment programs.
Danny Colella: Hey, what’s up everybody? Hi, my name is Danny Colella and today you are at the Sandstone Care live broadcast of Inspire and Empower Change and today I’m at the Interlocken location with Sarah Fletcher who is the program director here at Sandstone Care. Say hi to everybody in the audience.
Sarah Fletcher: Hi.
Danny Colella: Is this one of your first live videos?
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah.
Danny Colella: I love it. I love it, and what we really want to talk about today is is treatment going to fix my child? It’s important for us to communicate what process is through Sandstone Care when it comes to treatment and I think, Sarah, it goes without saying that maybe in the back of a lot of parents’ minds, whether they say it or not, when they come here, they’re thinking, “Okay, are you going to fix my child?” Does that come up a lot?
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, absolutely.
Danny Colella: And what do you say to some parent who’s thinking, “Are you going to fix my child?” What do you typically tell them?
Sarah Fletcher: I think we start with that your child’s not broken. So in this sense, can you fix my child implies that there’s something wrong with your child to begin with or that your child’s in a broken state, and so at Sandstone we really try to educate that your child’s not broken, they don’t need to be fixed. This really comes from a space of your child struggling with mental health or substance use. They’re asking for help. They’re reaching out and they just don’t know how to verbalize it or communicate. So, I think the biggest piece of educating families is just kind of working with them to understand that there is no way to fix your child because your child’s not broken.
Danny Colella: Amen.
Sarah Fletcher: Through this process, engaging the entire family system, we work to build up a family dynamic and teach skills and just provide psychoeducation to help families understand that there are ways to make changes and there are ways to build healthy lifestyle choices, but it doesn’t have to do with giving your child an ultimatum or an ultimate fix.
Danny Colella: I love that, and when it comes to the program, so when people come in and they’re really curious about the program and if parents are wondering sort of what’s my involvement, what would you say to a parent if they’re asking sort of, “What’s my involvement in this process then?” So basically, what you are saying beforehand is there really is no negotiation. I want to know the parents are going to be involved in treatment, right?
Sarah Fletcher: Absolutely.
Danny Colella: It’s a necessity, it’s required for parents to be involved in the treatment. So, what does that look like for a parent of an adolescent or young adult?
Sarah Fletcher: You’re absolutely right. Sandstone Care is a family-based program and so our family component is huge and it’s I would argue one of the most important parts of our program. When parents come in and they ask about their involvement, they are the biggest piece, and often times, the biggest support system in their child’s life and so we talk about the importance of engaging in our multi-family program which talks about building coping skills for the family.
Sarah Fletcher: So, when your child learns their coping skills in treatment, they go home and they have a safe place to practice them with someone who’s also learning the same things. So, we really function from a place that everyone is in a parallel process while they’re here, that everyone is going to have to do the work. This isn’t a place where you’re going to drop off your child, we’re going to do some work with him or her, and then they’re going to go home and they’re going to change their entire behavior pattern because we know that doesn’t work. We also know that a lot of times, kids are mirroring, and young adults too, are mirroring learned behavior patterns.
Sarah Fletcher: So, when parents come in, it’s absolutely a non-negotiable. They need to be present, they need to be engaged, they need to practice that healthy conflict and open communication. I tell parents a lot that conflict is a normal part of a healthy family dynamic. No conflict in a family is extremely unhealthy, or people aren’t being truthful and honest.
Sarah Fletcher: People in families should not have the same opinions all the time. They should have different perspectives, but it’s learning how to engage in healthy conflict and healthy communication patterns that really create long-term success, and being able to make mistakes, and then learn from them, and then dialogue about them is really what we try to teach and encourage parents to do.
Sarah Fletcher: Through the multi-family group, they’re going to be doing individual sessions, they’re going to be engaging in parent support groups, they’re going to be doing the work just as much as their child or young adult is.
Danny Colella: And that’s important because again, this is about repairing the whole family unit.
Sarah Fletcher: Totally.
Danny Colella: Because when there is mental health or substance abuse problems in the house, it affects everybody.
Sarah Fletcher: Oh yeah.
Danny Colella: It’s a whole dynamic. It affects the whole family unit, so what about if a child comes here, they go through the program and what about if they relapse?
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah. I have actually gotten that question a couple of times as well, so what happens-
Danny Colella: Yeah, what if this doesn’t work, right?
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, what happens if my kid completes the program and then they relapse and my return question is, “Your kid is going to live their life, and six months after they complete this program, maybe they engage in some unhealthy behaviors, maybe they revert back to struggling. What are you going to do as a parent?” This is one of the reasons that engaging in this family program and family services at Sandstone is just so incredibly important.
Sarah Fletcher: I’m going to expect a parent and family system to not revert back to their old, unhealthy behaviors either. So, if your child starts to struggle again, you go through your list of healthy coping skills that you’ve learned and you’re going to step in, and you’re going to say, “How can I support you? What is happening for you right now? Where are your cravings at, and what are we going to do together?”
Sarah Fletcher: I think that’s a big misconception is that if my child starts to struggle again, nothing worked and it’s all a loss. Absolutely not. People struggle every day. We change every day, and so it’s going back to the fact that this is not a crisis. It can feel like a crisis, but we have to ground ourselves, practice those coping skills that you learned while you were in programing, and remind your loved one to practice their coping skills as well.
Sarah Fletcher: The things that we learn and the things that are taught through Sandstone’s program are lifelong skills. They’re not a quick fix, and I think it goes back to that funky word of like, “How can we fix this?” It’s a lifelong journey, and the skills, and hopefully the communication patterns, and the new behavioral patterns that are learned through treatment are going to be carried long term. There’s always going to be bumps in the road, but there’s always ways to come back from that.
Danny Colella: I love that. If you’re watching live, make sure you say hi. Let us know you stopped by. If you are a graduate, or an alumni, or a family member, or someone who’s gone through the Sandstone program, the point of this broadcast is to show people that there is support, and to answer questions. So, if you would love to talk about the important and life-changing things that Sandstone Care has done in your life, we would encourage you to comment that below, and let others know the help that you can get when you’re here because what I loved to hear you say was it’s learning. Just like everything in life, if you don’t practice what you learn-
Sarah Fletcher: Totally.
Danny Colella: You forget it, and then you revert back to the original way before you learned it. What I really honed in on when you were talking about that, it’s about understanding that things can be unlearned, that you can start to get lazy on skills, and if that happens then you just need to be reminded to sort of start focusing on those skills again.
Sarah Fletcher: Totally, and practicing acceptance that it’s okay that you’re not perfect, and it’s okay if you forget some of those skills, but being kind to yourself and remembering that no one’s expecting anyone in this world to be perfect because it’s impossible. So, I think acceptance and spreading that inner peace is really important too.
Danny Colella: Yeah. So, if anybody at this Interlocken location in Broomfield, you’re typically one the first people they see when they come through here, right?
Sarah Fletcher: It’s true, yeah.
Danny Colella: So, what’s your role here when people come in? Do they see you right off the bat? Are you one of the first people they connect with?
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, after making that initial phone call, scheduling an assessment. I’m the program director obviously, but then I complete all of the clinical assessments that happen onsite as well. So, I’m kind of the first point of contact that any client, or perspective client, sees before they engage in services, and so I think it’s really important that when we build an initial relationship, it’s based on that acceptance and that non-judgment. I think it’s always okay to form opinions, but making sure that those opinions are for sure information seeking, and yeah, so then after they complete that assessment, then we talk about levels of care and what’s appropriate.
Danny Colella: I love that. So, this will be one of the first faces you see as you go through the program. If you’re a family member who’s stumbled upon Sandstone Care’s page and you’re watching this video, just know that when you pick up the phone and you come in to the Interlocken location, this is likely one of the first faces you’re going to see, and as you can tell, it’s an accepting face.
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, I hope so.
Danny Colella: You’re very accepting. You’ve done this a lot and I think it’s always important when we talk about family units and adolescence that we let people know that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay, and you’re not alone, and it may feel isolating at the moment because it’s not happening to their immediate friends circle, or, “Why is my friend’s kids not going through this?” But here, there’s a dire need for this. That’s why you guys exist, and you see it quite frequently.
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, all the time.
Danny Colella: Yeah. So just to kind of let you know if you’re a parent or a loved one on the other side of the lens, don’t be ashamed. There’s probably nothing you can tell Sarah that she hasn’t heard before, or anything that’s going to shock her because she understands, and I think we should always talk about how when you guys do your assessment, or you do your first phone call, Sandstone Care might not be the right first option for them.
Sarah Fletcher: Totally.
Danny Colella: So, you guys are really good about making sure that if you’re not a good fit, you sort of hand it off to other people, and not just hand off, but sort of deliver that person in a way to another referral source, right? Talk a little bit about when you find out things aren’t a great fit.
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the really unique things about Sandstone and our values, and what we hold dear is that we’re not above, or too good, or ashamed to say if a client comes in and they’re not a good fit, or we wouldn’t be the best fit for them, we’re not just going to walk you out the door and say good luck.
Sarah Fletcher: One of the things that we do in the assessment process is once it’s completed, clinically recommended for the best level of care, if that’s not Sandstone Care then we’re going to utilize our outreach and marketing team and we’re going to utilize people in the admissions department, and we’re going to make sure that we hook you up with resources that are appropriate. That could be a lower level of care, it could be a higher level of care, but I think the important thing is that once you’re [inaudible 00:10:38] … I always tell families this, that after the assessment, you’re going to have some sort of answer.
Sarah Fletcher: You’re going to have some sort of plan, and some sort of solution. Sometimes, coming in and feeling like you don’t have a place to go, that’s a really wonderful opportunity to have someone in front of you that’s going to take care of it for you, and that’s really what we do here is we make sure that clients are connected. We really value that golden thread. So, we want the appointment set. We want to make sure people are meeting with people in the community, individual therapists or psychiatrists, to make sure that they have the best fit for them.
Danny Colella: I love that. Well, thanks for spending time with us today on the live broadcast.
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, no problem Danny.
Danny Colella: And again, if you’ve watched this live, or stopped by on the replay, please comment and say hi. Let us know you stopped by. Let Sarah know she did a great job at her first live video.
Sarah Fletcher: Oh, thank you.
Danny Colella: And if you feel so inclined, share this content. The purpose of this is to answer a question for a family member, or someone who could be struggling right now, and might need that extra level of support, or just have somebody with some answers show up in their newsfeed, and that’s why we go to social media, to Facebook like this, in hopes that we can connect with somebody that needs it.
Danny Colella: If you know someone that might need it but you don’t want to tag them or put their name in this, then you can click share, send in Messenger, and you can send that on the back end and just let them know, “Hey. I was thinking about you. I know this program. It’s great. Maybe you should consider it.”
Danny Colella: So, if you want more information, just visit sandstonecare.com and you can learn everything you need to know, as well as scheduling assessments with Sarah, or anybody else at any other location. So, thanks today Sarah.
Sarah Fletcher: Yeah, thank you.
Danny Colella: And everybody enjoy the rest of your day.