All Kinds of News for January 10, 2018
Talking about going to, or being in, a therapeutic transition program can be a challenge for emerging adults. Learning how to balance between saying enough and too much about the next phase of treatment is a complicated task. Onward Transitions, a transition program in Portland, Maine works with young adult applicants and members (clients) to learn how to have appropriate and meaningful strategies for having this conversation with their friends, acquaintances and extended family members.
Clinical Outreach Director Darrell Fraize recommends that emerging adults think about their stories in two different categories: the abridged and the unabridged. "The abridged story is a more nuts and bolts, functional and quick way of explaining what you're doing in ways that most people can relate to," says Fraize. "The unabridged is saved for more intimate, time-tested and/or therapeutic common ground relationships," he adds.
Duirng the admissions process, Fraize reports that many applicants struggle with how to talk with acquaintances and casual friends about moving to a new place. Typical challenges include anticipatory anxiety and misappropriated shame. "Often times we are talking with folks who are in a therapeutic setting, so they have a peer group who gets it. There in the safety of that group they can employ the unabridged template if you will, to say things like: 'I'm going there to continue to get my life back together' or 'I just can't go back to school or home or where I was living before.' Furthermore they are operating in a protected space when acknowledging things like 'I know I need continued support'". Onward Transitions will at the same time help the emerging adult phrase these same type of statements for people who might have a harder time understanding or receiving this type of information. "In these situations," Fraize adds "when applicants are beginning to reacquaint themselves with the world outside of treatment we encourage emerging adults to phrase things more like 'I'm looking for a new start and I've always wanted to live here' or 'There's just so much going on here in this city or neck of the woods that I had to check it out.' It may seem hokey, but we hear from folks that it works."
Once they have arrived at the program, emerging adults begin to tweak their abridged and unabridged stories to provide more specificity. "If you're out in town and meeting people you can use some of the same strategies from the admissions process, but adding bits of color can help emerging adults form some initial social connections. Things like 'I'm going to school and studying this thing or that' or 'I was looking to get out on my own and work for a while and I found this job doing this thing' seem to work well for folks once they're meeting people outside the program and around town."
Fraize adds that one of the challenges that emerging adults have at this point is discerning between who gets to hear the unabridged story once they've settled into their new place. "Someone might begin to feel comfortable too soon in a new relationship and want to share some personal history. we recommend they don't lie, but that they take a protected and protracted approach and say things like 'You know, I'm just learning how to do the adulting thing'. And that over time, they might add some unabridged elements like 'I've got some anxiety that I've been working on' or 'I can be a really black and white thinker sometimes.' These statements act as feelers that the emerging adult can then come back to the therapist, staff or group and discuss and get some perspective on before forging ahead. Many of our members are in long-standing relationships and have disclosed to people outside the program that they are getting some support from 'a program' or 'a therapist, a coach, a nutritionist' or something they are comfortable with.
Onward Transitions has heard from former members that they have had success with both abridged and unabridged variants of their stories post-discharge. "Typically they will be in abridged situations where they can brag a little bit about how they learned to be more independent, while going to school or working or volunteering. Then they can segue into adding more details like 'While I was living in Portland I learned to bake a chicken, get my oil changed, sign up for health insurance and get a PCP, balance my time AND my budget (well a little better anyway), make some new friends and got closer to my family,'" Fraize recalls. "The unabriddged stories have tended to not be much different other than offering to people that they got support from a program while they were figuring things out. The most beautiful part here is that they own their successes, and really see themselves as change agents in their lives."
About Onward Transitions
Onward Transitions is a comprehensive, non-residential living service that supports emerging adults ages 18-29 living independently in the neighborhood of their choice in Portland, Maine. Our members choose and live in their own apartment from day one. They do not ever live with us. Members' challenges include anxiety, depression, executive functioning and meeting the requirements of moving towards independence.