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  • Adventure-based Counseling – Melanie Vaverchak, Residential Counselor

    822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. Our friends at the McCall Center and Help Inc. very cleverly decided to position our monthly interview right around the time of Give Local, Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills, which was really a master stroke. We want to introduce as our guest this time Melanie Vavrchak. this time, Melanie Vavracek. She’s a residential counselor at McCall Center and helping. Also joining us, and she’s going to chime in in a few minutes, about Give Local, Marissa Middlestad, who’s director of development and marketing at McCall and Help. Good morning, Melanie. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Glad to have you on. We’re going to talk about something different, and for me, this gets me excited because I’m an outdoor guy anyway. We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling.

    We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling. So this is something not all that new, but it’s a relatively growing concept at McCall. Let’s talk about what this is. So incorporating adventure-based counseling into substance abuse recovery planning, if you will, it has a number of benefits. Obviously, there are the physical and emotional and cognitive benefits of simply engaging in the outdoors, but these experiences give individuals in recovery a unique opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, to develop a sense of accomplishment, to sort of build to sort of build self-esteem and self-efficacy, if you will, in these supported adventure experiences that include things like, but are certainly not limited to, hiking, rock climbing, and even white water rafting.

    We hear about these sorts of adventures being good for people in general. that only seems natural that folks who are getting into recovery would also get those benefits extended to them in a big way. Oh for sure, you know, unfortunately along with substance use comes a lot of isolation so it doesn’t necessarily come as naturally for people in recovery as it does to us you know outdoor nerds you know so I had this You know, so I had this opportunity this past year to participate in three different adventure recovery outings with some of our clients.

    And I got to be honest, it was, it was transformational, you know, for all involved. And what was so cool about it was it, it didn’t matter what their background was or their it didn’t matter what their background was or their level of experience or you know in a lot of cases their initial hesitation you know if you will. Some people get a little bit iffy around nature. Oh yeah and you tell somebody who doesn’t go outside that they’re going whitewater rafting it’s terrifying for sure but it didn’t it didn’t really matter you know because everybody that was involved in these experiences it didn’t really matter, you know, because everybody that was involved in these experiences, it’s sort of this living tangible metaphor for accomplishing something, right?

    They’re walking away from these experiences with, you know, this sense of mastery, you know, with this renewed confidence they didn’t have before. they really are, most importantly probably, right, making that connection with something greater than themselves. You know, we talk about isolation, you know, and substance use, connecting to, you know, a higher power of some sort. You hear that a lot. Connecting with something greater than yourselves, especially in the outdoors, is really powerful.

    And not only are they doing that, but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. Well, we all want to get out and enjoy recess, especially when the weather is nice and everybody wants to get out and play. Much of what you folks do at McCall and help about group therapy has to do with that camaraderie, that sense that we’re all in it together.

    And that, of course, starts at the low end of things where you’ve got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. But let’s talk about the camaraderie got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. Let’s talk about the camaraderie when they get out and they embrace nature and the accomplishments you just talked about, that self of mastery as it were. Well you know, there’s nothing scarier than finding out you have to participate in a group project. I think everybody has trauma related to that in school.

    Been there, yeah. Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? So think of this as an opportunity to participate in a group project, if you will, but you’re not sort of living inside your head about it, right? You’re not overthinking it. What’s so cool is that in terms of recovery, the outdoors is, it’s a resource that’s accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. Right? So we talk about access, you know, at McCall.

    We want to make the very best services accessible to our clients. You know, that’s why we never turn anybody away away based on their inability to pay. We want to make the very best services accessible and available and this sort of accessibility and equity, this is not only our passion, it’s our top priority. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and Help Inc. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and HELP, Inc. It’s actually a perfect segue. I’m going to give Marissa a moment at the mic here. Marissa Middlestad, Director of Development and Marketing at McCall and HELP. Because this is Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. People hearing this interview are getting a great taste of some of the offerings that McCall uses in this approach with its clients.

    I’m going to give you a chance now to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations at Give Local today. to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations and give local today. Yeah, thanks, Dale. Melanie did a great job explaining why your donations are so important. You know, accessibility to top of the line care is really what we are all about. Like she said, we never turn anyone away for their inability to pay.

    And these therapies have typically been reserved for those with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone. And that’s what we want to provide with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone and that’s what we want to provide to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We want to help them, give them the best. So if you can today, you go to and search for HELP Inc. or McCall. We would love your donations. We’re so grateful to all of our donors. You can also go to our at McCall Center CT or at Help CT and find the links to donate there. We really really thank you for all of your support. And we’re going to keep the links up on our website as well on our on our Facebook page as well for McCall Center and helping. I do want to finish up with Melanie though. You obviously have a lot of passion for this kind of therapy, adventure-based counseling. Give me your takeaway as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings to the fore in helping people battle addiction?

    You know, that’s a great question. I think, you know, the answer is a simple one. When we talk about equity and recovery, right, everybody is coming with access to different resources outside of our programming. The outdoors is accessible to everyone. If we can create that bridge is accessible to everyone, if we can create that bridge between somebody’s individual recovery program, if you will, and the outdoors, we are, regardless of their situation outside of treatment, we are providing them with this essential tool to serve as the foundation for everything that follows, right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool Right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool when they leave us, no pun intended, it’s only uphill from there. Right. And as you always said, it’s always right outside too. It’s right there. So that tool is always right there.

    You know, it’s something to build on. Keep building. Keep climbing, you know. Melanie, a pleasure having you on the show. It’s great to be here. Good luck with the venture-based counseling. Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center and Help, Inc. brings to the fight. Marissa, thanks for joining us as well. And we hope folks have learned a lot of important stuff about McCall and Help and that they’ll help you guys out at Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. And, of course, And you can always learn more at McCall Center with their own website, too. Thank you, ladies.

    All right, that having been said, let’s head to the newsroom and get caught up with Jeff. Good morning.

  • Breaking the Stigma for Men in Recovery – John Fecteau, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor

    Coming up on 822 at FM 97.3 WZBG, check the calendar. Third Wednesday of the month, we catch up with the folks from the Recall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. based in Taranton. This morning we want to welcome John Fecto, who’s a clinical supervisor for McCall. Welcome to the program. Thanks, John. Thanks for having me. Thanks for joining us. We’re a little bit about how we approach treatment for men who may be battling addiction or have some issues. Because the skies are a little different sometimes in the way we process problems. So I guess that would require a little bit of a unique approach or maybe just a modified approach to getting at the root and finding solutions. Right. We intend to restrict emotion a lot more, we’re socialized to be sort of man up, really problem-solving, focused.

    We talk about our problems in metaphor. Right. And we ask for help much less frequently than women do in general. And it’s the way we’re socialized. And that can lead to a number of different problems from men are more three times more likely to overdose. They’re more likely to start using substances, especially alcohol at earlier ages and at larger amounts. And this not asking for help is also a huge problem because we’re also three and a half times more likely to die by suicide. Right. And a lot about suicide these days because the rates are really frightening. Women are more likely to talk about suicide. There’s your cry for help. Men are more likely to complete it.

    Generally speaking, yes. And so some of what we try to do is our outpatient services are intensive outpatient outpatient services. We offer a variety of groups and individual. We have gender specific programming because a lot of times men are more apt to be comfortable talking in a gender specific environment and a men’s group, for instance, because you can tackle this issue head on. And also when people come in, we don’t expect them to be at the stage of change where they’re going to be jumping for joy to be in treatment. So we recognize all these socialization issues when they come in. And we really take a stage of change approach with them. Realizing that in the beginning, people will often be defensive, sometimes even angry. And you have to get past all that. But the interesting thing is once people manage to get past that and realize that asking for help can yield some pretty big rewards, the better you are at talking about emotions and managing them, the more effective you are at managing emotional situations and stressful situations that tend to lead to substance abuse in the first place.

    And so one of the things we also try to focus on with people, especially if they have that sense that I have to take care of this myself, is if you want more independence in your life, asking for help actually gets you to that point. Well, those guys are, we try to be problem solvers. Women, and I don’t mean to stereotype or characterize, but women like to, when they’re ready to talk about a problem, they will tease it apart, they will analyze it. Guys are like, I know my problem is X, I know the solution is Y, and I’m going to do it, stay out of my way. But without getting to the root cause, without teasing it apart and finding the root of it, you’re going to find yourself back there eventually, right? Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. You know, I think that’s a real reality. And I think, by and large, like we said before, men typically have a really hard time even identifying the emotion to begin with, let alone talking about it.

    And a lot of that is the way we’re socialized. And that’s changing over time, but it’s still a pretty deep-seated thing in our society. Is it, do different guys have their breakthrough moment different ways? I mean, you’ve been at this a while, right? So I think you can probably see when you’re starting to break through by a lot of body language and stuff. And like for everybody, does it very person to person? And you’ve got to kind of tailor your approach, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think like I mentioned before, a stage of change approaches something that we really try to take, because it’s individualized. Everyone is different. Yeah. You know, we offer a lot of services as far as medication management.

    Sometimes people need help with depression and early stages of recovery and so on, as well as other mental health conditions. We also offer medicated assisted treatment to give people a little bit more of a leg up. So a lot of what we do is we really look for that moment where we give the support, we give the information, we try to process through identifying these emotions and being able to talk about them. But you’re right, you do see this moment where people sort of body language starts to change a little bit, they tend to open up a little bit more. And one of the things I personally have seen quite a bit is people seem to reach this sort of turning point. And once they turn that, this light goes on. And I think that’s the message that is important for men to understand that there is hope in that. If you put this sort of scary effort in up front, there’ll be a point where you turn that corner and this light goes on and there’s a huge change.

    I mean, I’ve seen night and day change in people before where all of a sudden they’re able to cope with stressors that they were never able to cope with before without being higher drunk. That they’re able to, you know, be much more effective in relationships. Very much more effective at work. You know, this sense of control over your life and it is something that really just sort of turns on. You know, it’s really interesting to see that light go on and it happens. It happens quite often if people make that first step and start to engage in treatment. Now, what is that first step quite often? Lots of folks who are battling addiction, they’ve got to get to that bottom. They’ve got to find that bottom before they make that first step, which is the actual reaching out and saying, I need help. Right. Well, you know, that bottom is something that people talk about a lot, but basically it’s the point at which the consequences outweigh the rewards of that realization and that realization.

    We try to make it as easy as possible. I mean, if you call, just calling our main number, that 8604962100, we’ll just guide you from there. And you know, find the right program for you, find the right level of care for you. And we try to make access to treatment really easy. You know, it’s a phone call. And then at that point, we start the ball rolling with them and try to guide you through that. And people aren’t expected to come in the door, you know, gung ho and you know, super excited about treatment. And we realize that. It’s a tough call to make. But if people make that first call, we try to make it as easy as possible from there and really work with you to be comfortable and start to make some of this progress that everyone can make.

    John, in fact, there was clinical supervisor for the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and help ink. We’re talking about men seeking treatment, some ways in which we try to reach through and work towards some solutions. We’ve got about a minute just to really sum up. Isn’t it amazing how fast this time goes? It goes very quickly. I want to give you a chance just as a final takeaway if there’s a guy out there, a man out there who’s been battling some issues and is finally ready to take that first step. Just leave him with a closing thought. Well, a closing thought really is that it’s possible. And I think a lot of times people are so feel like they’re so in deep that they know something has to change, but they just don’t know how it’s going to happen, how it’s going to start. And even though your brain is telling you sometimes that there’s no hope that, you know, this is just the way things are, take that extra step.

    And because there will be a point if you put the work in, there will be a point at which you stop and say, wow, you know, my life is so much better than it was before. And it really just took making that initial call and just starting the process. And then we help guide you through from there. John, a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you. Thanks so much. All the best to you and everybody got McCall and help ink and we’ll see you guys next time. Thank you very much. Thank you.

  • How to Build Health Habits for Families – Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW, CEO

    A 22 morning live show at WZBG going to the live line this morning as we speak with executive director from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. Maria Croutonskin. A good morning, Maria. Good morning, Dale. How are you? I’m well. Thanks for joining us on the live line this morning. Our topic this morning, we’re going to talk about children’s mental health and building resilience because that of course will prevent substance abuse to go a long way toward it. I guess the good question is and there’s been a lot of reporting on this. How are our children doing these days? Well, thank you so much for being here. To my mind, there’s not much that’s more important than talking about this topic and I appreciate being able to talk about it with you, Dale. So, I think it’s been well documented.

    We’re really worried about kids these days. I think everything from the tragic overdose of the seventh grader in Hartford to juvenile crime to increase rates of anxiety and depression. We appropriately are concerned. There’s a lot of high-aturity crisis happening, but we’re also seeing this kind of generally kids are unsettled, they’re feeling that they have a lot that they’re dealing with on their plate and they don’t necessarily always have the language and the pathways to be able to express it appropriately and safely and adults in their lives don’t always feel like we have the right tools to be able to respond to them. So, important to have this conversation. I would agree and I think a lot of it you can lay at the feet of COVID. It’s caused a lot of social isolation and I think we tend to underestimate the power of human contact and interaction toward our mental well-being and all of that has really been assaulted now for the past two years. It’s so true and we see that.

    We do surveys of young people and their families and we’re noticing and this is, we have specific data for our area but we also have data for our state and certainly across the nation and the trends speak volumes. We saw youth feeling more lonely and disconnected and more anxious actually even before COVID hit and then in many ways those things were amplified. Certainly, more reliance on screens and technology and just by virtue of the fact of needing to stay safe, more disconnection, more fear, more anxiety collectively, adults obviously are connected to each of the kids who we’re thinking about and talking about. So our mental health and our well-being certainly impacts how our kids are doing. So these are all things. These are markers. These are things we’re paying attention to. But, and you know, we look at things like substance use and some of the other behaviors as those are symptoms. Those are telling us a story about what kids are dealing with and we just have to scratch the surface of that and figure out what’s driving it.

    Behind every behavior there’s a need and there’s lots of unmet needs that kids are experiencing right now. So there are things that we can do as the adults in their lives. Now when we start to break that down then, I mean how do we, we talked about how sometimes parents don’t know how to communicate what their kids might be feeling and draw them out. What’s the best way to start to make that connection so that you can get to the root cause of why they might be tumbling towards some kind of substance abuse? Sure. So I think there’s a few things. I’m going to just kind of give you three phrases and then I’ll give some more explanation for those. So high expectations, high structure, high nurture. So I think when people hear high expectations they think of like every kid needs to go to Yale.

    That’s not what I mean at all. I think sitting down just as an adult and writing what you value in your family what’s important to you, what’s central to what matters. And then taking those as family values and having discussions in big and small ways about what your expectations are about how to move through the world, about how to treat other people, about how you spend your time, how you spend your money, ways that you relate to one another, all of those things get communicated based on your value system. So us as adults getting clear on what matters to us is really key to be able to do that in an intentional way. And having high expectations isn’t about like necessarily high grades and that kind of stuff. It’s this. Because I’ve been a social worker for I don’t know, hundred years right? And working with kids and with families for a long time, there’s a lot of things that we as parents do that’s driven by love and protection and oftentimes fear.

    And when we feel afraid we’re not necessarily at our best. I don’t know, like if I think about the time when I was at my best versus when I was at my worst, my kids are now twenty four and twenty two. It’s when I was acting out of that fearful place that I was not the best mom. And I would love to be able to rewind and do things differently when I was acting out of fear. Yeah. And so if we’re acting out of love, then we know we’re going to make better decisions. And love is calming and it’s thoughtful, it’s nurturing, but it also doesn’t mean having no expectations. So I’ll give you an example. If we know that our kid is struggling with something, maybe it’s hard for them to get through the school day, maybe it’s hard for them to stick out being on a certain team or something like that. The temptation is to say, oh, it’s okay.

    You don’t have to do that. Now, the whole idea of having high expectations is if you’re building in those other things, that nurturing environment, you say to your kid, you have, I’m going to be there with you, but you have the tools and you have the strength to be able to make it through this uncomfortable moment. And when you put these moments together and together, then I know that you can do hard things. And those experiences build on one another. And that’s where resilience comes in. Yep, very good point. Kids who’ve got to believe in themselves and that starts with mom and dad believing in them. So, yep. And when we over protect, when we do that helicopter thing, we actually do a disservice to our kids.

    We used to say to our kids when they would get into a bind to say, we told them, you’re a smart kid, figure it out. And they did. Yep. And it doesn’t mean they’re alone in it. Right. You’re right there. You’re not going to get with them, but every time that we rescue, we make their world a little bit smaller. And we convince them that they’re not capable. And those are things, you know, we’re talking about big things. We’re talking about child mental health. We’re talking about substance use. But these are all things, building resilient kids, building in the skills and tools. Those are the things that could need to be able to navigate the world, to cope with tough big feelings, to be able to refuse when they’re tempted to, you know, experiment with drugs and alcohol.

    And use other coping skills, but they don’t feel like they have to smoke or drink when they’re feeling stress or anxious or lonely. Got to make the kids feel like they’ve got the strength, but also that you’ve got their back right along the way, huh? Perfect. Exactly. Yep. Yep. It’s a gigantic challenge, Marie, and I want to give you a chance to, I don’t know, kind of nutshell it as we run out of time on our interview here. We could go on for quite a while about this topic because it is also important. But some thoughts we can leave, moms and dads who are facing this challenge and kids out there too, who are having a rough goal right now. Yeah. Thank you.

    I think that the really, like a true show of strength is saying, I need some help here. And so if you’re wondering, you know, could my kid benefit from counseling? I’ve never met a kid who couldn’t. I’ve never met a family who couldn’t benefit. For sure. And so, you know, having, it could be just a few sessions, it could be longer and get into some of the deeper stuff. Parents and kids can be the drivers of what that looks like and what they want to address. But don’t feel like you have to go this alone. Don’t feel like, oh, it’s a phase. It’ll pass. Those, all of those things are opportunities to have an intervention any earlier. You can do that. And if there’s only one thing that people remember from this whole interview, it’s this. The earlier you can have a positive intervention, the better off the trajectory of that life will be.

    And it’s easy to access. It can be telehealth. It can be in person. It can be family, it can be kid. But you know, we’re there. And you know, we have the ability to be able to put those tools in the hands of parents and kids. Well, I hope they grab those tools and use them to their best benefit for family mental health. Because, you know, there’s that saying about us parents where only gets happy as our saddest child, right? Right. So, it’s definitely. All right. Maria, I sure appreciate your time today.

    You’ve given us a lot to think about. And yes, we’re not all in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm, aren’t we? Exactly. Yeah. Thank you, Dale. Thanks for your time today. We appreciate it, Maria. Pleasure. All the best. Maria Crouton Skinner is the executive director from McCall Center for Behavioral Health. And you can always learn more at And we kind of went into the news department’s newscast here a little bit long. Sorry about that, Jeff. But, a little bit late, we had to use her.

  • The Truth About Fentanyl – Sean Morits, Case Manager and Employment Specialist

    822 on FM 97.3 WZBG Wednesdays round here we have our discussion with the folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. I want to welcome back Sean Moritz who’s a case manager employment specialist for McCall. Sean welcome to the program. Yeah thanks for having me. Glad to have you Sean, welcome to the program. Yeah, thanks for having me. Glad to have you aboard. We did have some established topic we wanted to go over because we’ve got a brand new year, but we’re going to jump in actually and just start with something that has just been shocking in the state of Connecticut and has hit parents and everyone very, very hard, and that is the death of a 13-year-old due to an unintentional overdose of fentanyl.

    due to an unintentional overdose of fentanyl. And it’s just a tragedy, not unlike gun violence in a school, this loss of life. You know, as a parent of a teenager and then someone in the recovery field, yeah, it’s totally tragic because it can be prevented with education, right? But there could be longer term effects as to the way this was all presented to us, which effects as to the way this was all presented to us, which we talked about a little bit earlier, is in the conversation I had with our director yesterday, she brought to me that long-term consequences could be that people perceive fentanyl to be something that it’s not. Like a biohazard.

    Exactly, like a virus in the air, and it’s not. Listen, it’s really bad, we don’t need me to tell you that, but it needs to be taken through a specific route of administration. but it needs to be taken through a specific route of administration. So the long-term negative consequence could be that while we’re trying to help someone that is suffering from an overdose by administering Narcan, they might, the person with the Narcan might be reluctant to administer it because what they’ve been educated and taught from all the sources is that fentanyl is biohazardous and then we’re gonna leave somebody lying on the floor.

    And so I’m hoping out of these conversations and then we’re going to leave somebody lying on the floor. And so I’m hoping out of these conversations that we could just keep educating about the fentanyl, of course, about the prevention techniques that will help prevent this stuff in the future. Well, it really is about education and prevention. This is a case, again, at the Hartford Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, where you had a young person who does what young people do.

    They experiment. And they think they’re invincible. people do. They experiment. And they think they’re invincible. And that these bad things aren’t going to happen to them. It’s upon us in our society as parents and as adults that want to keep our kids safe to give them the best education, the best knowledge, the best tools, right? To do the right thing when confronted with these questions. Is this potentially Is this potentially harmful or deadly to me? Right, and you know, teaching teenagers to do the right thing is often a tough task. But in this situation, we have at McCall and Help, we have a tremendous prevention team. And that’s what they do. They go into the schools, into the community, talking to parents, educate, educate, rinse, wash, repeat. Rinse, wash, repeat.

    So, as much as they are superheroes, they can’t be in every place at one time. So as much as they are superheroes, they can’t be in every place at one time. So I hope that what comes out of this tragedy is we need to increase the education. We need to normalize the discussion. You know, the number one cause of death to 18 to 49 year olds, the data just came out, is a drug overdose. That is just incredible.

    And let’s face it, about 70% of those are opiate slash fentanyl related. So education, now more than ever, are opiate slash fentanyl related. So education now more than ever it just needs to be on the forefront. Hopefully this tragedy if there’s some silver lining that may come with it, it is a renewed focus and a renewed sense of alarm among the broader community that we need to do something we need to do more. I mean we’re already doing something we need to do more to try to forestall these tragedies. Yeah it’s just it starts at the kitchen table it starts with the parents it goes into the schools and it’s just It starts at the kitchen table, it starts with the parents, it goes into the schools, and it’s just normalizing the conversation.

    It’s taboo. No one likes to talk about drugs, you know, the just say no to drugs concept, but we need to educate and we’re going to have to start by educating the parents, educating the schools, getting Narcan everywhere. Everyone should be having Narcan since we’re essentially in a tragic pandemic with drug overdoses. Correct. Correct. You guys are in the business of saving lives, of restoring lives. You guys are in the business of saving lives, of restoring lives.

    That’s what you try to do. People come to you in the battle of addiction, and you try to help them find a path out. And it may seem like the odds are against the person who is in that battle. So let’s talk a little bit about that fear of recovery, that fear. And I guess maybe one major part of that fear is that you’re going to fail, that you can’t win this battle, right? Right, absolutely. is that you’re going to fail, that you can’t win this battle, right? Right, absolutely. So that comes in resolving ambivalence, right? The inability to commit one way or the other. And I think if someone listening or someone asked me, hey, what do you guys do? Treatment doesn’t work, or we don’t know what it’s all about. The real secret foundation is helping clients and people in recovery just overcome ambivalence. And we do that by focusing on right in the very beginning, whether it’s through an outreach worker, a And we do that by focusing on right in the very beginning, whether it’s through an outreach worker or a case manager or in one of our clinical programs, it’s using basic therapy concepts to help them understand how these negative cognitions are impacting their life.

    I’m not good enough. I won’t succeed. I’ll fail. No one likes me. And with just basic cognitive behavior therapy, we’re working to help them build just a little We’re working to help them build just a little bit of confidence and a little bit of integrity. And when we can create that foundation, anything is truly possible. And is that why sometimes it takes longer? Sometimes that path for some, you know, as the Beatles saying, a long and winding road. For some people, they’re able to find that kernel and build on it at an earlier point.

    And for others, it seems to take a lot longer because that is the building block you start with. it seems to take a lot longer because that is the building block you start with, right? And not everybody gets there at the same time. Yeah, so there’s a million different pathways to recovery and it truly takes a village with the team approach. But some people have some serious trauma that’s just unresolved and that might take a long time to resolve. Now, everybody’s trauma is equal but different, right? So what’s traumatic for you might not be as traumatic for me. you might not be as traumatic for me.

    So it could take a long time because working through some of that stuff, it’s just a process, right? It’s a marathon. It truly is. You just got to work at it, work at it, and just build a good team around you so it’s not just your weekly meeting with a therapist. You’re working with case managers, outreach workers, and maybe doing meetings in the community and so you’re always connected to a recovery base. and so you’re always connected to a recovery base. So at McClellan Health, Inc., then, when people come to you, and again, you’ve got to find where they are on that path and try to pick it up and help them along.

    Let’s talk about some of those tools in the toolbox, what you employ, depending upon where along that journey they are. Right. So you truly have to meet clients where they’re at. And if you just kind of take a look back historically from the 1950s, the recovery model on the medical side the recovery model on the medical side looked a lot like self-help like alcohol AA, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a huge success for so many people.

    But for so many other people it creates this negative connotation that may or may not be true. And the societal perception keeps people from taking a step into recovery. So what we’ve evolved exponentially to today is offering so many flavors and techniques and strategies offering so many flavors and techniques and strategies as part of a basic treatment model. We have wellness groups, mindfulness groups, adventure recovery, trauma-informed care, and of course the foundational inpatient or outpatient services too.

    You think, and it does take all of those tools in the box to bring this out, and you presented an alarming statistic about those that we lose 18 to 49 to drug overdose. All right? that we lose 18 to 49 to drug overdose. All right. Yeah. And we know the addiction issues in this country. Has the country truly got past those old stereotypes to a place to where we’re ready to embrace all of these methodologies to get the job done?

    I mean, I have to say no. There’s so much more work to do. And sort of what we talked about in the beginning of this conversation, it’s just being persistent with the education. And the key word is normalizing the conversation. being persistent with the education and the key word is normalizing the conversation because if this conversation remains taboo to families or other pockets of society that we are not truly going to be able to support and help those who need it the most so I just think we just keep pounding the pavement educate educate educate and just try to get the the message out and then work on pulling people in with the team approach. Let’s talk about those people we’re pulling in and our final comment here as we run out of time in Let’s talk about those people we’re pulling in and our final comment here as we run out of time in the interview Sean is going way too quickly this morning We know that with the tragedy in Hartford Parents of teenagers have their minds in the game. You know everybody is keyed into this when you’re a parent of a teenager I know that you are yes What about John Q public the rest what?

    can we try to leave with the general public about this latest tragedy and how we forge together to fight it better? Right, so we can’t let a tragedy like this break us. Just to add, I’m from Sandy Hook, right? My daughter is a 15-year-old kid. So we’re no strangers to tragedy, but we can’t let that define us. It’s sad, and for the family it’s even sadder, but as a society we just have to pick each It’s even sadder, but as a society we just have to pick each other up and we have to stay positive But we have to be able to talk about it I can’t speak about that enough a teacher has to talk about it a father a mother has to talk about it And it just can’t be taboo, and that’s the takeaway I want to get today is just normalize the conversation if we do the education and motivation will help fully fall into place Sean we appreciate your time this morning and the work that you and everyone around you at McCall Center and helping do and and the work that you and everyone around you at McCall Center and Health Inc. do.

    And God bless you and your mission going forward, especially on days as we look at this latest tragedy. Thank you. Okay, thanks for having me. Sean Moritz is case manager, employment specialist at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. Joining us the third Wednesday of the month, we have that conversation with McCall, rarely more important than it is today. It’s 832. We’re gonna head to the newsroom a little bit late. Jeff, thanks We’re going to head to the newsroom a little bit late. Jeff, thanks for letting me steal a couple of minutes from your newscast. Thank you, Dale. Right now, 23 to…

  • Family and Recovery – Leann Mitchell, LCSW, Director of Family Services

    Hey 22 on FM 97.3 WZBG smack dab in the middle of December 3rd Wednesday in December. And with that we always have a conversation with folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Bank. And today on the line with us is Leanne Mitchell Leanne is the Director of Family Services at the McCall Center. Good morning Leanne. Good morning. Thanks for having me on. Well thank you for being our guest this morning and as we get on the airways this morning and talk about our topic here with the McCall Center. You know we’re in the holiday season. This is a family time of year. And of course the mission at McCall is to help folks find a way to recovery and substance use and mental health disorders. We’re going to talk about the family impact on this because as I think anyone who’s been in this fight before knows it goes beyond the individual and to all those folks in the family who are trying to love them through this right?

    Yes. Yes. And so what I often talk about in my work as the Director of Family Services I get a lot of phone calls. We get a lot of phone calls throughout McCall. Some people who are coming from a place is caring and comparing but also more specifically is what more maybe they could be doing to be helpful. And so I often describe this process as recovery is really a parallel process. Recovery for somebody who’s trying to manage substance use or struggling with mental health. They themselves are trying to search for a pathway and what I often tell you is that there’s at least five but most of the time many more who are trying to also love that person and they themselves are if needed to go through a recovery process. Well, it’s not an easy thing because it can be an extremely frustrating process for the family that are trying to be supported. So let’s take a look at a two ways.

    The one is just maybe emotional exhaustion as this person maybe they’ve been struggling for a while and it’s harder for a family member to understand where that person is sometimes. And the other is a feeling of helplessness too. It’s like I don’t have the tools. I don’t know how to help and I guess McCall can help with that. Absolutely. So we do also through McCall Center, we do also a huge piece of what we try to do when somebody enters their doors to receive support and help is that we do try to write off the bat, start the initial conversations with is there anyone else in their life that they want to involve? And sometimes from the coming from a perspective of the person who’s struggling, there’s some hesitation with that. Often there’s a lot of emotions that come with deciding to get some sort of passive recovery and there’s sometimes shame and guilt that’s involved. And there might be this feeling that if I get my family member involved or someone who I view as support, is this only going to increase the shame that I feel?

    And often what I try to explain is that with building, understanding around mental health struggles and some of these struggles, it actually creates a lot more empathy and compassion in the whole process. So do we get the folks together in a room and try to reach an understanding of where the parties are? So you’ve got the person who is, let’s say, battling addiction and trying to get into this fight. Again, it has it to bring on the shame of bringing the family in closer into this battle. And then you’ve got the family in the room that are trying to understand their role and how they can be the most helpful. Is this kind of a scenario that McCullough tries to create? Yes. So McCullough can offer a couple of different paths in what I kind of described. So McCullough can offer to actually do family therapy, which would involve just the family unit with the person who is struggling.

    But then McCullough also offers a group. It’s a peer support and education group called Recovery Together. And in that group, what we really try to do is we bring topics around substance use, mental health, and recovery. And when they’re helping people build their understanding about the process, while I’m also really honing in on specific skills that will help bring about change. I often describe changes being very difficult. And that’s, you know, the family in the recovery process, ultimately, what’s happening is that they’re being forced to change or asked to change as well, some of their behaviors. Often with substance use and mental health, we fall into these patterns of how we operate within relationships. And when the person is trying to get on a better path, the family members might have to change and adjust some of the ways that they operate within that relationship. So more specifically, one of the most common questions is around not giving someone money anymore.

    First fear that we’re continuing to contribute, maybe, to the substance use problem. And then when I cover it together, we really talk a lot about deciding on a change, but a change that you’re able to commit to and to stick with. And so it’s not helpful for someone to suggest a change that you would never be able to follow through with. And so we try to start small in setting some boundaries. And within setting boundaries and learning the ways to operate within relationships, ultimately, what you’re doing as the family member or the loved one is you’re learning how to take care of yourself. Often, I find that people are so worried and so overwhelmed by what their loved one is going through that they forget to, I often use the analogy about when you go on a plane, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anybody else. And so a huge piece of what I’m trying to encourage and really help people understand is that it’s important to take care of yourself as well. All right.

    So it’s that self-care. You’ve got to be in your best place if you’re going to be of maximum benefit to the person who is in that battle. You mentioned recovery together when for folks who are hearing this and they’re in the family unit and they want to get some of these tools, let’s talk about when recovery together meets and how they can be included in it. Oh, sure. So anybody who would be interested in recovering together, either in a contact me directly or you call the recall name number 84062100. The group meets so on Zoom due to just all of the madness with COVID. Sure. So we’re still meeting them virtually. And so really it’s just a matter of calling. You know, at this point, I’m the point person for that group. So I’m more than happy to have further conversations about the group.

    But really it’s just a matter of them. They get sent to you link and it gets one thing from 5.37. All right. And there’s no charge for this. I understand for folks who want to get involved. There’s no charge. I will give credit to we do receive some grant funding through DMS, which we are very grateful for that we can. If we’re going to see opportunity to offer this support at no charge and no cost to the individuals. Well, Leanne, we appreciate it. Our time runs out here and our interview time talking about their talking with director of family services at the McCulls Center, Leanne Mitchell. And talking about how families can be better equipped, get some tools, get some perspective to help that person in their lives who is in the battle.

    And Leanne, we appreciate the help and we hope that families will reach out if this is the kind of thing that they need to make all their lives better. Especially at this time of year when we’re all supposed to be enjoying family company that we get the tools to truly work together to get to that successful end. Absolutely. Well, and thank you so much again for having me on and I wish you and everybody at CBG and everybody listening very happy holidays and a safe new year. Leanne, thanks so much for your time. All the best to everyone at the McCulls Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. We look forward to our interviews coming up in the new year on the third Wednesday of the month, all the best to you and yours for the holiday as well. Thank you, Dale. Thanks, have a good day. Thank you, too. Leanne Mitchell from the McCulls Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc.

    On FM 97.3 WCBG, run it just a minute later so we’ll head to the newsroom now. Hey Jeff. Dale Log.

  • Finding Faith in Yourself – Donta Gorham, Addiction Case Manger

    . . 822 on FM 97.3 WCBG. Third Wednesday of the month, we have a visit with the folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Helping. And this time we actually have two guests in studio. We don’t normally do that, but we’re happy to have from the development and marketing project manager, Marissa Middlestadt, Marissa, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Thanks for joining us. And we welcome back Dante Gore. I’m Dante, he’s been a guest of bars in the past. We think it’s been a couple of years since he joined us. He’s an addiction case manager at the McCall Center. So Dante, welcome back. Thank you very much.

    Now I think the last time we talked, we got topical about the fight for substance abuse. And we’re going to revolve a lot of our discussion this time around perseverance and what that means in this battle. Marissa, we’re going to come around to you as well because we’re in the annual appeal phase here. Are we on the backside of Tuesday? That’s right. So we’re going to touch on that a little bit. I may bounce back and forth between the two of you a little bit here this morning. But Dante, starting with you, when we talk about perseverance, I imagine that is two sides, both in your practice and what you do, and on the part of those who are addicted. And it’s got to be both hands working together, correct? Yes, sir. So little experiential, what you’ve seen in that actual application. Perseverance. First, let me start saying it’s the honor to be here. Thank you.

    Glad to have you. Very grateful for the work you do with your message. It’s very vital in the fight that we do. Well, obviously your work is as well, which is why we’re happy to convey it. So we’re glad we can be a part of getting that message out there. And we know that this is a very tough time in the battle of addiction. Yes. And we’re kind of taking a back seat to COVID, but we know that the numbers are just really, really appalling. So let’s talk about what you’re seeing day to day in that application of perseverance and how we apply that. Perseverance is hard. Yeah. It’s like, you know, it’s easy to tell people, you know, you can get through things, you can get through things. But if a person doesn’t see it themselves, it’s hard for them to believe it. Right. And it’s like, you know, I may not be the best salesman.

    And that’s why we work hand-to-hand with agencies like help. You know, if I can’t help them, can we do a warm hell no? Right. And then that’s the perseverance. From time we can’t help everybody come in contact with, but we can’t help them by persevering to find where they fit in in their basic need. And then we can hand them off. I’m saying that it’s like it’s a very, very hard job. And you know, what is the most important thing that we do is to help people with the work you do with your work? What is the best way to sell that if you’ve got someone who is skeptical of their own abilities in this battle? What’s the best tool to give them to get that fight started or to give them that extra leg up in that fight, to get them to believe in that perseverance? First of all, we have to meet them where they’re at. You know, we have to look at their successes. We have to deal with clients, I say like me, I deal with clients on the continuum. I don’t look at what they may have done in the past. I look at what they’re trying to do with them and I meet them where they’re at at that point. And then, and sometimes when we meet clients, they have been through so much that they lost not only the belief in themselves, they lost the meaning of what their existence is.

    Like, you know, if you look at Victor Franklin, he says, like, you know, a person can persevere through anything if they find meaning in that at that moment. And what I do is I try to help people find meaning in their struggles because we all have to find meaning in our struggles in order for us to persevere. Because it’s not like you’re going to say back here, say, you know, I’m going to get through what is going to happen. It’s not osmosis. It’s practice. And every day, you know, I tell clients, don’t look at the big battle. Let’s take the small fights. And then if a person can see that they can get through the small fights, then that helps them build self-efficiency. Self-efficiency is a priming, is like a priming greeting as perseverance. Because if I can believe in me, then I can get through this. And it starts with we showing them that I believe in you. Because sometimes that’s what a person’s first belief comes in at. It’s a person that comes in contact with them. Because if that person believes in their heart of all hearts, not in their head, because I always say there’s two cases you can believe at. If you believe in your head, you could believe in your heart. If you believe in your head, you know, we can sit back here and come up without a thousand or one thoughts in a matter of how many minutes. I’m saying so we can sit back and confuse it. We can dilute it. But if you believe in your heart, that’s what a purest essence of persons live, I believe. And if you believe in your heart, that you believe in you, then you can persevere through anything. And people sit back and say, you know, that sounds complicated. No, it’s not. All you guys do is get a person to see one small accomplishment. When a person sits here and tell you, you know what, I thought about using today. But I call this person. I went to a meeting. See, somebody else that might not seem big, but going one day, one minute, one second, and not using. That’s one of the biggest accomplishment for anybody with substance use. And people, as some people can’t grasp that. That’s the big accomplishment. And that’s the, that’s the pure description of perseverance right there is going to get through those individual moments. And that’s what gives everybody hope. And that actually is the theme we’re working with Marissa, I believe, for the annual appeal reflections of hope.

    And so let’s talk about that and how that appeal works on the backside of giving Tuesday here for the folks at McCall Center and helping. Yeah, giving Tuesday really kicks off our annual field this year and it’s titled reflections of hope. Because I think sometimes when you’re inside of a mental health disorder or substance use disorder, finding hope is really a challenge. It’s really, really difficult. You know, I’ve experienced it that with my brother. And sometimes you just don’t know how it’s going to end. And thankfully my brother is in recovery and at McCall and help, you know, we find hope every day within the clients that we serve. Because they do have these successes that Dante’s, you know, speaking of. Yeah, perseverance and hope. You can’t really have one without the other. You know, and if you don’t have that sense of hope, then it’s a lot harder to persevere. If you’re sitting there and you’re saying to yourself, what’s the point? And you don’t know what the point is getting back to you to find that one thing, you know, that keeps you going. And then you build on that moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. And whatever. Glad to hear that your brother is in recovery. Thank you. And again, day by day, the fight goes on. And but that’s really the essence of it isn’t it is perseverance means every day you got to, you got to begin it. So every day you need to know what that point is, right? Yes. And I like I stress that clients is like, you know, we know what it is. We know what it is. Equate. We’ve been there. Sure. You know, and I always tell them, if you want, if you’re comfortable in that feeling, then you know, we can’t complain about it. But we have to not be comfortable and quick. We have to be comfortable and succeed in perseverance, getting through it.

    Because it feels great. And you see it like in their eyes when they make like one that that accomplishment, you know, and even like us working this field, we have to persevere the things because we have personal lives. Right. You know, and we have to get through things. And if you want my to share a little bit like what I went through like last year, get persevere. You know, last year, my, my, my little brother, he got murdered. I’m sorry. And I’m. I had to get through that. You know, and I got through that, you know, with finding meaning in it all. And I got through that help with the help from the call. Every day I was getting phone calls every day people call me. You know, I’m doing cards and stuff like that. You know, and that’s the great thing about, you know, having people with their with you to help you get through it. To help you push through it. Then right after that, my mother called COVID. And that was like a shocker. You know, and I got through that with the help of my call. It’s like, well, I’m trying to say I’m not going to always like we all have to persevere and we all have to dig deep like I was reading this thing on my calls. Website, it was says like, you know, sometimes we have to did deep inward deep inward. And that for all of us, we have to deep, did deep inward. And I tell clients, this is what we have to do. We have to go deeper, deeper, deeper in order to find what we’re going to use to get through that day. Don’t take on as an addiction case manager. Perseverance is our overarching topic here this morning. Before we run out of time, because boy, it flies at love to keep the two of you in here for about another 20 minutes. I don’t have that luxury. Marissa, I wanted to give you a chance just to remind people if they want to help support the causes and things you’re doing at McCall and helping a way to do that. Yeah, absolutely follow us on Facebook at McCall is at McCall Center CT or help us at help CT. You can go to our website,, donate slash donate now. Really, your donation is more than just money. You’re letting your clients know that they’re capable of the hard work it takes to heal and sustain recovery. Marissa is development marketing project manager at the McCall Center and helping thanks for joining us on the show. Nice to have you live. Don’t take glad to have you back.

    I admire your perseverance through you on personal struggles and the work you do at McCall. Thank you for being our guest. Thank you. Remember, we all need to persevere as it were. Alright, back to the newsroom just a moment late. Hey there, Jeff. Hello, Dill. Thank you.