It was only after a few days on the floor that I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I had this trigger in my life that made me understand that I was now rooted. What I had always dreamed of in the helping relationship. For years, I doubted my ability to take on the role of an advocate without being a sponge and without being able to distinguish my professional life from my personal life.
Until the day I was hired in a youth addiction rehabilitation centre. A place very different from what I had expected, but in fact exceeded my expectations thanks to the therapeutic community.
At Portage, the community is the main therapeutic tool.
The Therapeutic Community Approach
A therapeutic community, what does it eat in winter? It's not something that can be learned in school, you have to live it. I had never heard of this approach before nor experienced it but I completely fell in love with it. According to the dictionary’s definition, a community "is a group of people united by links of interests, common habits, opinions or common characteristics".
At Portage, the community is the main therapeutic tool. The role of the counsellor is not that of a leader. He represents a safety net and a landmark. Of course, he intervenes at several times in the day of the residents but while staying away.
I have to use the right words to get someone to react and use the right member of the community to make things happen. The goal of each of my interventions is to make residents move forward in a strategic way.
A Three-Dimensional Chess Game
What is exciting about my role as a counsellor at Portage is this impression of attending a three-dimensional chess game. I have to use the right words to get someone to react and use the right member of the community to make things happen. The goal of each of my interventions is to make residents move forward in a strategic way.
My Dream Job
At Portage, I felt welcomed and included by both staff and residents. Our bond is strong; we are welded as in a big family. Being surrounded by people who have the job at heart and care about the well-being of others allows me to be fully fulfilled and to preserve my passion for my job.
I think that even people who do not have addiction problems should adhere to the therapeutic community's approach which helps us empower ourselves, care for our feelings and needs, express ourselves respectfully, and become more human. To try Portage is to adopt it!
Mélissa, Counsellor at Portage St-Malachie