September is National Recovery Month and this year’s 25th anniversary theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out.” Schwanna Cockerham-Qualls leads individual and group therapy sessions, and offers a reflection on the National Recovery Month theme in relation to the experiences of women at Calvary.
By Schwanna Cockerham-Qualls, LPC, MA
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” –William Ernest Henley
There is no easy way to give voice to yourself or your experiences. In order to speak up and reach out you have to first think that you can. Calvary Women’s Services provides a safe haven for women to begin to think they can. Through individual therapy, case management and group counseling services, Calvary educates and promotes speaking up and reaching out.
Women come to Calvary with multiple experiences of trauma, little or no family support, addiction, mental illness, unhealthy relationships, homelessness and low self-esteem. When an individual has been living in dysfunction, they become loyal to the dysfunction. They live and breathe it. Recovery becomes a challenge for those familiar with dysfunction. Groups and individual therapy help women learn how to take care of themselves so they can be present in recovery. In my work, I offer a safe place for women to lay out dysfunction and face it.
Through psycho-educational groups such as “Healthy Relationships,” “Understanding Mental Health Disorders” and “Relapse Prevention,” women find their voices. The psycho-educational groups are not just about offering information but helping women understand themselves on a deeper level. An example of this is through the “Healthy Relationships” group, where we focus on fear, attachment, control and entitlement that is brought into relationships. We also explore how we see ourselves in relationships, what we learned about relationships within our family, how we communicate to others and how to set boundaries.
These deeper levels of exploration help women talk about themselves. It is the stories we tell about our lives and our experiences that help us to reach out. At Calvary, women work to understand their stories, know their stories and voice their stories. In time, women become who they believe they are.