The Power of Forming Healthy Relationships in Recovery
At the Pioneer Transition House (PTH), one of the goals is for the residents to create bonds with each other so they remain connected after they leave for permanent housing. Positive relationships and pro-social behavior are vital elements in a person’s successful recovery. Staff works with the residents to form bonds and this creates a communal atmosphere that perpetuates strength, confidence, continual support and a sense of boundaries for all the residents that pass through the doors.
PTH is located in Mount Vernon, WA and serves as a step-down housing program for homeless adults with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders. The residents are entering the program from hospitals, detox centers, inpatient treatment and jail. PTH provides intensive case management, transitional skill building, and connects providers to support our residents’ transition and to improve their quality of life.
Two former residents, Shilo and Taunya, met at PTH in the fall of 2015. Shilo is very quiet and more of an introvert and Taunya is very outgoing, friendly and loves to talk with people. Neither of the women had spent much time together as their personalities were quite different. However, when PTH held their annual program BBQ event for community partners, and current and past residents, this changed. Staff needed some help to get the food out in time for the guests and both women offered to help out. By working together, they got to know each other better and a bond started to form that would build into a lasting friendship.
As the women progressed in the program, they both moved into permanent housing situations and pursued their life. Unfortunately, Shilo made a partner choice that became abusive and ultimately led her to fear for her safety and seek help from PTH.
Kathleen Peterson, PTH resident monitor said, “Thankfully, Shilo’s first instinct was to come to PTH for help and support. We were so relieved she reached out to us. The staff worked with her to help her get through the trauma and set her up with the appropriate actions to take.”
While Shilo was sharing her story with staff at PTH, Taunya called because she couldn’t get in touch with Shilo and was worried. “Taunya wanted to know if we had heard from Shilo and expressed her deep concern. Staff immediately let Taunya know that Shilo was safe with us and gave the phone to Shilo so the two friends could talk. It was really a wonderful moment to witness the power of a healthy friendship,” Peterson added.
Taunya ended up inviting Shilo to stay at her home so she could help her work things out. The staff at PTH urged Shilo to attend a seminar called Discernment and Healthy Judgments. The two friends decided to attend the seminar together for mutual support and to share what they learned to get the most out of it.
“We are so proud that this strong bond developed through the program. The bond is a perfect example of our goal to help people build healthy relationships and a support system once they are out in the community. It is very rewarding to know that the Pioneer Transition House helped to develop something positive in their lives that didn’t exist previously,” said Joe Nagel, program manager, Pioneer Transition House.