Director of Aftercare for Oliver-Pyatt Centers Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, CEDS helps to prepare clients to reintegrate back into their lives in a sustainable way. In her writing, she shares the importance of aftercare planning in the recovery process.
“Aftercare planning needs to pay reverence to all aspects of a client’s life and recovery.” When I heard Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt say those words, I thought there were never truer words spoken. Even if a client makes amazing changes to her eating behaviors, has full medical and physical restoration, is motivated and attends the best program in the country, they still run a high risk of relapsing without a comprehensive aftercare plan. We, as clinicians, have to understand what needs, triggers, and barriers to recovery exist in our clients and their environments, as well as, think about what we can do to prepare them for reintegrating back into their lives in a sustainable way.
Seeing firsthand the difficulties that clients face when they step out of residential treatment was very eye-opening for me. I considered Dr. Oliver-Pyatt’s statement heavily throughout my time working in the IOP/TLP program and took that statement into my current role as the Director of Aftercare. Now I work with our clinical teams to keep the aftercare plan in mind throughout treatment, both as a guide for treatment planning and for considering important factors to be addressed as a client prepares for and finally discharges from our programs. Further, we work together with the outpatient teams, families, and the clients to help everyone see beyond the goal of symptom cessation and to look at recovery as an all encompassing process. Factors such as school/work, relaxation, fun, socialization, environment, access to resources, family support, spiritual restoration, and support for co-occurring disorders/struggles all need to be considered in the treatment and aftercare planning.
It is my objective to make sure that each client has a full wrap-around aftercare plan that meets their unique needs and takes into consideration barriers that may exist. Understanding and addressing these barriers early on is necessary. Such barriers may be a lack of understanding of the complexity of the illness or treatment process, lack of access to services or financial resources, lack of willingness to participate in treatment, barriers to motivation or recovery, or lack of an appropriate support system. We address these barriers and incorporate exposures to assess and practice their skills, build additional multi-faceted support into the aftercare plans, and help clients create a meaningful life that is congruent with their recovery needs.