How I Work as a Residential Advisor in the Substance Abuse Field – Phyllis Warchol

Phyllis WarcholMy experience in working with people that no college book will tell you…

Hello, my name is Phyllis Warchol, I have worked in the social services field for the past 20 years. The scope of my work has been in substance abuse and mental health which is now called Behavioral Health.

I am a licensed alcohol drug counselor, clinical supervisor and mental health rehabilitation worker and I now want to work in the wellness field with a holistic approach.

I started out in the field on the ground floor as a residential advisor in the substance abuse field. While in this position I realized how much I love helping people stay substance free by teaching skills to help cope with their anxiety, panic attacks, craving etc.

I taught these skills by practicing them with the residents, one on one and while they were in crisis. While doing so I learned what worked for the residents, that emotions can be changed without substances and people do not need to have a medications for everything they experience (which appeared to be the way the world was going).

Through these experience and with time, most of the residents learned that these uncomfortable emotions that were very normal. By the time residents had come to our program they had used substances for so long it was normal to use and not feel. Because they masked any and all feeling for so long, sometimes they really believed they could not survive the feeling and they would want to leave treatment. My goal was to help them stay and get well.

The practicing of the skills taught the residents they did not need to leave treatment because they were experiencing uncomfortable emotions but instead practicing the skills they were taught would help get them through the emotion. I use to use a child’s song from Rick Charrette album to use as an analogy.

The song was called “I love mud” and in the song it talks about children having to go through the mud because the children could go around the mud. I found this song helpful in explaining to the residents how we cannot go around our emotions or problems in life but that we needed to go through them and they would come out the other side.

This seemed to stick with most of the residents, made them laugh and they never thought of this song the same way. It wasn’t long after these types of interventions that I leaned, I enjoyed helping people change and grow simply. That the work, may start on the outside but the true change is from the inside out.

Working with residents in a more holistic approach/ wellness approach, I realized that there is a lot in life people experience or have been diagnosed with that can be helped through education and practicing of skills.

It has been working with residents in programs and watching them become dependent on medications for emotions they experience that I learned about them and myself. I learn that I am a person who is more about a holistic approach and that I think it’s time to start moving towards what I believe in and away from the medical model.

So for the past year I have been looking for something different for employment. And I didn’t know what It was I wanted to do but I knew it was time for a change. I have looked online at the employment website for jobs and nothing interested me, I took test online to see where my interest lie.  I’ve meditated and talked with friends trying to figure things out.

I drew a blank and continued to draw a blank until, then I had the pleasure of working with two different women who work as on-call staff at my place of employment.

We got talking like women do and discussing how they work with people at spas. How they do massage, polarity and esthetics. How they enjoy the variety of the job, get to see if the massage is helpful by having repeat customers and the energy work they do by doing the polarity work.

It was then that I realized I could still work and help people, it would be just in a different way.

My interest were sparked, it was like a light bulb was turned on by this new idea. I then became excited by the idea and feel this is the change I have been looking for, it is holistic, working with people, helping people and you might even get to see the result of your work.

I want the opportunity to be able to work with people, bring happiness and wellness to people’s lives by helping to heal the insides and making people feel good. If I can help people lessen their or eliminate pain, help them to be able to live their lives daily and do the things that bring them joy, then I have been successful at helping others.

It is for these reasons and my desire for a change in my life, that I am appealing to you for a scholarship. If awarded the scholarship you will be helping me to continue to help others. I appreciate you reading my essay and thank you ahead of time for your consideration.

Phyllis works as a licensed alcohol drug counselor and a certified clinical supervisor. Phyllis is trained in First Aid, MANT and is certified to administer medications. She has worked in the social services field for over 20 yrs. She has been promoted and recognized in various positions she has held. When at UMA she carried a GPA of 3.98.

  • 2015 – she was promoted from Residential Counselor /Case Manager to Residential Counselor with Programming Responsibilities, to help develop the clinical program at Volunteers of America.
  • 2006 – Employee of the year:  Promoted from House Manager to Milieu Team Leader. Recognized for managing considerably more than expected workload, developing and refining systems to monitor safety, food budget and quality, property maintenance and housekeeping.
  • She appealed to Pierce Atwood law firm for a community service day with 40 volunteers to improve the companies Windham campus. Managed to do this project with donations from the appeals sent to the community and a $ 150.00 budget from the agency and volunteers. The event was a Hugh success for property improvements and agency marketing.
  • 2004 – Employee of the year: Promoted from Residential Adviser to House Manager. Acknowledged for assuming responsibilities so well in her new position, making her new position her own and troubleshooting problems that arise. Developed and implemented orientation process for new admissions at the residential program.
  • She successfully receive donations from appeals to individuals, organizations and area businesses to help with life skills coordination part of the program and meeting client’s basic needs.
  • 2003 – Employee of the year: Phyllis was recognized for being a leader in her role at the agency, interpersonal skills, problem solving, time management and assessing severity of crisis. Developed and implemented recreational program for the clients.

When Phyllis isn’t working she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, exercise, baking and crafts. Phyllis is currently working on learning the techniques needed to become the most desirable masseuse around.

Phyllis Warchol resides 159 Albion Rd. in Windham, Maine.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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