Counselor Bernard Shalvey’s Best Tips for Recovery

March 23, 2020

This blog is a part of our ongoing series on recovery tips. Each month, a Fellowship Hall counselor will give our readers their very best tips for getting treatment, being successful in therapy and maintaining sobriety.  Be sure to read them all.

My name is Bernard Shalvey, and I am a “Men’s Primary Counselor” here at Fellowship Hall. I currently hold a M.S. in Couples and Family Counseling as well as a M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am a NCC (Nationally Certified Counselor) and have the following provisional licenses: LCMHC-A and LCAS-A. I started at Fellowship Hall shortly after finishing my M.S. from UNCG’s counseling program on May 15th , 2019. I started working at Fellowship Hall after completing my yearlong internship where I worked under Kendria Harris in the family program, and in the main program under Joe Peascoe.

I provide counseling services to individuals and groups with varying identities, primarily on 12 step based work addressing their SUD (Substance Use Disorder). Each treatment plan is created collaboratively with the guest in treatment and tailored to their specific needs. Treatment goals are added based on an individual’s presenting concerns. Additionally: I complete regular group counseling sessions, provide lectures, complete bio-psycho-social assessments, assess for safety and the appropriateness of a guest to remain at our level of care, work with families and our aftercare coordinator to provide appropriate referrals, and teach specialty classes via psycho-education. I use a variety of interventions with guests including EFIT (Emotion focused individual therapy) IFS (internal family systems theory) and MI (motivational interviewing) with a primary focus on the 12 step philosophy. I work collaboratively with a team to provide the highest level of integrated care (psychiatric, medial, clinical and after care). I meet with each guest for 8 individual sessions during their 28 day stay in treatment. I work diligently, and with great passion, with the team here at Fellowship Hall to ensure that each individual has the best possible opportunity for success in long term recovery.

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There is an old saying that goes, “may you live in interesting times,” and we seem to be living in quite interesting times indeed. The COVID-19 virus outbreak is an unprecedented situation–bringing new anxieties and challenges to those in recovery. Work and gathering restrictions vary by state and region but nation-wide, the Center for Disease Control has encouraged individuals to stay inside and practice social distancing. Here at Fellowship Hall we are thinking of everyone in recovery and their families during this time.

Now is the time to look after yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. At Fellowship Hall, we are committed to the safety, well-being, and success of both our current guests and our alumni.

Bernard has put together some of his best advice and suggestions for recovery below. Though some of the suggestions offered involve face-to-face meetings and social contact (AA/NA meetings), we have provided resources at the foot of this post where you can find digital supplements for these components of the tips. 

Bernard’s Top Tips:

  • Getting through detox: Find distractions and people who have done it successfully to help remind you that it does not last forever and that it will pass in time.
  • Getting through treatment: Allow yourself to be challenged [and] to investigate your internal emotional self. This type of internal work will be challenging but it is ultimately what will allow you to be successful in recovery. Also, listen to the guidance you are given even when everything in you is telling you to reject it. Figure out the difference between your diseased thinking and the truth.
  • Making the first phone call: Talk to your counselor about guilt and shame first, and ask for their guidance. Don’t make amends to your loved ones at this point (amends come at steps 8 and 9 when they will be more meaningful). Also, set boundaries with your family members/loved ones. This is your recovery and if you find that you are shamed for your behavior, set some boundaries to protect yourself from that hurt (also talk to your counselor about the specifics of this, as well as recommend the family program to your family members).
  • Handling your first event: Evaluate your motives. If there will be alcohol served or drugs present, ask yourself what your true motive for wanting to go is (you may be plotting your own relapse without really knowing it yet). You may be triggered, just by being with family members.  Let someone know before you go that you will be in a potentially triggering situation, in addition to having an “escape plan”.  An escape plan can be easy access to a vehicle or ride to leave the event, an alibi or someplace to be at a certain time (NA/AA meeting, coffee with your sponsor, meeting others in recovery somewhere, etc.), or come early and leave early.
  • Generally Speaking: To be successful in recovery ask for help, listen to the guidance and act on it regardless of how you feel about it. Seek “outside help” as addiction/alcoholism is traumatizing. Act in self-compassion and see a therapist who can help you process what you have been through and what you are currently going through. Remain teachable and constantly engage with the concept that “I cannot use successfully just for today”.

Each morning on our Instagram page (@FellowshipHallNC) and our Facebook page, we will be sharing passages from the AA/NA Daily Reader, reviewing the 12 steps, and posting positive affirmations and helpful tips for recovery. Please turn on post notifications, check the pages daily, and share with friends. While those in recovery may not be able to attend face-to-face meetings, there are several digital resources available. Visit our Alumni Online Resources page for a current list of online resources.

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