The Heart Work + Heavy Lifting of Addiction Recovery
Part 2 – Counseling at the Charis House
Last week, we met Amy Hagler, a Troy University student working for her Masters in Counseling and Psychology. Amy has been interning at the Charis House during 2021, an experience that has encouraged her academically and challenged her emotionally. Amy believes that God led her to intern at the Charis House to help her heal from her own trauma associated with the death of her estranged husband from addiction. This week, we’ll learn more about Amy’s time at the Charis House and where she believes God is leading her next.
An individualized treatment plan is created for each woman who enters Phase I of the Charis House. Women receive one-on-one weekly counseling, and are also required to participate in group support sessions as well as a variety of classes to address issues and develop new skills. Karen Cox, the Charis House Therapist and Amy’s clinical supervisor, has been happy to have Amy’s perspective and knowledge to share with the Charis House ladies. “Amy came with some strong clinical skills and an educational foundation and experience which has enhanced what she has had to offer us. She is passionate and energetic, and loves to use activities and experiences to enhance lessons. She is insightful and confident and has been willing to challenge the ladies on new levels and in new areas.”
One of Amy’s responsibilities during her internship has been leading therapy groups. “Right now, I am doing a trauma group and an anger management class. I also see the ladies weekly for counseling sessions. I see them specifically to work through the 12 Steps curriculum, and as they finish, I work with them to address trauma in their lives. I am working towards certification in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) – a theoretical model and evidence-based treatment for trauma, PTSD, and anxiety – so I have begun using it with the ladies at Charis House.”
“A common theme I’ve seen, which is supported by clinical research, is that every single one of these ladies has been through some kind of trauma in her life. Childhood sexual abuse is a huge commonality. Many of the women who come through have been brutalized by men. Another common theme is the generational pattern of addiction. Addiction is a pervasive rot that spreads across family trees. It usually does not occur in isolation. No one dreams as a child of growing up and becoming an addict, of destroying relationships and burning bridges with family and friends, or of choosing a substance over being a mother.”
Amy stresses that the Charis House structure is not your typical “rehab facility.” “The Charis House model is unlike any other out there that I have seen. The fact that the program is completely funded by Ministry Village at Olive is remarkable. To be able to offer a safe place without cost for up to a year to women who most assuredly would not be able to afford it otherwise is nothing short of miraculous. What the leaders of Charis House do with the budget allotted them is heroic. This program is not just about getting addicts sobered up and sending them on their way. The goal of Charis House is spiritual transformation. It is beautiful to be a part of that work.”
During Amy’s time at the Charis House, she has been deeply impressed with the care and love provided by the volunteers who work daily with the women. “There is a wonderfully diverse group of volunteers who give of their time and resources to minister to these ladies through leading Bible studies. Addiction does not discriminate, and it appears that many of the volunteers have been touched by addiction in some way, whether through their own past struggles with addiction or through a loved one’s.”
While working in a ministry full of emotional baggage as well as emotional transformations can be mentally exhausting, Amy continually feels inspired and motivated because of the changes she sees in the women who fully surrender to the process and to God’s restoration. “I love seeing the ladies at different stages of recovery. Watching the ladies who are in Phase II, and seeing how they are building their lives after years of addiction, is encouraging and motivating. Working in this ministry can be frustrating and discouraging. You learn to give it your best, to leave it all out on the proverbial field, and let God be in charge of the results. It’s humbling to acknowledge that no matter how much education and training I complete, I cannot save anyone. I do what God has commissioned me to do, and I trust that His Word and His work through me will ultimately not return void.”
When asked where Amy goes from here, she focuses less on what job she would like, and more on the role she would like to play in the lives of others. “I hope to be a part of addressing trauma in women’s lives. My ultimate God-sized dream is to open a faith-based residential trauma recovery center for women (not specifically for substance abuse), so I am learning how Charis House is run, funded, and supported. I believe there are so many women in churches who love the Lord and do their best to serve Him while they white-knuckle through life and pray for a healing that they aren’t sure exists. I believe God’s intent for us to ‘have life and life more abundantly’ is echoed in Jesus’ ministry of healing while He was on earth. I want to see women set free in Jesus’ name of the baggage that comes with trauma. I am learning what that might look like someday thanks to my work at Charis House.”
The mission of Ministry Village at Olive is to put the words of Jesus into action throughout our community – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) If you are looking for a place to demonstrate kindness to others for the glory of God, give us a call. We have opportunities through the Bargain Center; at our Tender Hearts Caring Hands benevolence program and food pantry; through the Most Excellent Way addiction support groups; at the Charis House; and at the Ministry Village Early Learning Center.
The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse recovery program for females. The program is designed in 3 phases, each offering stages of recovery that provide the necessary tools for a practical transition into a new lifestyle free of addiction. The faith-based recovery program addresses the client’s personal relationship with God as the foundation for healing and wholeness. It requires a willingness to change and adhere to a controlled, strict and disciplined environment, allowing life-changing experiences to occur. There is no fee to apply.
To learn more about the Charis House, or how you can support our programs, click here or contact Vanessa Bettis at 850-475-1116 or VBettis@MinistryVillage.org.
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