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Your Voice Matters

A month ago I wrote a post called "On My Own" about how it felt to be essentially dumped by my treatment center after 11 years because they were taken over my a larger franchise of treatment center called The Emily Program. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you stop reading this, go back to the blog main page and read that post first. Otherwise, none of this post will make much sense.

If you're still here, I assume that means you are all caught up.

When I shared on Instagram about the post I tagged The Emily Program. I had no expectation of getting any sort of response from them, but I they have a very active social media account so I thought why not? Six days later, they commented on my post apologizing for the negative experience I had and directed me toward the form on their website to complete their grievance form. Having already spelled out my "negative experience" on my blog my response was simple, I said "you can read my formal complaint at Not long after that, my phone started blowing up with notifications of visitor after visitor on the "On My Own" post. Location of these visitors were from the area in which The Emily Program is headquartered.

I was amazed that they even acknowledged my post, and even more amazed that they were taking the time to read my post. But that alone didn't give me faith that anything would be done. I am well aware that companies have media departments who's main focus is to make sure their brand maintains a positive reputation. In fact, now a days if you make a complaint on social media and tag the company you will get a quicker response to remedy your issue than if you had gone through the formal channels. I invited The Emily Program to begin a dialogue with me to continue discussing my experience and my feelings toward their policies that restrict services to clients because of their needed level of care. Again, I was shocked when they agreed. They gave me an email address to send my contact info to which I responded to right away.

Days went by with no word. I was not at all surprised by this. My thought was they just said what they needed to say on social media to create the appearance of being a caring treatment center that wants to work with their clients to ensure they are happy and feel supported, but in reality had no intentions to actually live to their word. All the while I was still receiving notifications of site visitors from their HQ area. I started getting paranoid that maybe they were gathering evidence to sue me for some sort of defamation lawsuit (irrational thoughts are a common manifestation of my anxiety). I began to worry that I bit off more than I could chew by taking on a large company. Who was I to think I could make a change?

The Friday following my initial contact on Instagram, the program director for the Columbus Emily Program gave me a call. It was in the morning and I was obviously busy at work, so I couldn't answer, but I did call back as soon as I could that afternoon. We had a great conversation. He took the time to listen to my experience, how the change in care was communicated and how I, as a client with a mental illness, perceived their new policies. He had been with my original treatment center prior to the take over and he expressed that he genuinely cares that the transition go smoothly for all clients, especially the clients that have been with the center for many years. He said that it appeared that 95% of their clients were having a smooth transition, but he is concerned about the other 5%, which are likely in situations similar to mine. I let him know how their policy of bundling care is great for those that require that, but it excludes clients in later stages of recovery that don't require that same level, but yet still need ongoing support and a home base for when life throws them a curveball. He explained how they don't have the staffing capacity to continue taking clients on the same way they had in the past with the old ownership, which I immediately called him on. It was absurd to me that they would say they don't have the time for me when I am only asking for help 4 times a year if that. My demand of their center is minimal, so to say you don't have the staffing is ridiculous. I understand if I needed full wrap around services weekly and case loads were full, but I literally need 4 appointments a year and most time that appointment lasts 15 minutes. Come on!

After listening to my frustrations and concerns, which I emphasized that I was likely not their only client feeling this way, just one willing to say something, the director said he would have to have some discussions with some people in the company and he would like to follow up with me about where things are going. He was absolutely great at giving me a timeframe for when he would likely be able to follow up. I really appreciated this as it ensured me that I wasn't just being strung along.

Another week went by and I finally got a call back from the director. He ensured me that I would still be able to get my medication through them even while seeing an outside therapist and that I would not be losing that service. I said that's wonderful, but I need to know that this is something center wide and not just an exception because I spoke up about the unfairness. He assured me that they will assess clients case by case to ensure that they receive the services necessary for their given situations. Then I asked about nutrition services because he seemed laser focused on assuring me I would still get my medicine services with them. He said that he would definitely reach out to my dietitian and get me back on her case load. The next day, I got a call to schedule a nutrition appointment.

I am extremely grateful that The Emily Program proved me wrong and was willing to speak with me, hear my concerns, and find a solution to this problem. I feel more at ease knowing that I can still receive the level of care I need based on my recovery needs. I no longer feel completely thrown out with the bath water.

But I do still have some concerns. I still worry that the solution to my problem is not a solution to the general problem. By this I mean, I worry that another client could have the exact, or similar, experience with them and because they don't call them out on it, they will be on their own with no supportive services from The Emily Program. I know the director said they would evaluate on a case by case basis, but clearly before our conversation my case was viewed as one that no longer needed to be their client. I hope and pray that my voice struck a chord with someone in the company that has the power to establish real policy change. I hope and pray that no client will ever feel as if they are not sick enough or lucrative enough to receive support.

Even with outstanding worries, I do have to give The Emily Program credit for following through on their word to have an open dialogue and not just blow smoke up my butt. I am grateful that they listened and are ensuring that I can get the support I need through my continued journey in recovery.

Your voice has power. Your words have power. Don't ever believe that you alone cannot make a difference, because you can. The difference may not happen overnight, or to the extent in which you envision, but baby steps in the direction of change count. If something strikes your soul as unfair or unjust, don't sit back and watch in silence. Use your voice! I promise, at the end of the day you will feel better knowing you used your power to make a change.

<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful

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