Niels Nijland Psychology Intern from Amsterdam University
“It has been the most amazing experience of my life so far”
I have been an intern at hope for about six months now. It has been the most amazing experience of my life so far. The first two weeks were difficult for me as I was adjusting to the new routine (getting up at 6 in the morning was not something I usually did) and adjusting to the new place where I was going to spend the next six months. Very fast thoughts came rushing to my head ‘I am not cut out for this’, ‘I am not good enough for this’, ‘I will never be able to be an asset to this place’. Luckily for me the staff at hope is really supportive. They involve you in everything. I got to sit in every group, do all the activities, see the AA and NA meetings and after about two weeks of getting used to the routine.
I realized that when you start out in a new place of course you’re not going to know everything from day one, everyone has to learn. What I really started to love about Hope were the people involved and they way they interact with each other and with me. There is a mutual respect between clients and staff that makes for a really nice atmosphere. My first weeks I engaged in everything, made long days but it was worth it. After a while I got more responsibilities such as taking clients shopping, to the dentist or taking them out for sporting activities. During these little trips I find it very important to try and connect with the clients. When you connect with clients and they start telling me what is really going on with them that’s when I know I they trust me and that is very important in this line of work. Hope has offered me a lot of freedom and responsibilities .
Three times a week I give a bootcamp class in the morning. This is a morning fitness class which I really enjoy. I also gave my own group session, this was a training that I put together myself, I was nervous standing in front of 18 clients and giving my own training but it was a really awesome experience. During the day I help clients with stepwork, Hope is 12 step and CBT based. Taking initiative is very much appreciated in Hope so if I have an idea to do something it is almost always encouraged by Hope. The four months I have been here have been an amazing experience so far. I have learned so much and gained a true insight in how addiction works, what it does to people and how to treat it.
The 5 most important things I learned at Hope
– Everyone is on their own journey and has their own story
This is a big thing for met that I have learned. Being here made me realise that I used to judge a book quite quick by it’s cover. This is a very common thing to do but being at Hope made me realise there is a lot that goes on in people their minds, battles they are fighting. Understanding what goes on in someones mind and what have been trough in the past helps to understand their actions. To understand this helps to understand their actions, not to justify it but to understand it.
– Treat people with respect and you will be treated with respect
The way Hope interacts with clients makes for a great place to work. Clients are treated like the adults they are. Everyone is treated with respect this forms a great bond between staff and clients with the trust that is needed in a rehab.
– It’s ok to not be ok
This is something that was new for me. I had always lived my life in the notion that especially as a man you have to be OK and if I’m not OK I will deal with this myself and not show it to others because I have to be strong. This perception has changed massively since I have been at hope. Talking about your feelings and thoughts is a massive part of rehab and recovery. Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up inside of you is a dangerous thing and the notion that you can’t show vulnerability is massively outdated. Showing your true emotions to others is an intimate and a wonderful experience.
– Rehab is a mixture of serious counselling and fun activities
The mixture within this rehab of counselling, group sessions and fun/fitness activities works really well in my opinion. The mornings start with morning exercise, this varies between yoga, bike rides and bootcoamp, in bootcamp you work out all your muscles with your bodyweight. After that the mornings are filled with group sessions and in the afternoon the clients either have 1 on 1 sessions or I do some form of exercise with them. Hope gives me full freedom and responsibilities to do whatever kind of activity I feel fit for that day. Examples of activities I do during the day are bike rides, Basketballing, swimming or weightlifting. All in all I feel like the mixture of sport and counselling works really well.
– If you put in the work everyone is capable of change.
I have seen quite a few clients come and go by now and I can honestly say that getting that message months after the client has left saying that he/she is doing amazing, has a sponsor, is going to meetings and is loving life is one of the best things there is. The people that did the work at hope, got stuck into the steps, did the exercise and then gone home and gone to meetings and got a sponsor. Those people make it and I believe anyone can do it.
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