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“My daughter has settled in well and is working hard on her recovery. Cori, my daughter’s case manager, has been great and has assessed her needs and personality quite accurately. Cori, from what I can see, has respected boundaries but also pushes in a way that gets my daughter to share a bit more than she would like, but in the end helps her to see what she needs to work on. I would call that a breakthrough.

Cori has also helped my daughter discover jujitsu, which has made her speak with a spark and energy I have not seen since she was a little girl. When she calls me, it's usually to tell me about a jujitsu class and how hysterical and tough it is. It's hard to understand her because she is laughing so hard and what she doesn't know is that tears are streaming from my eyes since I am so grateful that she is feeling something which I haven't seen her do in quite some time. I have told her that I would love to watch her do jujitsu and she says, ‘sure mom, come and watch one day it's so hard but so much fun’.

Lauren has again been amazing support for me as she was when my son was at Turnbridge. Responsive, caring and has helped me find the words to support my daughter, but also my son in his new phase.  I have also met with Jack Britton for two very helpful family therapy sessions. He is very good at listening, remembering, and offering his perspective.

I hope all is going well with you and once again I am so grateful for the care and support my second child and me are receiving from the Turnbridge team.”

A grateful mother

This Issue

Family Mailbag

Rec & Lifestyle


From the Family


Unsung Hero

Clinician’s Corner

Resident Profile

Recreation and Lifestyle


This month, Phase II clients of the Turnbridge Men’s program headed up to TD Garden in Boston to see a potential NBA playoff preview, the Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards.

At Turnbridge, we believe it is crucial for young men and women in early recovery to learn to have fun without using drugs and alcohol. Recreational activities give Turnbridge clients the opportunity to see that they can enjoy the same hobbies and leisure activities while sober.

Alumni quote

“I had a really great time at the game,” said Spencer B., Phase II client. “It was a great experience and I was happy I was able to enjoy it while sober.”

“I’ve never been to a live basketball game before so it was awesome to have the opportunity to go see one,” Phase II client, Dan O., said. “It was proof that I can have fun sober.”


Unsung Hero
Unsung Hero Headshot

Drew Pandiani

Drew Pandiana, a member of the Turnbridge Men’s Program Support Staff team, has been awarded the Unsung Hero of the Month Award for April 2017. Drew is a charismatic and empathetic personality whose desire to give back, combined with his personal experience as an alumni of Turnbridge, makes him an ideal mentor to new clients entering the program.

“I see the struggle, and the fight, in each and every one of these guys daily,” said Drew. “I experienced the same when I went through, and it’s not easy. I am here to try and make that fight a little easier.”

“I really enjoy seeing the guys progress from Phase 1 into Phase 2 and so on,” said Drew. “Some of them are even Support Staff now. This job has provided me with opportunities to help people make the kind of positive changes that have helped me so much.”

“I love working here. The clients teach me so much, and I continue to learn about myself and my recovery,” said Drew.

Events Calendar
From the Famliy

Jamie F., the mother of current Phase III client, Matt F., nearly lost him to an overdose,

but since enrolling at Turnbridge she has watched him embrace recovery and build a beautiful life for himself. Jamie recalled that Matt was a very personable and outgoing child, who embodies many qualities of a leader. His father was in the Air Force, which required the family to relocate multiple times during Matt’s childhood.

At one point, Matt father was deployed and shortly afterward Jamie was diagnosed with cancer. “Matt and his little brother both really had to step up at such a young age because I was weak,” said Jamie. Matt was about 9 years old and was looking after his mother and little brother. “It was a lot of stress and I don’t think he really articulated the stress, but he internalized it,” said Jamie. “I believe Matt was also very worried about losing his dad because we had some friends who lost their father in the Air Force.”

Family photoAccording to Jamie, It was not until high school that Matt was introduced to the party scene. “I believe he began to drink maybe a few times but nothing consequential,” she said. Matt continued to drink into his college years, but was not yet experiencing consequences from his use.

“During Matt’s junior year in college, his little brother was diagnosed with cancer and his grandmother had just passed away and I think he turned to substances to help deal with the stress,” Jamie said. During a trip home for Christmas, Matt’s family noticed some things were off. “He seemed a little spaced out and wasn’t his normal self.”

“We couldn’t figure out what was going on,” said Jamie. Matt continued to do well at school, and was accepted into graduate school. Not too long after, Matt’s brother passed away. “I don’t think he processed it and he had a really tough time,” Jamie said.

Following a routine surgery, Matt was prescribed pain medications. “I think they prescribed him way too many pain killers,” said Jamie. “I think he continued taking them to ease his stress and developed a dependency on them.”

One day, Matt’s mother decided to drive down to his college to check on him. He appeared to be sleeping when she arrived. “He continued sleeping for a very long time,” said Jamie. “I then found some paraphernalia and immediately called 911.” Matt had overdosed.

“He almost didn’t make it,” said Jamie. Matt spent 7 days in the ICU and came very close to death. “We were terrified. We had just lost our other son.”

One of Jamie’s life-long friends had recommended Turnbridge to her. “They told me that long term treatment was the only thing that worked and we didn’t look back,” said Jamie. Matt enrolled at Turnbridge.

“The second he arrived, we felt very comfortable and confident in the people of Turnbridge,” Jamie said.

Matt was motivated and dove right into the work required of him at Turnbridge. “I think he was tired of doing what he was doing and was truly happy to be at Turnbridge,” said Jamie. Matt established himself as a leader in the community and started building many meaningful relationships with his peers.

“The family workshops at Turnbridge were amazing,” said Jamie. “I got involved in Al-Anon and was reading a ton of material to learn that this was not my fault. I would not have got through this without the assistance and guidance of Turnbridge.”

“We have 100% confidence in Turnbridge and Matt has appreciated and trusted the process,” said Jamie. “I think it instilled some manhood in him that we couldn’t teach him.”

Matt continued to progress through the program and was eventually offered a House Manager position in Phase III. Matt was also recently accepted into graduate school at a local university and will be attending classes next semester.

“We both agreed that coming home wasn’t the best option and he wants to stay in Connecticut,” Jamie said. “We are so grateful for Turnbridge and for Matt. We never once doubted the program.”

Clinicians Corner

The Therapeutic Alliance

In many adult clinical settings, adults are choosing to seek out a private practice clinician, which means inherently that they are willing and motivated for treatment and making changes in their personal lives. The majority of our young men and women do not fall into this category when they first enter treatment. They express reluctance, sometimes to the point of resistance for treatment. Working with a therapist counters young adults inherent demand for independence and their developmental strive to differentiate themselves from authority. These factors can lead to treatment interfering behaviors (late for session, skipping session, omitting important information on purpose) if the therapeutic alliance is not cultivated from the very beginning. Research has identified that a healthy therapeutic alliance means there is mutual respect, a sharing of the time together (“were in this together”), openness (no judgment), role differentiation (clear boundaries), guidance (suggestions rather than advice), trust (consistency and clear expectations), and mutual taking of responsibility. The more resistant the client, the more essential the respect and trust in the alliance becomes.

While all of this is easy to agree with and understand in the abstract, the reality of therapeutic alliances is that they take time. Those qualities listed above take weeks of consistency on behalf of the therapist. One of a therapist’s most essential skills is the ability to “meet the client where they are at”. That means for the more resistant clients, significant clinical change does not begin until some time into treatment. This can be frustrating both to the client and to their families as our clients come to us in crisis and all parties hope to “feel better as soon as possible”. Clinically significant change can’t always be seen week to week and is instead noticed over time; similar to the phrase “Rome wasn't built in a day”.

The length and structure of the Turnbridge Program is one of the best breeding grounds for a healthy therapeutic alliance out there. All research on this topic has identified that the alliance (as in all relationships) ebbs and flows through the treatment process. For example, a healthy therapeutic alliance allows a space for more significant clinical work and healing. Though, once that more intense work begins, the alliance can become strained and seen as a place of stress rather than healing and the client can begin to avoid. Re-engaging the client again then relies on the therapist refocusing back on the safety, trust, and collaborative nature of the alliance. The evolution of the therapeutic alliance through treatment is as essential to a client as any specific breakthroughs they make in session; it is the most effective tool in demonstrating to them they can work through a setback as a learning opportunity rather than a failure with the support of a consistent adult.

The therapeutic alliance, when done correctly, becomes an example for healthy interactions with adults, healthy expression of emotion, a connection with another person with healthy boundaries, and a secure attachment based on trust that allows for empowering the client to make their own solutions. And, as is no news to any of us, our clients demonstrate increased motivation and drive when they choose to.

Resident ProfileAlumni picture

Originally from Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington D.C., Justin grew up in a loving family and had an idyllic childhood.

“I was given everything I needed to succeed from a very early age,” recalled Justin.

“I smoked pot for the first time when I was 14 and didn’t really like it,” said Justin. But, right around this time, Justin was also introduced to alcohol. “I liked it a lot more. I felt more sociable and more fun while drinking.”

Justin began drinking more frequently, but it wasn’t yet affecting his grades, home life, or involvement in athletics. Around the age of 18, Justin reports that he began drinking more frequently and in greater quantities, often until blacking out. “At the time, I thought it was just a normal high school kid thing,” said Justin.

Closely following his high school graduation, Justin purchased a fake ID and began drinking every day. It wasn’t long after that Justin was arrested following a drunk driving incident in which an ambulance needed to be called.

Alumni quote

Justin would, nonetheless, go on to attend college, but his life continued to become more and more unmanageable. “I began drinking every day, all day, morning to night,” said Justin. His drinking came with many consequences. He violated the school’s alcohol policy multiple times and was eventually forced to withdraw in order to avoid an expulsion.

Due to his ongoing legal woes, Justin was judicially mandated to a treatment center in Florida where he stayed for a little over a month. After completing treatment, Justin went back home to a local sober house where he continued to stay sober for a few months.Justin eventually was asked to leave the sober house due to a house rule violation. Shortly after Justin left the sober house he began drinking again.

“It only took me a few days to start drinking all day again,” said Justin. “I would wake up every morning at 8:00am and ride my bike to the Safeway to get alcohol. I couldn’t function without it and felt like I had no purpose without it.”

Alumni quote

One night, after drinking an entire handle of liquor, “I woke up in a hospital and had no recollection of anything,” said Justin. Justin’s parents acted fast to research options for him, and with the help of a professional were referred to Turnbridge.

Justin arrived at Turnbridge, and was initially resistant to the structure and support. Eventually, he began doing the work and started taking the suggestions being made to him. “My life progressively started getting better,” said Justin. “I’ve made more friends here than ever before and really enjoy it here now.” By the time Justin was transitioning into Phase III of the program, he was starting to see truly profound changes in himself.

Justin is now successfully balancing a part-time job and school, while actively participating in all other aspects of the Phase III curriculum. “I never thought this is where I would be today,” said Justin.“And so happy doing it,” he added. “I have everything I could ever want right now. A year ago, I had nothing.”

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