Monday, January 28, 2013

No Holds Barred Healing

As a counselor, I have the opportunity to help adolescent consumers explore and touch upon a variety of issues or ‘human interest’ topics during their treatment. As the A.R.T.C. Specialist  of the Franklin County site, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is using the arts—music, photography, videography, creative writing, blogging, painting, and on and on—to help these consumers express their emotions, usually in very exciting and creatively appropriate ways. Even consumers that often have difficulty expressing or identifying their emotions enjoy using the arts, which grants them the freedom to say what they want. When a consumer has that ‘lightbulb’ moment where they can use colors, sounds, pictures, or words to convey what they are feeling or thinking, it is an awe-inspiring thing to witness.

We live in a scary and confusing world sometimes. Around the world there is heartbreak and suffering every day. The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook gave many people a reason to take to social media to discuss the “whys and hows” of the situation. Consumers were definitely not unaffected by this event.  Many addressed their own opinions and thoughts on this tragedy, discussing their shock and grief at the evil that exists in this world, and even more expressed underlying fears that it could happen to them at their own little schools (a hard conversation to have, regardless of age or years of experience). Fortunately, these young people were able to turn to art when words failed them as so much of what they face and have experienced is not adequately expressed in average everyday language. Whether they were expressing anger, confusion, sadness, or fear, many consumers used their creations to identify the struggle to understand ‘why’.

Most consumers I work with have a fascination with painting. As I always say, ‘art is definitely messy’ and I think they enjoy that no-holds barred type of project-making. Recently, we have used a lot of splatter painting, texture painting, or even finger painting to express emotions. When consumers engage in this project, we usually spend a lot of time addressing what their emotions are like to them, using colors to describe their feelings, and assigning colors to particular emotions. As they splatterpaint onto a canvas, or use fingers to swirl the paint around, we address which feelings they are representing with each particular color, and why they made that color choice.  Also, since some of my consumers have sensory issues, the finger-painting was therapeutic for them. We also experimented at using found objects as ‘stamps’ for their paintings, such as sponges, forks, or even pieces of bread (a very interesting session, to say the least!). If we give consumers the opportunity to use art as an outlet, perhaps they can turn to these appropriate coping skills when they experience these feelings, or would be more apt to correctly identify their emotions rather than struggle with these.   

My consumers continue to amaze me with their ability to cope and their resiliency. They give me hope that the world can still be seen as a positive and hopeful place, and that they can take these coping skills with them into the future, and teach others as well. 

by Megan Smith

About the author: Megan Smith serves as the A.R.T.C. Specialist in our Franklin County A.R.T.C. program, providing youth experiencing high risk situations with creative supportive services.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It’s Only Beer...

Burger King was one of the first fast food chains to add beer to its menu when it opened up three “WhopperBars” in 2009. Starbucks followed suit and added beer and wine to their menus in Washington and Oregon in 2010 and now has plans to add alcohol to menus in three other states. Sonic is joining in with plans to offer beer and wine in two locations to their customers who dine on the patio or inside the restaurant.

 In a time when coalitions and groups are fighting alcohol ads in venues such as the Super Bowl and fighting against alcohol being advertised to youth; when the message that needs to be spread should be that alcohol is not needed to enjoy a night out, the restaurant industry, by stating they need to sell alcohol to draw the under 30 crowd, is declaring the opposite.

Youth are being inundated with alcohol ads through television, radio, on-line sites, and print media. From alcopops making news headlines, to Facebook advertising, it’s hard for our youth not to hear about alcohol. Our society has moved from “having a drink with dinner” or “a beer with friends” to a “how much alcohol can be consumed in an hour” mentality. Unfortunately, some adults still think “it’s only beer”. Now more than ever, we need to be aware of underage drinking and how we can prevent it.

Studies have shown that parents are a huge influence on their teen’s behavior. James C. Fell, a public health researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, responded to questions on about why the legal age should remain 21. One of his statements was that “when teens feel they have their parents’ approval to drink, they do it more and more often when they are not with their parents. When parents have concrete, enforced rules about alcohol, young people binge drink less”. See the full conversation at

By Tina Stevens

About the author: Tina Stevens is a Prevention Secretary with Preferred Family Healthcare. Tina attends fairs and events to distribute information about ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs) to bring awareness to communities.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Make A New Years Resolution: Quit Smoking.

Thinking about quitting smoking in 2013? PFH’s Online, Off-Tobacco program can help. Thanks to funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health, Preferred is offering online tobacco cessation classes to anyone within the colored area on the map (view map for list of counties served).

Within just 7 weeks you will gain valuable insight on your smoking habits and triggers, create a quit plan tailored to your needs, learn to cope with urges and gain tips on nutrition, physical activity and stress management. Included with the program is a free participant workbook, $50 worth of nicotine replacement therapy or $25 gift card to any sporting goods store of your choice and guidance from a trained facilitator.

The virtual tobacco cessation program “Online Off Tobacco" is a truly innovative tobacco cessation service. This service recognizes the need for cessation services and is bringing classes to you through a virtual world.  PFH uses a 'private island' in Jibe to hold American Lung Association Freedom from Smoking sessions online. These sessions are one and a half hours a week for eight weeks. The island also features a library of information on remaining smoke-free.

Businesses, institutions and communities have already gone or are moving in the direction of becoming tobacco free, and tobacco users are surrounded by reasons to quit using and could greatly benefit from tobacco cessation services. Why not try it out for yourself?

The admission process is quick - you can simply e-mail or call the PFH Tobacco Cessation Coordinator to request admission ( or call 660.665.1962. Within 24 hours, the Coordinator sends an enrollment form to be completed and returned. The participant chooses the most convenient session time to attend, signs on, and creates a personal avatar online. Day, night and weekend sessions are offered to be as flexible as possible. Participants can continue attending Nicotine Anonymous sessions as long as they wish after completing the eight-week program.

Smoking is harmful to your health and even raises your insurance premiums. Why not save money while you are saving your own life? Take the pledge to be tobacco free in 2013.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Achieving Recovery Through Creativity

A.R.T.C. began as a program to provide substance-abusing adolescents the opportunity to tap into creative talents and convey emotions through the arts. Having experienced great success providing this service to our adolescent substance abuse consumers, PFH has begun implementing A.R.T.C. within select adult substance abuse treatment programs, and recently initiating an independent A.R.T.C. program funded by the Franklin County Children and Families Community Resource Board and being provided to high risk youth in Franklin County in Missouri. 

Using a variety of artistic mediums, A.R.T.C. participants learn to lower their defenses and express feelings without the use of mood-altering substances, and in doing so, discover parts of their selves that were otherwise hidden by a multitude of negative coping strategies and life circumstances. Participants further explore feelings and expand communication skills by discussing their completed projects in group and individual counseling settings. As their strengths and talents are validated by others, the participants experience an increase in confidence and self-worth. 

A.R.T.C. uses visual arts, music, and creative writing to encourage the expression of difficult emotions and provide consumers with an opportunity to explore activities that can serve as a means of healthy recreation as they strive to remain drug-free, let go of high risk behaviors and cope with difficult situations. Currently A.R.T.C. is offered within 15 PFH programs that serve youth and families across the state of Missouri and Kansas.

Despite our growth, we are far from reaching our goal. Our mission is to be a more centralized component of our comprehensive treatment programs and to continue to offer A.R.T.C. to large consumer bases.Our goals include acquisition of additional musical equipment and instruments, photography equipment, and videography equipment. The remarkable impact of creative expression on the consumers with whom we work becomes more evident every day.

It is the aim of Preferred Family Healthcare, Inc. to always think outside of the box and consistently strive to provide the highest quality care to our consumers through the most innovative means possible.

To find out more check out our website or our Pinterest page!