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Portia & Luis’ Workshops


Portia's & Luis's Workshops

Workshop Synopsis

Luis and I conduct the weekend workshops.  We have been working together for many years and our approach is complimentary.  We believe that recovery is more than learning sobriety skills, as found in our Relapse Prevention and Post-Treatment Planning workshops.  Interpersonal workshops, such as Interpersonal Communication, Anger Management, and Conflict Resolution, are also provided as they assist clients in developing skills that will improve their personal and professional relationships.  When people have healthy relationships, quality of life is significantly enhanced.  Other workshops like Shame & Guilt, Self-Esteem and Relationships are important as they help clients resolve unfinished business, achieve catharsis (insight that leads to emotional release, which in turn, inspires making lifestyle changes) and increase their knowledge of themselves and their place in the world.

As a Creative Art Therapist, I use creative modalities like art, drama and music, to illustrate workshop material.  The above picture, for example, is a shame & guilt box.  Clients write all shame & guilt experiences on a piece of paper and place it in the box.  The box itself is an illustration of what is written in the letter.  They have the option of sharing their shame & guilt experiences with the group.  Clients however, do process the creative art therapy session together.  At the end of the workshop, Heritage Treatment Foundation clients have the opportunity to burn their ‘shame & guilt’ in a ritual fire.

Anger Management

Contrary to general opinion, anger management does not simply relate to aggressive behaviour.  As my workshop shows, anger takes many forms: passive anger, passive-aggressive anger, aggressive anger, and projective anger.  During the course of the workshop, clients identify their anger style, learn anger coping and responding strategies, improve their communication skills, and have the opportunity to address unresolved anger issues.

Conflict Resolution

The ability to effectively resolve conflict is a character strength that improves personal and professional relationships.  Heritage Treatment Foundation clients learn how to balance their relationship and personal goals by using a variety of resolution techniques (e.g., avoiding, competing, accommodating, compromising, and problem solving).  Clients develop their ability to apply these techniques in appropriate situations.

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Interpersonal Communication

A person’s ability to listen effectively is the fundamental basis of interpersonal communication.  Heritage Treatment Foundation clients learn a variety of interpersonal communication skills like giving and receiving feedback, verbal and non-verbal communication, and building and maintaining trust – all of which assist in their ability to listen to a sender’s message and be able to respond in a respectful and appropriate manner.

Post-Treatment Planning

Often we are asked the success rate of the centre.  I always respond that success is heavily dependent upon clients implementing their post-treatment plan.  Most often, clients begin to feel ‘normal and good’ soon after arriving at Heritage Treatment Foundation.  This sometimes leads to incorrectly believing feel that recovery is easier than it really is; and therefore, their post-treatment work is not continued when they leave.  Not making important lifestyle changes such as, continuing therapy and/or attending 12-step meetings, obtaining viable and sustained employment and/or furthering one’s education, as well as finding healthy and enjoyable ways of spending leisure time increases the risk of relapse.  Each Heritage Treatment Foundation client is assigned to a counsellor and he or she will work closely to develop an effective post-treatment plan. It is the client’s responsibility to continue their sobriety journey when they leave the centre.

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Relapse Prevention

At Heritage Treatment Foundation, we believe that recovery is a learning process (addiction, in part, results from using unhealthy behavioural and attitude habits to cope with life and these habits need to be ‘unlearned’ and replaced with healthy and effective coping skills).  This process primarily develops clients’ understanding of their internal and external triggers.  Internal triggers may include self-sabotage, anxiety, and depression; external triggers include, ‘people, places and things’.  Clients address their internal and external triggers by developing coping strategies, evaluating the quality of their relationships, and resolving issues that may lead to relapse.


I have worked in the addiction field for 7 years and I have often heard clients say that family members do not understand what it means to be an addict.  Well, it can be said that the opposite is true – that ‘addicts’ do not understand what it is like to be a family member.  The problem with this faulty belief is understanding of one another is hindered because one has not ‘walked in my shoes and therefore you cannot possibly understand me’.  The Relationship workshop strives to bridge the ‘addict and non-addict’ gap.  It is not necessary to have lived someone else’s life in order to have compassion, empathy or sympathy and understanding of another person.  All that is needed is a healthy commitment to improving the quality of the relationship and the skills to dialogue effectively, demonstrating both sensitively and patience.  The goal of developing a greater understanding of loved-ones, that in turn, improves the quality of relationships, is achieved by examining co-dependency issues, and what makes relationships healthy or unhealthy.

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Self-esteem is viewed as being characterlogical or situational.  People who suffer from characterlogical low self-esteem believe that they are worthless as a human being and this makes them unlovable to themselves and others.  People who have situational self-esteem issues have a somewhat normal self-esteem, but they feel inadequate in certain areas.  A person may, for example, feel good about who they are as a caregiver, but feel inadequate as a professional.    Regardless of the type of self-esteem one has, Heritage Treatment Foundation clients begin to develop healthy self-esteem by changing their personal critic messages (thought messages that one tells him or herself that are not constructive, objective or supportive), exploring personal values and the behaviours that either support or contradict their values, and redefining their self-concept in a manner that eliminates the stigma of the ‘addict’.  By the end of the workshop, Heritage Treatment Foundation clients begin to appreciate that true self-esteem can not be provided through relationships, success, or achievements, and most importantly, this inherent gift cannot be taken away because we are all equal in our humanness.

Shame & Guilt

The Shame and Guilt workshop is the most rewarding, challenging, and emotional workshop Heritage Treatment Foundation clients will undergo.  Family of origin shame and guilt, as well as, addiction shame and guilt are core issues that need to be resolved before one can heal from the past.  It is not uncommon for people who feel shame and guilt to have suffered from childhood abuse and neglect and/or have developed feelings of shame and guilt during the course of their addiction.  Acceptance, forgiveness and atonement are ways that clients begin to resolve their feelings of shame and guilt.  The purpose of this workshop is not to ‘drudge up past pain’, but to examine how feelings of shame and guilt affect clients in a present-day context.


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