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A Letter from one of our Sponsors

01 Feb 2018

Thank you for asking me to explain something about Withersdane. The idea for Withersdane was to have a clinic that could help with all the stages of recovery and also all the levels of intensity that clients need.

When you look around clinics what you will generally find is that they are priced based on the level of intensity of treatment that the clients are receiving. At the cheapest end, these are like community detoxes provided in a residential setting, and at the most expensive end, they have 24 hour medical care and a more intensive, more individualised treatment programme. The difficulty is that when people come into treatment, their needs very often change, or they realise that their needs are different from what they at first imagined.

Also, there are three main stages of treatment. There is the primary care, including detox where necessary, which is commonly 28 days, and involves stabalising and building a psychological foundation. Then secondary care ( or halfway, I know people use different phrases for all these stages ) where people are in less therapy, maybe just a half day, and then go out and get experience of the outside world again, building up their strength and resilience to life's pressures whilst still being actively involved in therapy. Finally, there are sober living communities where people stay within a group of other people in recovery but they go out to work or volunteer and stay for up to a year.

So you have three stages of treatment and three levels of intensity of treatment, this gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to treatment plans. This is a real blessing, either as a therapist, or as a client since the illnesses we manage don’t follow an exactly linear path. I didn’t get ill in a straight line and I didn’t get well in a straight line. I also had many concurrent problems and trying to deal with them all would be like trying to play that ‘whack a mole’ game at the funfair, just as I thought I had dealt with one set of issues, another would appear! At Withersdane, all of this is easy to take into account, people can pass through the stages but if they feel that they need more support, they can move back up in the intensity of the support they are getting and then back down again. If they realise they need longer, they can see the people in the next building over who have stayed on and they can discuss the pros and cons with them directly. It’s this transparency and fluidity which are some of the hallmarks of Withersdane

All of this is taking place on one big site and the people in the volunteer / sober living community often volunteer around the site doing jobs from housekeeping to gardening or maintenance. The fantastic thing about this is that the new patients are always going to be bumping into people who are a few months down the line in their recoveries. I know clinics like ours employ a lot of clinical staff who are in recovery but when I was in treatment myself, the length of time that the therapists had been in recovery didn’t seem at all achievable. This is one of the things I love about Withersdane, the patients are always living and working around people just a few months ahead of them, which feels much more achievable.

It’s really interesting to note that people in our clinic move fluidly across the programs, some people realise that they don’t need the intensity they started with and want to go down to the lowest intensity to make their treatment last longer, and others find that they have more problems and really want more intense input. This strikes me as so much better than having to find another clinic to move to or being stuck in a programme that doesn’t match.

Withersdane was a University campus, it has 330 beds and 23 acres. We only use a fraction of this at the moment but it is nice to know we have room to grow. We take our influence from being a University site and pretty much see our treatment as being like a university level education. At University the students are given responsibility and ideas are shared with them, they are invited to find the best and most original ideas that work for them. We are the same in that I don’t impose a treatment method on our clients. When I got clean the only method of recovery was 12 step but there are many other ideas that have evolved since then, including SMART recovery. It’s the same for depression and anxiety and all mental health issues. The state of the art is evolving and I want to share all of these ideas with our clients and help them find the ones that work best for them as individuals. Clearly there are some ideas that are more popular than others but if you let clients find what works for them as individuals rather than spoon feeding them one method, they will be much more committed to recovery. We need to get away from the idea that it is clinics that stop people using. The greatest bastions of control and punishment are Prisons, and they have an abysmal record of getting people clean. The truth is that if someone is clean and sober in any clinic, then this is entirely down to their decision to be clean, and not because we are controlling them. The more we can respect our clients and honour their choice, the stronger their real commitment to recover will be and genuine recovery will blossom. I think this is why we have a reputation for being better able to manage more complicated clinical work.

We are situated in such a lovely setting with the South Downs all around us, and the local village are really supportive of what we are doing. I have know local communities rise up in arms against clinics but the locals to us virtually petitioned to allow us! We really are blessed with where we are and yet, we are only 40 minutes by high speed train from the centre of London so travel is easy for us.

If you work in this field and would like to pay us a visit we should love to show you around so please just get in touch.




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