Director of Admissions Sockie Averilla (left) and VP for Finance & Administration Virgie David happily update the entries on the admissions board.

Director of Admissions Sockie Averilla (left) and VP for Finance & Administration Virgie David happily update the entries on the admissions board.

FOR several years now SELF has been satisfied, even happy, with one or two admissions every month. This has given rise to a continuing challenge to provide high quality service within a really tight budget.
Well, since the second half of 2009 and continuing into 2010 SELF has finally experienced a turnaround. Admissions have flown off the charts and we have surpassed all our targets. The phones have not stopped ringing as inquiries about our treatment program have been coming in at a rate we have never experienced before.This sudden surge of calls, many of which have resulted in admissions, is a phenomenon we cannot explain and has caught the Foundation off guard. Taal View House has run out of unused bed capacity and we now have to build more dormitories. It’s a welcome development but nevertheless a stressful challenge.
At this point it is proper to acknowledge SELF’s Director of Admissions, Sockie Averilla, who was first to rise to the challenge as she tirelessly attended to the inquiries, providing them much needed counseling in their most trying moments, and helping them get their loved ones into recovery.

New Buildings

As early as March 2010 plans to increase bed capacity and office space had been made.
The first was a Female Reentry & Aftercare dormitory to accommodate the growing female population. Thanks to the recently concluded golf tournament fund raiser, this project was completed in June.
The second, a 60 sqm pavilion that will serve as the future Audio Visual Room (AVR), is currently being built.
The third project involves converting the existing female dormitory wing that currently houses the AVR into a two-storey edifice to further increase bed capacity. Due to its high cost, however, this has been put off until more funds are realized.

Marketing Efforts

As a private, non-profit foundation that receives no financial support from the government, SELF operates much like a hospital and survives on the funds raised from treatment fees to sustain its operations. To make facility improvements, it depends on annual fund raising events. Thus, the continuing increase in admissions is a welcome development.
What brought about this sea change? Well, apart from constant prayer, we did exert effort to improve SELF’s general visibility in the past years. Like any organization, we are concerned with being visible to the public, both nationally and internationally.
But how does one market an endeavor like drug rehabilitation? We have tried all sorts of marketing approaches in the past, including posters and ads in broadsheets. We even sought the advice of professionals who drew up media plans for our organization but for some reason they have all failed to deliver on our expectations.

Quality Comes First

In the mean time, we kept our focus on continuously developing our best practices. We have professionalized our treatment approaches to meet the demands of the changing times and concentrated on sustaining the core values of the organization. Whether we were doing financially well or not, we delivered our services to the best of our abilities, never compromising quality. Through the difficult times, we kept our faith and trusted that our efforts would pay off in due time.

Increased Internet Visibility

But there was one thing we have ignored for many years and that was our website. In 2008 we reconstructed our site, gave it a totally new look, and increased the information offered. This included the entire story of my drug addiction and recovery, in which I shared all my personal struggles and those of the SELF organization.
Last February 20 the Media Team once again ran a website write shop at the office, this time including not only officers and staff but other key players like graduates and FAM members.
We divided the tasks such that some participants undertook a photo review and archive selection while others focused on research and content editing. Our webmaster was on the floor and uploaded the new data as they were completed.
Apart from remodeling the Photo Gallery, we reached out further by entrusting our success stories to the viewing public. In a blog I featured my lecture papers drawn from my extensive years of developing the SELF TC and Family Programs.
For more than eight hours, everyone put out their best with hopes that we would increase the informative value of the SELF website. Since March the upgraded site has been up and running and, yes, delivering the goods! Visit www.selfoundation.com.
With the improved ALEXA and Google rating of our site we have continued to receive an increased number of inquiries from interested visitors. For this, we commend the painstaking work and dedication of our webmaster, Media Head Kit Molina.

TC Convention

The SELF Family greeted 2010 with an attitude of optimism. To prevent the crash that is usually experienced by residents after the Yuletide festivities, we planned an activity that would instead get everyone focused on making improvements in TC. Moreover, this directly addressed the pressure exerted on the program by the burgeoning resident population.
On January 6 we ran a Rules and Systems Workshop aptly themed, Innovating Systems to Keep the SELF TC Alive. That morning the entire Family including directors and staff gathered in the Sacred Heart Auditorium (SHA) to challenge current systems and policies.
I began with a presentation of our 2009 Performance Overview and pointed out a few of the targets we set for 2010. Then the Rules of Engagement were laid out.
The process was to be conducted in Parliamentary style with the staff having equal voting rights as residents in the Senior and Reentry phases. Those in the Junior phase could join the discussions but would not be allowed to vote. Those undergoing Reflection could only listen.
Everyone was also reminded that all policies adopted would have to conform with SELF’s basic threefold principle: any and all modifications need to be 1) Respectful, 2) Logical, and 3) Practical.

Challenging Existing Practices

After the session was called to order, Phase I began with the following policies tabled for discussion: Walk Around Incentives, Occupational Therapy Activities, Personal Belongings, Sports Schedule, and Food Menu, to name a few.
In the afternoon, the family was divided into groups that would brainstorm on each assigned issue. Led by their respective proponents, each group was duly supported by staff members. The ultimate objective was to identify challenges and potential solutions and report them back to the plenary.
I encouraged everyone to think outside the box — to consider the possibility of changing the routines we had all been accustomed to while bearing in mind the growing population.
As the minutes turned into hours, thoughts were transformed into practicable changes that were presented to the plenary, discussed, and made part of the TC Rules and Regulations.
On January 13, after road testing the new policies and systems, the entire Family assembled again to examine the effect of the changes. Based on reports by the residents, some resolutions were modified and others remained unchanged.

Reinventing the Units

The second part of the symposium was dedicated to analyzing Unit operations. Attended this time by the major stakeholders of the community — i.e., coordinators, facilitators, and staff — workshops were once again conducted to improve systems.
The workshop results were consolidated the following day and presented in a plenary session. Innovations that passed muster were immediately implemented, starting with seminars and teaching sessions by senior officers. A reassignment of tasks complemented the new systems adopted.
As expected the introduction of new systems and procedures met with some resistance. Many of the staff were observed to be tentative about the changes. But when they were reminded of the importance of learning to embrace new experiences, they set aside their hesitations and gave their whole-hearted cooperation.
As the saying goes, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”

The SELF TC program is where it is today because we have made an effort to continuously evaluate and reform it.

The REBT Approach

So much for facilities and organizational improvements. It was time to address the rehab program so we reintroduced rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), an in-depth method of confrontation to help residents discover their faulty core beliefs that give rise to their deep-seated anger. This simple yet powerful probing technique has proven to be an effective tool in helping subjects carefully review their past and thereby lead them to understand their issues more clearly.
On April 22 I led the clinical staff in practicing REBT with some selected residents. They were paired in dyads and encouraged to use a set of guide questions as they took turns in confronting each other. Questions like, “Where do you think that feeling is coming from? What is the thinking that’s behind that feeling? Is that thinking rational? Having identified this thinking distortion, what are you going to do to dispute that thought?” echoed within the SHA where we held the training. We ended with a feedback process to elicit learning insights from the staff.
The results were gratifying. The staff were one in saying that experiencing actual implementation of REBT greatly increased their grasp of the method. The residents, on the other hand, said they discovered more about each other in those 15 minutes they shared than they ever did in their entire stay at SELF. They also claimed to have broken through barriers and help each other identify crucial points for resolution.

In Closing

Faced once more with challenges, albeit more agreeable ones, SELF acted swiftly, determining a plan of action and implementing the necessary changes. Indeed, across the years we have learned to transform problems into opportunities for growth. For this we thank God for continuously showering us with blessings that shore up our fortitude, courage, and determination. We also thank our family, friends, and supporters who have constantly stood with us and have served as bulwark and our strength.

Martin R. Infante
Founder & President