September 15, 2017
Shannon Wilcox, a counsellor who started with Phoenix in March 2017, is excited to be working with Phoenix Society’s first women’s treatment program known as LUNAR.
LUNAR is an acronym that stands for Living United in Naturally-Assisted Recovery. For Shannon, helping women is something that is core to her heart. A lot of women with substance abuse issues have an extensive — and an unwelcome — background in trauma and grief. “This is trauma that they are having difficulty moving through,” she says. “As a result, they’ve turned to substances like drugs and alcohol.”
The LUNAR program helps women learn to manage their emotions and thoughts and supports their existing strengths so they can build healthier relationships. “We want them to feel heard and validated,” Shannon says. “We give them coping mechanisms in a group, and we make them aware of the outside resources they can use, as well.” Shannon appreciates that she had the opportunity to help design the program in concert with the society’s senior clinician and to evolve it based on resident feedback. Shannon has made an effort to involve art making into the therapeutic process and sees the positive impact it has on the women.
Shannon has had long exposure to people with addictions in some shape or form. Drug and alcohol addiction were present in her extended family and she could see the impact it had on her family through the generations. “Seeing that was one of the reasons for my coming into this field,” she says. “I wanted to help and to make a difference.”
Shannon received her BA, with a major in psychology, from the University of the Fraser Valley. Then, in 2015, she graduated with a Master’s in counselling psychology from the University of Victoria. She’s had a number of positions working with youth and women, mostly with mental health and addiction and has also worked for an Aboriginal healing program.
The LUNAR program uses an emotion-focused approach, non-violent communications and positive psychology aimed at helping people who are seeking safety. The women stay at Phoenix for approximately 90 days and begin planning their next steps and their transition back to society as they move through the program. They share rooms and have meals in the co-ed dining room. The program has the capacity to take up to 18 people, and the majority of referrals come from the Fraser Health Authority, although the beds are available for use province-wide and women can self-refer to the program.
Shannon has observed that having facilities for women in treatment is much needed and has been received warmly by women in transitional housing and by the men in treatment and transitional housing at Phoenix. The Phoenix community has really come together to support this new initiative.