December 22, 2017
Ryan Bathgate has a diploma as a professional counsellor and a certificate as an addictions worker. But his most important training is that he spent a lifetime affected by addiction. “It’s been such a blessing for me to work here,” he says with reflection. “I have a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity Phoenix has given me.”
Ryan’s passion for helping people and his training as a counsellor has made him an especially caring and effective member of the Supportive Transitional Living in Recovery (STLR) program. This is a safe space for men 19 years and older who are moving through a 90-day recovery program.
The men who come to STLR, Ryan says, get to participate in a strengths-based model. “When someone comes here they already exhibit so many assets that we’re just shining a light on them. If they come in very guarded — as some do — it implies that they care deeply about something.
“There’s a role for the protector that doesn’t have to be detrimental,” Ryan adds
Phoenix is a place of welcome. “We want to take them from what’s wrong to what’s strong,” Ryan says, adding that “connection” is the opposite of addiction. “Safety provides more opportunity for authentic human connection in the moment.”
Before his previous job, Ryan was a counsellor for Phoenix’s STAR program. He found the work rewarding and established many positive relationships. He also believes that relationship is at the foundation of the healing process.
He recalls, in particular, one client who arrived in a great deal of distress. But after developing his own emotional intelligence and building a stronger sense of self in the world he is now enrolled in school and pursuing a new career — something he’d never foreseen or even imagined possible.
Ryan is glad to have moved on to become a STLR counsellor, which he had always viewed as part of his personal career goal. “My style is very philosophical and existential,” Ryan says. “We develop a camaraderie here, and the currency is love and respect.
“I like to think of us as a tribe,” he says. “The goal of a peaceful existence is our fire in the middle of the room.”