Why It’s Wise to Unplug From Time to Time

Let’s unplug so we can plug in.


The current generation of kids has been raised on Internet memes and media sensations, and they have learned to communicate via social media and texting. This makes them tech savvy, but it also makes them disconnected.  Every day that I pick three young teens up from school, I notice that the first thing they do is jump onto their phones to check their Instagram accounts.  Social media has become THE way to communicate with one another, and sites like Instagram, Vine and YouTube have opened up the world of media consumption.

As we have become more plugged in and more connected, we have ironically become disconnected. Text messaging has become a primary means of communication for many, because it’s fast, convenient, and it takes away the discomfort of confrontation. It’s become commonplace to break up with someone via text, or to ask someone out. Bad news is more often than not shared via texting or social media. I, myself, have found out about a death in the family via text, and there is something deeply impersonal and haunting receiving such a weighted message digitally. While social media is convenient, it places a keyboard and/or screen between you and the person you are attempting to communicate with. It’s easy to “unfriend” someone on Facebook or “unfollow” someone on Instagram—often times, the person in question has no idea of the “unfriending” and won’t for a while! This is surely much easier than letting someone know you are unhappy with the way your relationship has devolved.

What baffles me the most is seeing groups of kids having “conversations” but never once making eye contact with each other. Even in my car after school, the kids will talk, but all of them are ensconced in their phones.

NPR recently reported on a UCLA study that investigated the effects of screen use in 6th graders. Their findings were that kids who spend 5 days in a media free zone (aka camp), had more positive interactions with their peers, and a marked improvement in their ability to read social cues in people’s faces. I would agree that the removal of digital screens does improve social interactions and it also creates a more stable community. At Visions, we don’t allow phones in residential treatment, and as a result, a community develops. Even in our Intensive Outpatient Programs and Day School, screen time is limited — and earned.

In recovery, community is foundational. Reaching our hands out and introducing ourselves helps us stay accountable, and it lets others know we are present and part of the same thing. So perhaps we can let our screens go dark for a spell and reconnect with our communities. Make an effort to unplug and spend some quality time with your family, your community and even yourself. Check out the sky, or the clouds, walk on the beach, feel the sand in your toes and the air against your skin. It’s enlivening to do things like this and it’s innately grounding to connect with the earth, yourself and those around you. Unplugging is good for you, the community, and your recovery.

Alumni Events Recovery School Service

Visions Cultivates Community

Walking into our Day School is emblematic of the cultivation of community. The kids are in support of each other, bonded by difficulty and a desire to change, and they are aptly supported by a team of a deeply compassionate clinical and support staff. On a given day, you may encounter laughter, tears, struggle, and frustration, joy, triumph, and accomplishment. And regardless of which of those experiences is present, they are held in a safe container of support; a container which is ultimately community.


A fear that is often present for teens in treatment is the suggestion that their peer group will need to change.  In a successful environment of recovery, that peer group does need to change. However, part of the recovery process includes the cultivation of a healthier, more supportive community of peers–a community that is desirous of shifting the old paradigm to one that is conducive to the mental health and stability they seek.


I asked Joseph Rogers, MDiv Canditate and teacher at Visions for 5 ways in which Visions helps teens cultivate community:


1: Engaging in social activities together. Visions supports weekly sober fun activities and recovery fun groups. Clients in our extended care have regular weekend activities such as paintball, beach trips, gardening, hiking, et cetera.


2: Having a spiritual support community such as Young People’s AA, where the young people are in charge of their own groups. This creates a sense of empowerment and encourages healthy independence.


3: Allow the clients to support one another. When a client asks if they can check in with another client, we almost never say no. It’s important that the clients see each other as a support system, especially post treatment.


4: Alumni activities. Keep our former clients in contact with each other and remind them of the support system they have in place. Our annual Alumni Weekend is a prime example of this. Additionally, all alumni are encouraged to come to the Friday night recovery meeting.


5:  Visions encourages alumni to sponsor current clients and to come back to work at Visions as employees. This way, clients can see the full cycle of recovery.

We are looking forward to seeing alumni and current clients and their families at the upcoming Alumni Weekend.  This community is at the core of what we do, and supporting families in their recovery is our heart.  It is always a joy to see our alumni thriving in their recovery and reconnecting with them.


The Tween Years: Visions Adolescent Treatment is 12!

Visions Adolescent Treatment just celebrated its 12th birthday and we entered our tweens with a bang!  So much has happened in the last 12 years of providing exemplary care for teens and their families, we really wanted to celebrate. Since our beginning in 2002, Visions has expanded our programs to include:


NeXT Extended Care Program. Located in Santa Monica, NeXT is a gender specific program for individuals ages 15-18 years old. At NeXt, teens work in conjunction with therapists and receive therapeutic services as well as support in outside educational environments.


LAUNCH, our outpatient lifestyles program for young adults, which focuses on teaching young adults necessary life skills as they enter adulthood, i.e., vocational, educational and social needs all under the supervision and encouragement of a therapeutic staff.


And over the last 18 months, our entire staff, starting from the top down, has been educated in DBT and is now DBT informed.


Visions has a lot to celebrate and an incredible community to celebrate with and we are extremely grateful. We had a packed house at the Victorian in Santa Monica, which included recovery professionals from all over Los Angeles and Orange County.  There was an amazing tower of cronuts from Nobelle Cakes  that were divine!


In addition to the wonderful company and food, Terra Hollbrook, MSW, LCSW, CADC, did a fantastic presentation during lunch, talking about our Three-Day Family Intensive program, which launches in June. Terra spoke about the importance of treating the entire family, which includes looking at the varying degrees of codependence and trauma within the family root system.


While we have a lot to be proud of, we still maintain our foundation of being a founder driven, family oriented company. We are a team, plain and simple, and we nourish and care for our families as well as our staff. We are always seeking ways in which to broaden our horizons in order to maintain a clinical culture of excellence. Visions Adolescent Treatment is excited to continue to grow and continue to provide families with well-rounded and compassionate treatment. Onward to lucky 13! Thank you all for celebrating with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Check out the gallery of pics from the event! [slideshow id=7]


Adolescence Alumni Events Recovery

The Annual Alumni Ski Trip! It’s Finally Here!

This is it: time for our annual Alumni Big Bear Ski trip,

Ski Bear Mountain (Photo credit: miheco)

and we are over the moon! It’s one of the favorite alumni events of the year, and the fact that 6 more weeks of winter have been predicted (thanks, Punxsutawney Phil!), and the fact that snow is falling, we are raring to go.


It’s always an adventure complete with community building activities, epic goofiness, 12-step meetings, fellowship, and a burrito-eating contest. Yes, you read that last part correctly. There’s a place in Big Bear that sells something called the “Big Juan” burrito. It’s a 4-pound burrito and if you can eat it in 45 minutes, you win a T-shirt. There is always someone willing, no matter the warnings of sickness and overwhelm.  It must be some T-shirt! We’ll post pics if someone dares to take this challenge.


The best part of this trip is the alumni community. Alumni are given the opportunity to reconnect with one another, bond and share stories of recovery, downfalls, and encouragement. Some come just for that, even though they don’t ski or snowboard. In fact, there has been many a time where alumni have helped each other out on the slopes, guiding each other down their first hill or their 100th.  Team work, fellowship, goofiness, laughter, hot cocoa, marshmallows, and the inevitable teen prank: It’s all worth every moment.