To cultivate a caring friendship, we have created a Friendship Practice. The goal of our Friendship Practice is to develop genuine bonds with persons who have experienced complex and sustained trauma. Our friendships exist on a three-level continuum:
- Level One are those clients that seek a relationship solely to receive services. All interactions revolve around ways we can benefit them.
- Level Two are those clients that seek a relationship for services as well as seek emotional support and companionship.
- Level Three clients are those that seek services as well as desire a reciprocal relationship of emotional support and companionship.
We currently have approximately 140 “friendships,” the majority of which are Level Two friendships. Friendships with persons that have experienced significant trauma require additional knowledge and skills not necessary for friendships with non-traumatized persons. As such, our staff receives training in trauma-informed care, Motivational Interviewing, Stages of Change, and SMART Recovery.
Creating a Friendship Practice is not enough. We also need to establish environments where these friendships can form and flourish. The medium by which we cultivate these friendships is food. Journalist and activist Michael Pollan writes, “The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” Eating with those we love is embedded in our cultural DNA. The power of meals is the reason we hold community events like our bi-monthly cookout, pizza with club staff, and late-night Waffle House runs with our coaching clients.