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MHAR therapist shares advice for those entering SUD field, hopes for Rogers

03/15/23 10:30:am

Kristen Lauder, therapist, Depression Recovery adolescent residential care in Brown Deer

Kristen Lauder.jpgI have been with Rogers since July 2022 and completed my MSW in December of 1999. I have an LCSW, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) certification, Colorpuncture certification (like acupuncture with color lights instead of needles), and school social worker license. My main area of focus has been in trauma, but recently substance use disorder has become my focus.

What would your advice be to someone considering entering the SUD field?
You are about to have the honor of meeting people of great strength and great courage. Many will be carrying immense pain and regret, shame and fear, grief and loss, and most importantly, they will also be carrying hope. Hope is the foundation of perseverance for all of us. Hope ignites our strength and reminds us that we still have value. We will see our patients repeatedly falling deep into the addiction and coming to us for refuge. Coming up for air and needing a safe space to breathe and to heal. Listen with empathy. Never give up hope. Notice thoughts of judgement and remember the heart of the human being in front of you.

What do you know now that you wish had known before entering the field?
Over 20 years ago, as I began this journey in the mental health field, there was a division between the treatment of addiction and mental health. One consequence was my lack of understanding regarding the brain and how it is affected by addiction. I know if I had that information to share with my youngest patients, it would have been a valuable tool – a necessary tool in supporting their shift away from self-blame, as they endured devastating life-altering events, resulting from parental substance use.

What is your philosophy toward substance use treatment?
We are all valuable. We have all taken wrong turns in life that have negatively impacted ourselves and even those we love. We are all still learning. After all, we’re only human. Substance use treatment needs to include elements of self-compassion, a space to process shame and trauma, and a promotion of self-love and acceptance in our entirety. We can validate the pain others experienced as a result of our actions while maintaining worth. My core is good – I have just lost my way.

A hope for the future at Rogers:
Children. All children are precious. It is easy to love them, have empathy for their suffering, and rage toward those who harm them. Every child deserves unconditional love, to be safe, and to feel safe. To protect, we want to blame. We want to rescue. The stigma for mothers and especially pregnant mothers with substance use disorders is immense. Just as we attack them, they are attacking themselves. With every invalidation, a greater divide is created between mother and child. Some of us might say, “Good. She shouldn’t be a mother anyway.” I challenge us to take these mothers under our wing and provide specialized care: treat the substance use, treat the shame, and build a trusting community. As the shame and isolation fall away, we will be lighting a pathway between the hearts of the mother and child.

For related news, please download the March edition of the Mental Health and Addiction Recovery newsletter.

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