The light of awareness

By Eileen P. Simbulan, RPm, ICAP II
Deputy Program Director

Wilma was admitted to SELF in January 2016 for behavioral problems, highlighted by a toxic same-sex relationship. Her spending habits were out of control and she had strained her relationship with family and friends alike over her girlfriend to breaking point. Underlying this situation, her father died while she was away from home and they had not been on good terms.


Wilma grew up with two siblings in their family home. It was mostly chaotic as there was a lot of quarreling, especially between her parents. She and her siblings would also get involved, sometimes resulting in her getting bruises. She began seeing the violence at home as a way of life and suppressed her feelings on the matter. Growing up, she smoked marijuana on two separate occasions to fit in and went on to try Ecstasy much later at the instance of her girlfriend.

Upon being brought to SELF, Wilma was very resistant. She felt she did not belong in a rehabilitation facility for drug addicts since she wasn’t one, and that she did not really have any problems. She chose not to share this with anyone and instead told herself she would finish the program with flying colors. She focused solely on her self and felt relief that she had found a refuge from her problems on the outside.

Early Process

Wilma had her Emotional Interview on February 9, 2016 and was given a Big Sister who helped her familiarize herself with the program. She initially displayed eagerness to learn the ropes of the program, actively participating in activities and developing good interpersonal relationships with her co-residents.

Within her first few months, she reported an incident which made her realize the need to work on personal boundaries and even became resident of the month. She rose to the rank of Head in the Chain of Command not long after.

During this entire period, she had been telling herself that she liked being in the facility, but she knew deep down that there was something missing. She suppressed her true feelings because she did not want others to see her weaknesses and her negative side.

She tried to be perfect to the point of fussing over mistakes and simple pull-ups. The only thing that mattered to her was how other people saw her, and she was constantly trying to please.

Wilma continued to go with the flow until she was confronted for crossing boundaries with a female co-resident, which led to her sitting in Reflection in June 2016.

92 Days in Reflection

Because of her arrogance and stubborn tendencies, Wilma found it difficult to admit her infractions of physical contact, entering into contract and lying — all of which were rooted in the unhealthy boundaries between her and the female co-resident she already had an issue with.

Confrontations were difficult because she was scared that the only person who she felt understood her would get mad at her.

She also had a hard time seeing her accountability because she had convinced herself she had done no wrong.

With that thought process, she played the victim card, trying to manipulate the Program into seeing that its view of her situation was one-sided. She tried everything to stand from Reflection.

However, despite many interventions including Encounter Group sessions between her and the co-resident, she remained defensive and refused to accept her faults.

All told, Wilma spent 92 days in Reflection during which she failed three panel assessments. She kept forcing her way into facing the community despite not being ready. This didn’t work as she continued refusing to face her real issues.

During this time, she had a second Family Dialogue to break the impasse. She received a Haircut from her own family through which she heard and felt the intensity of their hurt and anger toward her.

She broke down after the dialogue from the pain but acknowledged that they had stated facts.

During this dialogue her family told her they disagreed with giving her anti-depressants. They believed she did not need them and that her determination was enough if she really wanted to take responsibility for all her misbehaviors.

Breaking Point

Despite this powerful process, she again failed the panel assessment that followed. At this point, however, she began to realize that she hadn’t really grieved over her father’s passing. She began to allow herself to feel sad and face the fact that he was gone.

In her last panel assessment, it was decided that her depression had to be addressed as it was affecting her cognitive thinking. In lieu of medication, she was made to run every morning so that she would naturally produce endorphins.

Wilma didn’t like it at first, but she eventually decided to learn to help herself and ran 40 laps every morning before breakfast.

She also reflected on a question posed by her last panel during those runs and managed to arrive at honest answers. She arrived at that point where she was no longer in a hurry to rejoin the family or rush through her program.


In September 2016, she finally passed her third Emotional Interview. This time the panel saw genuine remorse. She soon won the trust of the community. More in touch with her feelings, she started to work hand in hand with her counselors to explore her intrapersonal conflicts.

Her recovery became quite steady after that, and she became a strong positive force in the community. She was entrusted with more and more responsibilities and stepped up to perform duties outside her scope of work.

She even joined the 8th Facilitator Training Course and earned the much coveted green FACI badge.

During her Reentry phase, when informed of her family’s plans to pull her out, she stood her ground and insisted on staying to finish her Program even if it meant paying for it herself.

Thus, it came as no surprise that for her Aftercare phase she chose to continue honing her skills by working in the Media department where she eventually rose to position of Coordinator.


Wilma is currently a resident-staff in SELF, giving back to the community and growing more independent by the day.

She has fully realized the value of the sacrifices her family made for her and is working toward strengthening their renewed relationship.

In the TC, there is an Unwritten Philosophy that goes, “To Be Aware Is To Be Alive.” For Wilma, finally becoming aware of her shortcomings, embracing her imperfections and acknowledging her accountability has brought her to the light of recovery.

By | 2018-04-02T11:51:33+08:00 April 2nd, 2018|Categories: Clinical Case Studies|0 Comments

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