While the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic thrust many people into using virtually technology, this online world was already a core part of Kimberly O’Connor professional life. As an addiction counsellor and professional hypnotist, she always worked in a virtual environment, providing one-on-one support online through her private practice. So when Kimberly joined Renascent’s Virtual Intensive Treatment Program (VITP) team in February 2022, she already had a strong track-record of fostering healing and community through virtual connections.
“I find there are real benefits to delivering treatment virtually. Primarily it allows me to remove some of the unnecessary sensory information that we pickup from being in a physical space, and I can focus instead on people’s facial movements and the sound of their voice. That gives us so much more information about what’s happening with a client, without the distractions,” shared Kimberly.
As part of Renascent’s VITP team, Kimberly is among other addictions counsellors that work with clients across Ontario who want to stop using drugs and alcohol. Through the part-time program, clients have more flexibility than inpatient addiction treatment programs. Clients can choose to attend either day-time or evening counselling sessions.
The team’s work covers four realms: building a sense of community through counsellor-led group sessions; psycho-educational workshops that guide clients through addiction and recovery education; one-on-one counselling to address individual needs; and case management which enables clients to access specific helpful resources.
Although for many clients this is the first time they are accessing programs and services online, they tend to find the virtual environment very enjoyable and therapeutic.
“I love the fact that people are naturally more connected in these spaces than they maybe expect to be,” says Kimberly. “Recovery is self directed and we go through this process to radically honour ourselves. There is something radically honouring about getting your favourite tea and slippers, and coming to this space of healing and guidance in your own comfortable environment.”
Since the program launched in 2020, it has been ramping up capacity to serve a growing number of people who are struggling with addiction. In May 2022, the government-funded program enrolled its 500th client.
“I commend anyone who has the courage to take a leap of faith into the unknown in pursuit of their highest path and purpose,” said Kimberly. “One thing I know about each person who enters the virtual space is that they have courage. I will continue to honour that courage, respect it and nurture it. We recover for ourselves but not by ourselves.”
Renascent’s government-funded Virtual Intensive Treatment Program includes six weeks of intensive treatment, followed by six months of Continuing Care and life-time access to our Alumni Program. Clients are also able to access our Family and Children’s Program to support the recovery of their loved ones.