Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
Veterans Helping Veterans on the Path of Recovery
The Providence VA Medical Center's Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) is an outpatient, multidisciplinary recovery program that provides mental health services for Veterans who are focused on rebuilding their lives and expanding their social support systems. Veterans are referred to the PRRC after receiving an initial mental health evaluation by a VA behavioral health provider. The PRRC implements a recovery model to help Veterans recover from their illness so they are able to become fully-functioning members of their communities. Veterans involved in the PRRC receive individual assessment and curriculum planning, skills training, symptom management classes, and family educational programs. A key component is peer support--Veterans helping Veterans.
Veteran/Volunteer Bob Goudreau sat down with licensed social worker Stacy Souza, acting program director, to better understand some of the services available. As overall program manager, Stacy is also in charge of the Incentive Work Therapy (IWT) program in which a Veteran is given a small stipend for work around the VA hospital to help them regain positive work habits and to help provide for their personal needs.
Another member of the PRRC team is licensed social worker Denise Fragoza. Denise describes her approach to recovery as “holistic,” meaning there are many pathways to recovery. As part of her responsibilities at the PRRC, Denise provides an array of recovery-orientated psychotherapeutic groups to include symptom management, maintaining wellness, expressive arts, and community integration workshops. Her students' artwork is on display throughout the PRRC, and her photography students' pictures adorn the waiting area on 3B. She also conducts Vet2Vet Facilitator work shops since we began the transition to a recovery-oriented model of care. In fact, Denise just recently conducted her sixth Vet2Vet facilitator training program. With co-facilitator/Veteran Melodie Mathews (A recent graduate of facilitator training), she provides a weekly PTSD support group in building 14. Ms. Mathews has gone on to initiate Vet N Pets, a 12-week program which emphasizes how important animals can be during the long road to recovery. By caring for them and receiving unconditional love, we can restore our sense of trust.
Peter Gauthier is an integral part of the PRRC team. A licensed occupational therapist, Peter leads classes on stress reduction and symptom management. He facilitates a group for Veterans dealing with grief and loss while also offering instruction on the Wellness Recovery Action Program (WRAP), with emphasis on community reintegration. Peter was instrumental in developng the facility's horticulture program.
The programs and services mentioned above are just the "tip of the iceberg." Check with your VA Primary Care Provider to see if you qualify for a referral. This program has assisted many Veterans in leading healthy and productive lives with their loved ones, families, and in their own communities. It is also another example of Veterans helping Veterans on the path to recovery.