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In 2012, after many years of working in the field of mental health and addiction, Whitney Post and her husband Brian Richmeier opened Whitian House, an outpatient treatment facility located just outside of Denver, CO which offers group therapy and one on one counseling sessions designed to meet the therapeutic needs of people in the community dealing with substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Most clients enrolled in Whitian House have been referred by the court system but many stay beyond the required timeframe: “I still attend because I want to,” was reported by more than one alum. Whitian House serves a diverse population, gay, straight, all races, young and old. There are those who are fresh out of prison or drug court or halfway houses and still others arriving from detox. Some clients, like this one, enroll long after they have stopped using: “I came to Whitian House with 10 years sobriety, I needed their groups for daily living and for relapse prevention.”
While they encourage clients to attend outside 12-step programs for support, Whitian House is not a 12-step based program. Treatment includes holistic and clinical approaches such as Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, an intensive cognitive therapy designed to help subjects change patterns of thinking and behavior which cause problems in their life. One patient describes their experience as “learning new skills for coping, inner strength, and self esteem.” The number and type of groups attended per week varies from client to client depending on need as well as circumstances, with some attending only one session per month and others attending four or more sessions per week. Many clients begin their process with a pretty full schedule then gradually reduce the number of sessions they attend as they reintegrate into society. One cool thing that Whitian House does is to allow clients who have completed a class to return at any time and sit in, sort of as a refresher. In addition to classes such as Strategies for Self-Improvement and Change and Anger Management, Whitian House also offers gender-specific groups focusing on parenting and on domestic violence. Whether a patient is struggling with addiction or mental health issues or both, they find themselves in an environment where they feel safe and cared for, as expressed by this former client: “I have P.T.S.D. and don't deal with people too good. When I walked into Whitian house, I felt relaxed. Whitney offers alternatives or a different view on things.”
Groups, limited to 12 people, follow a routine. Participants begin by checking in, letting the rest of the group know how their recovery is going. This is often followed by a mindfulness practice (learning about and practicing mindfulness is an integral part of treatment at Whitian House) and then it is on to the lesson. Depending on the class, there may be homework involved and while it is a compassionate environment, personal accountability is emphasized and patients are to be respectful, sober and on time: "If someone were to show up to group under the influence they would be asked to leave. If someone relapses we are asked/required to talk about when, where, why, and how. Accountability is everything here! The group would then have time to talk about how they feel about what someone has done and give advice and an helpful hand/words of advice on how they can handle this situation in the future if it were to happen again"
There is a very close relationship between counselors at Whitian House and the clients they treat. This is by design and is part of the treatment plan. Clients are more willing to do the necessary inner work when they feel that staff are as invested in the process as they themselves are, as described by this woman: “Throughout the past 14 years of my life I have had 9 therapists and 3 psychologists. I have NEVER been able to connect with someone or relate to someone like I have been able to with Whitian house... They have given me a new life...and more love and forgiveness then I would have ever thought I deserved.”
While there is no emphasis on any particular religious belief, clients are encouraged to share their personal beliefs (or lack thereof) and are not judged; and while belief in a higher power is recommended, patients are also taught to find community support as well as power within. As one puts it, “I have learned that I can move forward in life with the strength I already have and make a better life with the skills I have learned.” Another offers this colorful insight, “I got to do it myself with encouraging words backing me up rather than getting my ass kicked on the street.”
Many Whitian House clients, present and former, credit WH with the positive change in their life: “I'm still in treatment. But even if it's only been for the past 3 months, I barely recognize myself.” Clients give a tremendous amount of credit to Founder and Clinical Director Whitney Post. Whitney is not only seen as an expert (she has a lot of letters after her name) but, as one client describes, “a ‘for real’ person.” She and her staff do more than teach; they inspire patients, such as this one, to grow: “Whitney’s constant ability to see the positive…push[es] the people toward a life without using and holding one’s self accountable.”
If you are looking for a loving and nurturing outpatient program which still emphasizes accountability, Whitian House may be the place for you. Almost unanimously, clients credit Whitian House with improving their lives in significant ways: "I have personally learned to love myself again and realize that I can be one with this life. I have learned that I can move forward in life with the strength I already have and make a better life with the skills I have learned over the years as long as I use them for "good" and not for "bad". Whitian house has made me so comfortable to be myself in my recovery. This is something I've never had before."