I have been fortunate to be a part of Mariner’s Inn, Detroit, and doing my fieldwork studies for (Mental Health) MEH 144 Summer 2012. Since I started my internship at Mariner’s Inn on May, 14th, 2012, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined.
I am looking to complete my Associate Degree in Mental Health and graduate in June 2013. There is a great deal of emphasis placed on the addiction studies aspect of this coursework. Although, addiction studies is not the field of work I will be pursuing after I graduate, being able to work with that consumer based population has opened me up to a whole new perspective on life.
Mariner’s Inn focuses exclusively on the recovery of drug and alcohol addicted men. The men who come into this facility seeking treatment for their addictions are generally deeply immersed in the culture of addiction. I have seen first hand what addiction can do to the physical, moral and spiritual composition of a man. Many of these men have been stripped of their families, friends and jobs. Because of addictions, these men have lost their dignity. When men seek out help from Mariner’s Inn, they are usually never denied access to the help they need. Even if they trip up and fall off of the prescribed programs, they are given second chances and more. Mariner’s Inn is a center for the salvation of these men, both in the recovery of addiction and the restoration of their place in society. I have seen even the most downtrodden men come into this facility and find new strength and courage as they try and change their lives away from the behaviors that have hurt them.
My work as an intern at Mariner’s Inn has been guided by a wonderful man, Reverend Emanuel Taylor, B.A., M.S. I was assigned as an intern to Rev. Taylor and it really was a match made in heaven! Rev. Taylor is mind-mannered and soft spoken and I can see how he works with his consumers on his one-on-one counseling. Also, I have another intern who works with Rev. Taylor and his name is Josh. Josh will be getting his Masters Degree in Psychology. Josh has a whole different style in counseling and I have learned from this as well. Between my adviser and Josh, I have bolstered my abilities to dialogue and look deeper into behavioral issues that can affect us all.
Some of my duties at Mariner’s Inn include conducting group discussions on topics such as nutrition, current events, sexuality, etc. When it is my turn to hold a group session, I need to have prepared an interesting way to spend 45 minutes on whatever topic I have been assigned. Every man in the rehabilitation process is expected to participate in these group sessions. At the end of the session, they have to fill out a “didactic report” about what they have learned. I read the didactic and then sign their forms. At the end of the week, all the men who are in my adviser’s Primary Group give us their reports and I have to look them over and make sure all of the programs have been attended and commented on. Also, I sometimes oversee a “primary” group counseling session. This involves only the (up to) sixteen men that are specially assigned to my adviser. This is a much more intimate and personal setting and discussion. Men in “primary” share on a much deeper level. Other duties here at Mariner's are intake and assessments, and general clerical and cleaning duties!
The most challenging of my duties at Mariner’s Inn is being a part of the “Case Conference” process. A case conference is held when one of the consumers has broken a house rule and will now be faced with discipline or discharge. All of the counselors and some of the interns must face the consumer with the issues, listen to the consumers responses, and then decide whether to give the consumer a “second chance” or discharge them from Mariner’s Inn and send them to another facility. This is where a man’s future in recovery is held in the balance and we must decide what to do. I have yet to be able to reconcile my sympathy and empathy and I really hurt every time I am faced with making a decision.
In the 80 hours or so that I have spent as an intern at Mariner’s Inn I have genuinely fallen in love with some of the consumers. I have seen the ravages of addiction on men from all walks of life. I know it’s not possible, but I want to comfort them and save them all! And the most fulfilling part of this internship is being able to look beyond race or economic classes; everyone here is here for only one reason…that their lives have become unmanageable and they are turning themselves over to a power greater than themselves…
The one thing I look forward to more than anything is to see the kinship I have formed with our consumers and seeing their successes as time go on. Most of my guys only want a hug, or a smile or a kind word of encouragement…I can do that.