Annual Alumni Event and Stella Adler Studio Workshop at Phoenix House Academy, Los Angeles

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Jasmine, a Phoenix House alumna at the Annual Alumni Dinner, 2015An important aspect of substance abuse treatment is the focus on the positive and hope for the future.  Two events at the Phoenix House Academy, Los Angeles, perfectly illustrated this principle of “hope.” 

On June 2, 2015, several departments of the  Phoenix House Academy, Los Angeles collaborated to organize the Annual Alumni Dinner.  About 40 former clients came, some with their children and families, to celebrate their sobriety and their accomplishments after completing treatment between six months to eight years earlier. Phoenix House staff and a number of current clients participated in the dinner, catered by Stone Fire Grill, and listened to the six alumni speakers, each of whom described his or her stories of success in overcoming addiction and living in recovery.  You can read the harrowing story of one of the speakers, Jasmine, here.

Art work from the art therapy class at Phoenix House Los AngelesAnna Hollaender, Director of Family Services described the event as “very inspirational for alumni, current residents and staff, who all got to see the results that the Phoenix House Academy program brings., ” She added, “Long term recovery is possible, even at a young age. Having supportive and involved family and friends, even one person who cares, is essential on this journey. We are proud of our alumni who overcome challenges in their lives and have achieved so much.”  Residents who attended the dinner were selected as a reward for their progress in treatment, as well as for reaching academic and personal goals. Their artwork from the art therapy group was on display. Hope was present in the room, filled with laughter, camaraderie and many success stories.

Another lesson in “hope” came from the Stella Adler Studios Outreach Division. Their Los Angeles campus, the Art of Acting in Hollywood, offered acting and theater workshops to male and female residents at the Academy in Lake View Terrace. After working with teen boys on June 12, they presented a similar workshop to teen girls on June 19.

Visiting Artists from Stella Adler StudiosA group of 12 adolescents learned about controlling their bodies, voices, and abilities in a series of exercises and play-writing skits directed by visiting artists (Alicia Durufle, Susan PetchEam) and visiting artist partners (Tinkabell Lovelace, and Tommy Demenkoff, the Outreach Division Director).  They learned to express actions, emotions, and stories by using bodily gestures, positions, movement, facial expressions, and tone of voice.  They did some exercises in a big circle, i.e., passing a ball of “invisible energy” to each other; others while split into four groups.  Given a photograph as a prompt, the small groups wrote mini-plays that consisted of three elements: a description of what was seen, an emotional reaction to that scene or person, and an expression of hope for the future for the person or people portrayed in the photograph. Through their selection of photographs and the stories the young writers conceived, they expressed the workshop’s therapeutic purpose and the emphasized the values of individual expression and ideas.

Tommy Demenkoff at Phoenix House

Stella Adler Studio conducts similar outreach programs in other Phoenix House locations in the state of New York, as well as in public and alternative schools, community centers, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and correctional facilities in New York City, Los Angeles, and Vieques, Puerto Rico. Focus on the positive and individual creativity is an important aspect of the workshops that benefit clients and pull them out of their “cocoon” of isolation that drug use causes.


If you or your loved one – your son or daughter – need substance abuse treatment services, or help dealing with mental health issues by consulting with well-trained, experienced, dedicated and compassionate professionals, please do not hesitate to call us at: 1 888-671-9392.


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