Since 2009, thanks to the efforts of LAPD volunteer, Sgt. Larry Martinez, Phoenix House Academy in Los Angeles has benefited from monthly Brief Intervention Workshops for teens enrolled in residential treatment and involved with the juvenile justice system. The groups, called “Speak Up!,” bring teens together with LAPD officers for open, frank discussion and engaging role-reversal skits (where the police play the roles of teens and teens pretend to be policemen). The workshops are designed to improve the teens’ knowledge of laws relating to their behaviors (partying, driving, using drugs, etc.) and to enhance communication and relationships between them and the police. The ongoing success of these groups should be credited to the enthusiasm and knowledge of Sgt. Martinez and the support of his LAPD colleagues (depicted, on September 7: LAPD officers Adriana Mungia, Rich Wall, Larry Martinez, and Denise Estrada). As Sgt. Martinez explains: “I rotate different officers so they can hear the clients and be able to give their input. In the past, I have had officers from various agencies join me and give their input from their agency’s perspective.”
In 2015, the workshops were expanded by adding special sessions for parents, “Parents as Treatment Partners,” held in the evenings and featuring similar material, explaining laws and regulations, and providing a forum to discuss issues. Sgt. Martinez added: “The parents have been so thankful to be able to ask specific questions regarding the law and questions on how law enforcement does their job. It’s been a great success too. I have recently been updating my presentations to cover current events regarding police shootings and role playing on how to conduct yourself during traffic stops.”
Thanks to a grant from a private foundation, Phoenix House has been able to purchase much needed digital translation equipment used by the agency’s interpreters to simultaneously translate the proceedings into Spanish for mono-lingual parents, and avoid interrupting the flow of the groups. Theresa Delgado and Bertha Loya, Spanish-Language Interpreters, alternate in supporting these groups that serve more than a hundred families each year. Ms. Delgado said: “It is great to have these workshops for the family and even better to have this new equipment. Now, thanks to the generous grant, families of our clients can focus on learning new communication skills and assimilating new information, instead of dealing with interruptions.”
From decades of experience working with high-risk teens, we understand how important family involvement and proper communication is for success after leaving treatment. This is why we offer a variety of support groups to the parents of our teens, teaching them better communication and active listening skills, dispelling myths, and improving relationships in the community. If you or your loved one 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.