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Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services


Guide to Providing Values-Based Support

6 Core Values

Almost every organization nowadays has a set of values. Sometimes these values make their way to posters, mugs, and staff emails. But our values have to be more than slogans; they must show up in our day-to-day work, grounding our choices and approaches to supporting our members. So it’s important that we think of our values not as ends in themselves but as the footing or foundation for our words, actions and interactions with JOH members and with one another.

The six core values are:

  1. Individualized treatment
  2. Community integration
  3. Skill building
  4. Peer culture
  5. Collaborative practices and transparency
  6. Healing-centered engagement

Putting these values into practice every day is what creates our JOH culture and sets us apart from other treatment programs. So, it’s essential to not only name these values, but to internalize them.

Because JOH is genuinely different from other programs, don’t be surprised if you don’t find your footing in all of these values right away. Keep practicing them, let them guide your decisions, and soon they’ll feel natural.

Practicing values can be hard. When you’ve had to make a difficult decision in favor of a core value, acknowledge the strength it takes to do so. Life being what it is, sometimes we may do or see something that conflicts with core values, and core values may conflict with one another in certain situations. Practicing values is not always clear cut. So, keep the values discussion alive among your colleagues, members and DBHIDS.

Prefer to listen rather than to read about the 6 core values? Click on the video below.

1. Individualized Treatment

The first core value is individualized treatment.

As people with lived experience and with work experience in the behavioral health field, we recognize that recovery is a unique experience for everyone, and we value individualized treatment as the most respectful and effective way to work with members along their recovery journey.

But what does this mean in practice? Well, on a basic level, providing individualized treatment requires taking the time to truly get to know a member on a personal level. It means we can sese their unique blend of strengths, skills, challenges, beliefs, complexities, and contradictions. Getting to know another human being is one of the most difficult things we can do. It takes time; it can’t be rushed, and given that all of us are always changing, we know that we’ll never be done getting to know someone.

On a more technical level, valuing individualized treatment means that treatment plans must be developed in partnership with the member, not apart from them or for them. The plans have to reflect the person’s humanity, not their substance use disorder or other behavioral health condition. In other words, the treatment plan should reflect the aspirations, priorities, and pace of change each member defines for themselves. If the only way you know a treatment plan belongs to a particular member is by reading the name, then likely the plan is not truly individualized.

Individualized treatment will also be observable to others, because what one member does to pursue goals and wellness will be different from what another member does, even if their goals are the same.

When supporting individuals, we may be able to reach for a familiar tool to assist them, or we may have to try something different. So, individualize treatment also takes our work out of a familiar routine and into what may be more uncertain – but more creative – approach.

So with individualized care, it’s critical to understand how each members sees themselves, their life, and their path so that each person feels they have a way forward that they create and that is tailored specifically to them.

When we’ve found our footing in this value, we become comfortable getting to know members deeply and are open to the possibility of seeing the world through their eyes. We become advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, whole-person care, creativity, and innovation.

2. Community Integration

The second core value is community integration. This value acknowledges that health and wellness mean much more than ending substance use and sleeping indoors. The value of community integration motivates us to help members envision a fulfilling life for themselves, expand their social connections, and participate fully in their communities of choice.

Many members join JOH with lengthy histories of homelessness, perhaps disconnected from the people and places they love. Applying the value of community integration means intentionally working with members to create or rebuild healthy social and support networks, use community serves, access public resources, and freely pursue their interests.

Unlike traditional approaches to treatment that separates individuals from outside influences that may be viewed as threatening, we involve family members, allies, or any other people the member wants to work with.

This can be a hard value to practice when some family or friends do not seem to be as helpful to the member as we would hope. But we need to help individuals work in the communities they chose.

We also encourage people to practice skills in the real world, so JOH members have a level of freedom that is greater than many other providers are comfortable with. But if we practice this value throughout, we prepare members to live successfully and confidently once they leave the treatment setting.

When we are grounded in this value, we begin early on to support the member in reintegrating into the community to achieve the life they want for themselves. We are driven by the understanding that treatment and housing linkages are JOH Project services; they are not the ultimate goals for any member. Guided by the value of community integration, we learn why a member wants to recover and what motivates each member to pursue recovery. What does the member want for their life? Those are the goals we work with.

3. Skill Building

The third core JOH Project value is skill building. Adult living skills, healthy communication, healthy coping, setting boundaries, asking for support – these are just a few of the skills that will make it possible for our members to sustain their health and wellness after they leave the residential program. It’s not enough to simply “walk beside” a person or be their personal cheerleader. To value skill building means we intentionally increase each member’s capacity to succeed in ways that matter to them.

To practice this value, we focus again on each individual, learning what they feel would help them achieve the life they are working toward. We offer members opportunities to learn and practice skills using a variety of methods and different environments. We encourage members to develop skills by practicing them a lot, and through trial-and-error learning. Like all of us, JOH members have a right to make mistakes, to learn from them, and to pivot toward something better. All interactions present opportunities to build skills.

Skill building is a defining JOH value because we commit to equipping members with the skills to do more than refuse substance use. From a clinical perspective, many members may never have learned how to get their needs met in healthy or effective ways, so expanding their skill sets is an important way to support SUD treatment and protect recovery. From a human perspective, skill building reflects our belief that members deserve to live their lives to the fullest, where and how they choose.

When we’re comfortable win this value, we’ll ensure members have opportunities to learn skills that they believe will improve their lives. We will be able to convey in treatment reports the relevance of building even small habitation skills – such as learning to sleep in a bed – as a way to support long-term positive outcomes.

4. Peer Culture

Peer culture is the fourth JOH Project core value. Peer culture refers to the sense of belonging, purpose, connection, and hope that people who have experienced shared adversities can offer one another. At JOH, we want this culture to be nurtured and celebrated in every program so that staff and members alike are continually reminded that members can’t be defined by their behavioral health conditions.

Bringing the value of peer culture to life means ensuring that current and past members have opportunities to connect with and support one another, to apply their skills and learn new ones, to contribute to their programs in meaningful ways, and to engage their communities. This could be through peer-led groups, peer advisory councils, opportunities for members to engage with and improve their communities, activism, storytelling, alumni networks, and countless other ways.

When we have found our footing in this value, we’ll recognize that there is no clinical substitute for peers supporting peers. We’ll actively try to detect stigmatizing beliefs and behaviors in ourselves, our programs, and our communities, and we’ll work to ensure members are regarded as equal partners in their recovery and as valued contributors to the JOH Project whose concerns and ideas are genuinely heard.

5. Collaborative Practices and Transparency

This fifth JOH value is about improving services and the work environment and conducting our business with fairness and respect for the dignity of DBHIDS staff, JOH staff, and members.

In practice, this value means we’ll take an inclusive approach to decision-making, keeping people informed about the status of matters that concern them, and safeguarding the well-being of the JOH community. It means that staff and members will share an understanding of expectations, that respectful processes will be followed to resolve differences, voices will be heard, and no consequences will come as a surprise. Following the best practices for dealing with a member’s new substance use is one example.

This value in action means that collaboration will not only program staff and members, but also DBHIDS and external partners, such as case managers. Because many agencies are not defined by this value, it can be challenging to bring others together to work with the team in a partnership of mutual responsibility and accountability.

When we’re grounded in this value, we’ll promote shared decision-making. We will ensure that processes are fair and that people are heard. We’ll follow processes and procedures as a way to show regard for our colleagues and members, and we’ll remain open to changing processes and practices that need improvement. We’ll expect collaboration and think in advance about ways to include the voices of members and others affected by rules, practices, and processes.

6. Healing-centered Engagement

The sixth and final core value of the JOH project is healing-centered engagement. We hold this value for its role in supporting holistic healing, peace of mind, acceptance, and sense of security and community for members. As with trauma-informed care, we approach all individuals with compassion and acceptance, knowing that they may never disclose trauma or the extent of their trauma.

We see a clinical role in working with individuals to heal their trauma. But healing-centered engagement goes further. Healing centered engagement views trauma as not only a personal experience, but frequently as a collective experience that can’t be addressed by focusing on the individual’s experience along. Healing-centered engagement supports other JOH values in its insistence that the person’s story is more than just a tragedy, that a strengths-based approach facilitates  healing, and that community plays a central role in healing.

When we are comfortable with this value, we’ll commit to ensuring that members feel safe in our programs. We will acknowledge that healing takes time and looks different for everyone, and we’ll protect the member’s right to direct their own healing process. We’ll acknowledge the collective trauma experienced by members and allow opportunities for members to restore their sense of self and wellness.

Published 2020

Program Manager: Deanna.Fasano@phila.gov

Program Supervisor: Tina.Newstead@phila.gov