Harbor Village offers a variety to therapy options for its clients. Lead by Dr. Holly Vasquez-Cortella, the team of highly trained and compassionate therapists at Harbor Village Detox is dedicated to helping clients understand and address the underlying causes of their substance abuse disorder. Through guided exploration of one’s self and one’s behavioral tendencies, the therapists of Harbor Village work to initiate mental and emotional healing while equipping clients with healthy coping mechanism and tools for life beyond rehabilitation.
Elizabeth Kittay is a therapist at Harbor Village Detox. With a Masters Degree in Social Work from Barry University, Elizabeth is dedicated to serving those in need. After years serving victims of domestic violence, she decided to direct her efforts toward another traumatized population: those suffering the affects of drug and alcohol addiction. Elizabeth embodies the sincere desire to improve the lives of people in need in any way she can.
“I really am here to make that eeny, weeny bit of difference. That truly is a gratifying experience and I think that’s why we’re all here: we want to make a difference. My goal is to inspire people therapeutically so they continue treatment beyond Harbor Village- rather that is through support groups and therapy or an Intensive Outpatient Treatment program.”
Harbor Village provides two group dynamic therapy sessions a day during which the focus is initiating conversation. During these sessions clients are encouraged to speak about their struggles and experiences among peers that often have similar stories. This creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and non-judgement which allows clients reluctant in sharing to gain perspective and understanding through others.
In addition, Harbor Village offers gender based therapy sessions held in the afternoons. Elizabeth Kittay moderates the women’s session where she focuses on past experiences and possible childhood traumas. Kittay explains that often women suffering from drug dependency have experienced traumas in the past that contribute to their drug use. They are often the victims of domestic violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, or sexual assault. Through her past experience as a counselor for survivors of domestic violence, Elizabeth gained experience she applies to her clients at Harbor Village.
Between group therapy sessions, Elizabeth sees clients on an individual basis, which is her preferred method of work. “I love doing individual therapy sessions. Everyone has a story. I’m very client-centered and I can connect to just about anybody. My maternal instinct helps me to do my work.”
With individual sessions, therapists have the opportunity to focus on the individual needs of each client. During initial meetings with clients, Elizabeth Kittay supplies a journal which she asks clients to fill with five positive self-traits to reaffirm self-worth and strengthen often wounded self-esteems. Journals may also be used to record a trauma narrative- the written composition of traumatic events and negative thoughts. She explains that this is an effective cathartic treatment; by “getting it out of your head and onto the page” one can focus on the effects of these events rather than the anxiety and negative emotions these memories inspire.
Individual therapy has proven especially effective for Elizabeth’s clients as they use her journaling techniques and teachings to progress through their journey to recovery.
“There’s one young man who has severe PTSD. He has it from being deployed twice to Afghanistan. He was unmedicated and suffering by himself with flashbacks and night terrors. During his time here we got him on the right medication and through working with me he is in much better shape. He has fewer night terrors and flashbacks. He’s happier and hopeful; feels more in control. He told me that once he leaves here and goes back home he’s running to the VA to get himself a therapist, which I’m going to help him set up while he’s here to make sure he’s in the right hands. With my clients I want to make sure they’re inspired enough therapeutically that they keep going with treatment after they leave here.”
What advice does she have for people struggling to remain sober after exiting a rehabilitation program? Positivity, humor, and humility. She says that a well-developed sense of humor can serve as a great coping mechanism for those experiencing a low point in their recovery. Ensuring the people within one’s immediate circle are supportive and positive influences is also key to staying on track. Above all, she says to never hesitate to contact a sponsor or hotline as soon as cravings or urges begin; shame and pride too often lead to relapse.
Elizabeth goes on to say that one of her favorite aspects of working for Harbor Village is the team she works with- primarily Dr. Holly Vasquez-Cortella:
“I came here and met Dr. Holly and I thought she was amazing. You know, half the job is who you work for and when she interviewed me I thought ‘that’s who I’d like to work for.’ I think the entire team is fantastic. We’re all genuinely here to help. If we can inspire someone to change their lives, maybe they can help someone else. That’s why some of our staff started in this business to begin with: they had positive experiences of their own that stuck with them. Your biggest hope is to have people leave here and inspire others to seek help. A lot of these people know each other either from halfway houses or around on the streets. If we get enough positive stories coming from treatment centers, more people will take the chance and try to get help.”
What inspires Elizabeth to continue her work helping those in need?
“My favorite thing to hear people say is ‘I’m feeling much happier today than I did yesterday.’ “
The Harbor Village staff is dedicated to helping you heal wholly so that you may enjoy a fulfilling life of sobriety full of happiness, satisfaction, and gratification.
Elizabeth Kittay and other passionate and compassionate people are waiting to help you overcome your struggle with substance abuse. Call now to begin your journey to a happy, healthier, better tomorrow.
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