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Monday, October 3, 2016
From all the news stories which appear on television, it is clear that the Philippines is indeed mired in a deep crisis—the growing drug menace and the reality of narco-politics. The current administration has taken initiatives to eradicate the drug problem by whichever way, and as a result, close to 600,000 individuals have surrendered to the authorities and admitted to being substance abusers. 

The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) estimates 1% to 10% of those who surrendered or roughly between 6,000 to 60,000 will be classified as “abusers” or dependents. The remaining 90% will be tagged as “experimenters”, “social recreational users”, or “habitual users” and would not need to be confined inside treatment facilities.

According to the DDB website, there are 41 inpatient facilities and 3 outpatient centers nationwide that are available where the surrenderees can undergo rehabilitation. The 10% can somehow be accommodated in the rehabilitation centers, but what about the 90%? Where will they go? Who will minister to them?

CFC has established CfC reform to address these questions.

CFC as a healing community
International Council member Michael Ariola explains how CFC ReForm came about. “As early as ten years ago, there have been several revelations from God about Couples for Christ being a healing and counseling ministry. These revelations came through elders in the community who have consistently sensed the Lord’s message on God’s plan to make ‘CFC a community where signs, wonders, miracles and healing of biblical magnitude may begin to take place’.” 

Recently, in seeming affirmation of CFC’s plan to help the government address the drug problem, Fr. Luciano Felloni, parish priest of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Novaliches, celebrated Mass for the Mission Core members of Metro Manila on the first sunday of september. In the prayer meeting that followed, Fr. Felloni shared that his parish has been made available for out-patient drug rehabilitation for those who have surrendered in their diocese. 

During a radio interview, Fr. Felloni said, “Bumuo kami ng community-based rehabilitation program. I contacted Couples for Christ at ang Family and Life Ministry ng parokya ko, kung saan ang CFC will focus on marriage at yung FLM will focus on parenting.” 

At around the same time, Jojo Apolo, a CFC leader from Indonesia, who is also a mentor of neuro-linguistic programming, designed a module for counselling of drug dependents and healing them of their addictions. After meeting with CFC elders, the program CFC ReForm: How to be an Amazing Counsellor for Drug Rehab was ready for implementation.

First batch of counselors trained
CFC leaders from Metro Manila, Laguna and Rizal were immediately mobilized and invited to participate in the weekend training from August 26 to 28, 2016 at the Parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Quezon City.

During the training and workshop, 50 participants learned about the ReForm framework, the basic processes and techniques for counselling, influencing and drug rehabilitation based on richard Gray’s Transforming Futures: The Brooklyn Program for the State Penitentiary of 2005.

In order to equip the would-be counsellors, Apolo employed the R.E.F.O.r.M. structure: Ready the team, Establish rapport, Form commitment, Overcome hurts and cravings, Renew direction, Move forward. 

Depending on the logical levels of change, Apolo said there are particular skills and processes that a counsellor can use in order to heal the addictions or negative anchors of an individual. The levels of change may be environmental, behavioral, influenced by one’s capabilities, values/ beliefs, identity and spirit. That is why it is important to know a person’s internal reality or representation so that the counsellor would know how he or she can respond to what the counsellee needs in order to be healed.

Hands-on counseling
On the morning of the third day, the group visited the Molave Youth Center at the social services Development Department (SSDD) of Quezon City, where the group applied the counselling and healing techniques on the juvenile offenders confined there. 

There were 195 youngsters, aged 13 to 21, most of them apprehended because they were caught in the act of using drugs and theft. After the recitation of the rosary, Apolo introduced the group and the reason for the visit. He led the opening prayer, and afterwards commenced with the collapsing anchors exercise. The one-to-one session then took place, with the couselors employing various techniques to aid the youngsters heal their craving for prohibited drugs and dissolve negative memories. Apolo closed the two-hour session with a prayer, inviting the participants to look beyond their current status and ask for the Lord’s grace and blessings for a brighter future.

In the afternoon, some of the counsellors shared their experiences with the children of Molave—how they used the processes they learned, coupled with the laying of hands as they prayed over their patients. 

Despite the newness of the encounter, the counsellors agreed that praying for the presence of the Lord during their one-to-one sessions with the young people made the healing session more inspiring.

Continuous learning
As a final word, Apolo encouraged the participants to practice, journal their experiences and attend a follow-through session via a webinar, where the counsellors can swap stories about their practice of counselling and healing.

What is next for CFC reform after this initial undertaking? CFC Social Development Coordinator Arnel santos sees a duplication of the training, with a possible training of more trainors, in order to increase the number of qualified counsellors and ultimately 
expand the community’s assistance in the fight against drug addiction. (Alma Alvarez)


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