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What’s the Value of Healing Spaces?



We know that almost 9% of the US population is in recovery. We know this because people collect, analyze, report, and share good work with the world. But, how did people get into recovery? How will they stay there? These questions keep us going at AKA and keep me going as I write, reflect, and grow in my own healing. 


Why Evaluation?  Finding value is the goal of evaluation.

Mistrust of evaluation and research is common. Evaluation has been used to publish, pathologize, diagnose, and treat. Evaluation results can be used to get funding, document progress, inform change, and prompt policy/action.


This week’s presentation with UMKC Collaborative Center to Advance Health Services on Program Evaluation and Research Learning Exchange: Culturally Relevant and Community-Based Evaluation puts new ideas out in the world about what healing spaces have to do with recovery and well-being.

 Steps in EvaluationCreate a logic model. Outline and describe what you are doing. Develop critical evaluation questions. Select an evaluation design. Plan data collection. Analyze data–find meaning. Share results, promote equity, elevate recovery and healing.

We can begin with some big questions when considering the value of healing spaces. 

  1. What are you addressing? 

  2. What are the causes?

  3. What are the solutions?

  4. Do you ever keep doing what does not work? 


Like any good endeavor, finding value in healing spaces begins with a plan and some steps.






 

What does a holistic approach mean?

It means that we seek to understand first, the process never really ends until we exit. Relationships are at the center of all. 


 Holistic approach to evaluation model: 1. Surveillance - what is  the problem? 2. Understanding-what is the cause? 3. Evaluation - what works and for whom? 4. Effectiveness - How do you do it?

 

How do people get well and stay well?

If we don't know where we are at, we don't know where we are meant to be.”- A Kelley 2018

Recovery oriented systems of care model.

 

How does evaluation work in healing spaces? 


Systems approach to evaluation model; Input, Process, Output and Feedback

We’ve thought about this a bit, and a systems approach to evaluation seems to fit well. We are mainly interested in the healing space (environment) and what changes from before to after (a program, intervention, experience, and process). 


 

Recovery is Not Equitable, But it Should Be

People with milder addictions and more financial resources are more likely to recover. Recovery is not equitable yet- because of the differences in social determinants of health and structural conditions that perpetuate deaths of despair. A holistic approach to evaluation identifies inequities and advocates for targeting these in programming, policy, and outreach. 


Tips for Evaluation in Healing Spaces

  • Work on healing yourself first: You cannot give what you do not have.

  • You cannot evaluate everything: We have tried and failed miserably. Focus your evaluation on what you don't know and what you think might have the biggest value or impact on recovery. Remember that not everything that can be counted counts. 

  • Accept: A lot of recovery is unseen and unknowable. We cannot capture all of the thoughts and experiences of our relatives in recovery. We cannot know the higher power someone else knows- it is a unique and individual relationship. Just because you cannot name something or someone does not mean it isn’t real. 

  • Find the story: Our lives are a collection of stories of the past and hope for the future. Sit with people. Find out who they are and how they live and heal. 

  • Ride the waves: Not healing and experiencing relapse is part of recovery. What works for one person may not work for someone else. We are all ripples in the ocean of life. Be kind and humble.  


“We need collective knowledge about healing and recovery. We also need to create healing spaces that strengthen social support, housing, jobs, advocacy, meaning and purpose. Life comes down to choices and consequences. Not everyone has the same opportunities to make choices that heal. Evaluating recovery and healing must begin with this understanding. The rest is just in the details.” -A Kelley

My Favorite Tips and Tools



For more information about evaluation and healing check out these books:

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