Friday, January 30, 2009

5 Questions for Ilian Bustos, Hispanic Program Counselor

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Ilian Bustos
Job: Counselor, Hispanic Program, Lancaster Center
Time with BCI: 2 years

1. Why did you decide to work in addiction treatment?
The most important thing for me is to help people, to make a difference, to give them a chance to change their lives. It’s not our job just to listen to the client, but also to analyze and help them find solutions. You can’t change the life that another person has, but at least you can make a little change for them, with groups, or through talking, even from the time that they meet you.

2. Aside from language, what special needs do your Hispanic clients have when they come to us for treatment?
Most of the people that come here feel that they are fighting with the world, and sometimes they don’t feel accepted in the world. The challenge for me is to let them understand what they need to ask of themselves, in order to be able to find another way to help them. This way, we can help them to find another way to see their lives, and especially to feel needed in this world. [My biggest challenge is] to find a way to send a message to a client, and it doesn’t matter if it’s in Spanish or English, it’s really a challenge to find that gate that’s open, just to get the message out and try to do something different.

3. Tell us about the group you run.
This group is every Tuesday at 6:00, and it’s just for Spanish-speaking [clients]. I have people who are on the Drug Diversion program, Core division, and also Intake. I think the most valuable thing during my group is that I allow the people to talk. I use that to help them realize difficult aspects of their lives, especially their needs. I think the most important part is that they feel that they bond with the same culture and the same ideas, and I think that helps them to understand their treatment in another way.

4. Kiesha told us why she prefers to do intakes over being a permanent counselor. Why do you like being a permanent counselor?
It’s wonderful the way you can see how the client is making improvements in their own recovery. There are some clients, of course, who can’t make any improvement during their treatment, but it’s good when you see them coming back and trying to do something different. For example, people who are changing the thoughts they used to have at the beginning, who were not engaged in the program and recovery. When they are administratively discharged and they come back, they have another attitude. They are thinking about how to improve the kind of life they have, and especially to be a better person.

5. Tell us your favorite client success story.
I had a client who refused to have treatment at the beginning, and he tried his best, [but] eventually he was discharged. A couple of months later, I received a phone call from him, giving thanks. He mentioned that, thanks to all the advice I gave him, he was able to start doing something better. He continued at another treatment facility -- he’s no longer at BCI -- but at this point, he’s doing something different. He’s doing something for good.

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