An Interview with Edi Hernandez, Primary Clinician at The Recovery Place
Edi Hernandez is a Florida native, born and raised. The daughter of a pastor and sister to three older brothers, Edi grew up with strong ties to her family and the church. And though she strayed from the church for a time and faced some personal struggles growing up, she feels strongly that God led her where she is today.
She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida and her master’s from Barry University before training in an acute psychiatric unit. Although it was an excellent opportunity to work with diverse client populations, Edi noticed the limitations of a system that focused on stabilization and medication management rather than treatment. So she set out to find a place where she could make even more of a difference.
At The Recovery Place, she found a group of professionals who truly cared for their clients and went above and beyond for every person that came through their doors. She also discovered a place where she could draw upon her Christian faith in her clinical work.
“Working at The Recovery Place has been a spiritual journey for me,” she says. “Even though some of my past experiences weren’t fun to go through, I needed them to get here – and this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Treating Dual Diagnosis
As a primary clinician at The Recovery Place, Edi draws on her diverse skill set in individual sessions and process groups. She specializes in treating clients with dual diagnosis (both a drug problem and a mental health disorder) and those seeking spiritual guidance in the Christian drug rehab program.
With her down-to-earth style, Edi provides a listening ear to all of her clients. In group, her goal is for everyone to come together as a family away from home, she in the role of the “crazy aunt.” Her approach is client-centered, meaning she meets clients where they’re at and allows them to gain their own insights rather than telling them what to do. She knows that her clients’ success depends on addressing the family system as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders, not just their drug or alcohol problem.
“In too many programs, mental health issues take a backseat during treatment, if they’re paid attention to at all. This can be a set-up for relapse,” says Edi. “At The Recovery Place, we address both addictions and mental health issues equally so that clients can work through the core issues rather than focusing only on the symptoms on the surface.”
Integrating Spirituality into Treatment
Edi believes passionately in the importance of spirituality in recovery. She incorporates scriptures into her clients’ homework assignments, 12-Step work and anything else they’re working on. Although scriptures, Bible study and church are all part of the Christian drug rehab program, they are only one aspect of treatment.
“We don’t shove religion down anyone’s throat or judge anyone’s relationship with God, nor do we take the position that a belief in God is all it takes for everything to be okay,” she says. “Being in the Christian track means being able to rely on God as another outlet of support. God provides the tools, resources and people to help guide clients toward living a better life.”
While many clients seek out the Christian track because they grew up in church or want to learn more about God, others fall into it accidentally. Because The Recovery Place has both a Christian drug rehab program and a traditional program, clients have a number of options to choose from for treatment.
“We encourage clients to take an honest look at themselves and decide if spirituality is right for them,” Edi says. “For those looking to reconnect with their faith, we try to bring clients back to their belief system. Others may decide a different path is right for them, and that’s okay, too.”
To Edi, one of the most important goals of treatment is rebuilding relationships.
“Active addiction creates distance in all of the addict’s relationships – with their spouse, children, coworkers and friends, as well as with God,” Edi explains. “If clients let it, treatment can be the catalyst that draws them closer and builds even stronger relationships.”
Outside of The Recovery Place, Edi likes to spend time with her family, which she says means absolutely everything to her. Her father, who is active in sharing Christianity with the recovery community, is proud of the work she’s doing.
“I guess I followed in his footsteps in my own way,” she says. “I believe all of the clients that come here are God-sent. Having the opportunity to see their transformation has been a real blessing in my life.”