Over the past year, we have been excited and honored to collaborate with Your Ally Foundation, an organization working to bridge the gap between treatment providers and primary caregivers through education, partnership, and advocacy. In building the organization, Founder and President Susan Wilkinson has brought her knowledge as a psychiatric nurse with a background in substance use treatment, as well as her personal experience having a loved one with substance use disorder, to the table. In her article A Broken Healer: Navigating the Personal/Professional Tightrope of Caregiving, Susan says the Invitation to Change helped her “find new meaning in what it means to be an ally.”
Susan started Your Ally Foundation in 2019, doing great work but continuing to search for an approach that could truly encompass her goals. When she was introduced to CMC in 2021, she recognized her own values in the idea of “science and kindness.” She took our 2-day training, and says “I know that I am a better spouse, mother, and clinician today than prior to the training…ITC has not given me the tools—rather, for me, it is the glue that holds all the tools together. ITC is my toolbox, where I continue to gather and store the tools that help me stay organized and feel secure in my own capacity as an effective clinician while recognizing my brokenness.”
Now, Your Ally Foundation and CMC:Foundation for Change are partnering to increase availability of evidence-based approaches for treating addiction in Uganda, where Wilkinson grew up, as well as in Zambia and the African Diaspora of New England (Wilkinson has lived for many years in Boston). What does this collaboration look like?
Your Ally Foundation is helping local organizations build infrastructure around the ITC, both for using it in 1:1 counseling and group work. Additionally they are meeting and working collaboratively with local treatment centers, schools, and non profit organizations across Zambia and Uganda to increase awareness of ITC – as we make plans for widening the scope of the project in 2023.
Beyond providing consultation, guidance, and materials, we are very pleased to have trained more than 70 professionals and community leaders hailing from Uganda and Zambia, with more than 30 of them now pursuing Level 1 ITC Certification. We are eager to track the impact of this work, expanding the presence of compassionate and evidence-based approaches, providers, and support groups in these communities.
It is difficult to overstate the power of sharing these ideas, which we know firsthand can transform lives and relationships, not only nationally but abroad. First and foremost, we hope to see greater awareness of evidence-based approaches to substance use, reduced stigma, and more connection, growth, and healing among people and families affected by SUD. We also look forward to the mutual learning and deeper insights that come from cross-cultural exchange, and know this will bring us all closer to our shared goals.
We are grateful to Susan Wilkinson and Your Ally Foundation for this project, and excited to continue on. We will continue to share the fruits of this collaboration!