Graduation ceremonies mark the completion of treatment in a tangible way, celebrating how far each individual has come and sending them out to succeed in recovery.
Recovery may be a lifelong process, but there are still important milestones along the way. At The Oaks at La Paloma Treatment Center, the completion of residential treatment is a huge achievement, and we believe it’s important to mark that accomplishment in a special and memorable way.
The Oaks at La Paloma graduation events are called Crossroads ceremonies, and they’re held every Thursday from 11 am to noon. Alumni/Event Coordinator, Carol Ricossa, is there at every one to celebrate how far each individual has come. “I always say I’m not going to cry,” she says, “but I cry at every one of them.”
This year, the ceremony has taken on a more sacred, reverent feel. Poems are read, music plays in the background, and a team leader or group leader announces that week’s graduates. The therapist for each of the graduates comes up and says a few words about the journey of their patient and the wishes they have for that person.
In the most symbolic part of the ceremony, the patient is given a rough stone. The rock is symbolic of what they’re leaving behind at this important crossroads in their life. Then they give voice to just what it is that they’re walking way from. It may be something like, “I’m leaving behind the person I was, the person that lied, the person that neglected.” They may also talk about what they’re taking with them – “I’m taking confidence, all the tools I’ve gained here, the person I was born to be.” Then they lay down that rough rock and pick up a smooth stone that represents the journey ahead.
Sometimes this ceremony is attended by family or friends, and local The Oaks at La Paloma alumni often stop by to speak to how they’ve grown or what they’ve learned in the months since treatment, providing encouragement from further along the road.
After entering treatment feeling like there’s little in their lives to celebrate, graduation from the program with a new outlook and sense of accomplishment sets them up to succeed at lifelong recovery.