REAL in Washington Co.

Aug 10, 2022


LifeWorks NW Recovery Empowerment Achievement in Life (REAL) program, formerly providing youth SUD and dual diagnosis services only in Multnomah County, is expanding to Washington County, as well. This opportunity is possible through funding from Measure 110, which has a focus on providing increased support for substance use disorder treatment across the state.

“The expansion of REAL is part of that state initiative,” says Erin Sewell, service director of Child, Youth, Family and Prevention Services. “We really saw an opportunity to bring culturally specific and culturally focused services to Washington County in a new way.”

REAL provides culturally specific alcohol and other drug treatment for African American adolescents and African immigrant youth. The need for it stems from the fact that historically many African American youth are not well served by traditional academic and other youth settings and are over-represented in the juvenile justice system.

REAL staff provide substance use and behavioral health assessments, individual and group substance abuse therapy, family therapy, case management, skills training, mentoring, multi-family support groups and other services as needed. The also provide full services to youth with a dual diagnosis.

“While it traditionally serves teens up to 18, we have also included transitional aged youth in some cases,” says Erin. “The program provides services on site, in the community and through Telehealth, and is primarily offered through fee for service authorizations.”

The Washington County REAL also will expand efforts to serve the many African immigrants who have moved to Beaverton and SW Portland and are often underserved by behavioral health. Family engagement and family support are critical parts of REAL, and services are not only for the youth. Instead, families are included in the program and wrapped into the support.

“REAL is a unique program,” says Erin. “It offers very creative, flexible, intuitive programming to engage youth and families that often have a lot of mistrust of mental health and substance use disorder systems. And it offers us the opportunity to reach communities that are historically underserved.”

“The Washington County REAL program will bring services to the area that families often have to go to Portland to get. We hope to expand on that by developing relationships with our community partners, Washington County Juvenile Department and other community agencies.”

Editor’s Note: If you know of friends or colleagues interested in the program, LifeWorks NW will be hiring QMHP, CADC and CRM for this program. Referral bonuses are available.