The Lake County Residential Re-Entry Program in Baldwin is the only one of its kind in Michigan that is a combined state and county effort. The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) provides the programming, while Lake County provides the staff, and the physical management and daily maintenance of the facility. Programs offered by CCWM in Baldwin include women’s substance abuse group counseling and the men’s Residential Re-entry Program. Through educational groups, our qualified and dedicated staff work towards increasing self-esteem and developing skills necessary to live healthier lives,” said Vice President of Behavioral Health Priscilla Kern.

Lake County Residential Re-Entry Program, Baldwin, MI:
CCWM therapists Matt Miller and Carol Tillotson are stationed at the Lake County Residential Re-Entry Program where they work on a daily basis to provide help and create hope to facility

Carol Tillotson

Carol Tillotson

residents. Carol, who joined the CCWM team in February 2014, also provides individual and domestic violence group counseling in the Big Rapids office. Carol and Matt share an office located outside of the guard station in the men’s residential area. Matt has spent more than two years with CCWM as a Substance Abuse Counselor. In his role, Matt works with groups of parolees with substance abuse disorders. “I enjoy my time with our clients focusing on substance abuse, but more on life issues and their ability to become more productive citizens,” Matt said. “Our program is important because it gives our clientele a sense of structure and home for a better tomorrow.”

Carol currently facilitates 14 group sessions weekly, all of which will meet for a total of 18 sessions. She uses cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma based therapy during her women’s group sessions. Her personal approach to counseling is Reality Therapy and Choice Therapy.

“Each new group presents a new dynamic to work with,” Carol said. “I am challenged with breaking down their resistance, instilling hope, and facilitating a new way of thinking for them.” Those with whom Carol meets have served prison terms, violated parole, and are required by the State of Michigan to attend substance abuse programs while incarcerated. But time spent in group therapy is more than an obligation. “It is an opportunity for them to see a new way of perceiving themselves, thus gain hope to make changes in their futures,” Carol said.

Matt Miller

Matt Miller

Carol begins each new group by asking members to define themselves in order to gain a sense of self and set the foundation for changing their thought patterns from feelings based to values based. “Most residents that I work with have very little concept of values based living. Consequently, their personhood has not been valued, and they have low self-worth,” she said.

Carol imparts the true meaning of humanity on those with whom she works. She teaches them that every person has value and a purpose in life. “I explain to them that abuse disconnects them from their humanity, and healing is to reconnect to a sense of self,” she said. Reconnection begins when someone can find the value in his or herself and make a choice based on the universal code of ethics. The values system Carol teaches her groups includes:
• Freedom of Choice
• Do good
• Do no harm
• Faithfulness
• Justice

“I tell my clients that if no one has ever valued you, and you have not valued yourself, you can begin today to learn how to value yourself by making choices from this code of ethics. The responses still surprises me. Many will break down and cry, and others ask why no one has told them this before,” Carol said.
“I tell the men I work with that to live by a code of ethics is not child’s play. This is a man’s job, so MAN UP, and put childish behavior behind them. Now, the halls at Baldwin ring with, “Man up, Ms. Carol!” It makes my day and all the work so worth it to hear the hope and confidence in their voices as they shout this out.”