How Phases Will Help Women Reclaim Their Lives

Note – ANY person trying to achieve a long-term behavior change is going to ‘slip’ as they move through different phases of wellness; we know this and we’ll expect it. It’s not a relapse, it’s a slip to a previous phase and a time for even greater learning. That’s why we want to be there - to provide long-term, ongoing, motivational support.

“It takes as long as it takes.”

Assessment – Program Phase 1 (up to 90 days, probationary period):

It’s time for a new opportunity. She may not be ready yet to start a new healthy behavior but we are going to provide the freedom and the time for healing for her to find out. We’ll provide her basic needs; shelter, safety, meals, and we’ll see that she has group based therapies. She’ll have a highly structured schedule and a basic work-rewards economy.  This is a time to stop worrying about survival and a time to ‘just be’. For this to be possible, we’ll ban all the negative influences from her previous life. During this time she will not be able to come and go, have visitors, or have access to her phone or the internet (social detoxing). She’ll be reluctant, rebellious, resigned, and/or rationalizing why her behavior isn’t a problem.

She’ll learn about human trafficking and suffer with her realizations. We’ll offer a reflective time to become more conscious of behavioral choices, the effects of those choices on herself and others, and to ‘catch a glimpse’ of what positive change would look like. She has to decide, is she going to stay, or run?

EXPECT: highly volatile, angry, fearful, hyper-vigilant, deceptive, constantly testing, unstable sobriety

Freedom – Program Phase 2 (may take 3 to 6 months):

She’s staying (for now). She’s willing to look at the pros and cons of her continued action and will begin individual counseling. She’ll still have a structured schedule but we’ll add in a re-entry to academics and an introduction to vocational programs.

She’s regulated her sleeping and eating patterns and other life skills will come more into focus. She’ll be preoccupied with household dynamics and trying to understand who she is, and who she is in relation to everyone else. More comprehensive case management can take place. This is a time we can encourage spiritual exploration and growth.

EXPECT: unstable, restriction testing, reaching out, waves of anger/sadness (and won’t know why), relational testing, peer dependent

It's time to put her toe into the water.

It's time to put her toe into the water.

HOPE – Program Phase 3 (may take 6 to 12 months):

She’s…staying? It’s time to put her toe into the water. She’s willing to consider the possibility of change, which means she’s willing to hope. She wants to learn more and it’s time to think more about the future and less about the past. This is a lot harder to do than it sounds, and there will be increased academic and vocational commitment, but it’s also a lot of fun! Her schedule will have greater autonomy and she’ll have more independence. This is when she’ll dig in and explore through different mediums and she’ll engage in activities she never would have tried before, with a greater emphasis on personal exploration and safe risk-taking. This is a time when our support will be steadfast and when she acts, but fails, we’ll be there to help her better prepare for next time.

She’s both reluctant and desirous of doing the deep trauma work she needs to in order to heal – this will include grief counseling, for people she may have lost in her life and for the life she didn’t get to have. By the end of this phase she’s ready to take action and will have found her voice to advocate for herself.

We understand that this will be a time of anxiety and it’s our hope that Sparrow Place can establish a product to manufacture in order to give our survivors the chance to learn marketing, sales, production, customer satisfaction…in-house while also earning income for themselves. (Keeping our fingers crossed and our minds actively pursuing!)

EXPECT: self-dependent, struggling with deferred gratification and intrinsic rewards, beginning to understand grief and forgiveness, fragile but by the end of the phase – ready to test herself

Restoration – Program Phase 4 (may take 3 to 6 months, dependent on graduation goals):

It’s time to go ‘all in’! She’s been practicing and sustaining her positive behavior for a minimum of 6 or so months. She’s made more specific goals and is working her action plan with autonomy. She’s put in the work to recognize her stressors and now she needs to work on avoiding them and resisting her urge to slip back. Hopefully, by now she’s begun to trust us and we are here to reinforce her positive choices and cheer her on. This is also an exciting time because it’s a time for her to begin, slowly, to take on the responsibilities of a job in the outside world (with guidance and help from us) and a chance to integrate more with the community. Our job of providing case management shifts to one of life coaching.

EXPECT: may decide to self-sabotage, fearful of losing community, eager but anxious to date, mix of excited, ambivalent, and terrified of the future



Phase 5…wellness is the norm! It’s not a time to push a resident out of the nest, it’s a time to celebrate and hopefully, we’ll have worked as hard as she has and we’ll have a second home – this one for transitional housing.

Although she needs to have self-accountability for sobriety, employment, and finances…our vision is for her to see us as a place of community and ongoing support. And, though control has shifted from our program to the survivor, our hope is that she would still want to be involved with Sparrow Place be a guide and adviser to leadership. She has value, and hopefully, she now feels it!

Greatest Danger Zones: social media, money, dating, loss of encouragement, inability to engage and socially connect to others

Reference: The Transtheoretical Model of behavior change; Changing for Good (1994) Changeology (2012) Changing to Thrive (2016) James O. Prochaska | John C. Norcross | Carlo C. DiClemente