Hugh Kilpatrick is one of Australia’s most experienced SMART Recovery facilitators. When he’s not running his Thursday night group in Melbourne’s north, he’s facilitating online meetings for SMART Recovery USA. We’re very fortunate to announce Hugh will host Australia’s first ever online SMART Recovery meeting later this month. In the meantime, we sat down Hugh to learn more about his relationship with the program.
How did you came across SMART Recovery?
I decided to stop drinking back in 2012 and went to the only game in town I knew, which was AA. It wasn’t a great fit for a few reasons – the biggest being I am an atheist. Despite the outstanding support of some wonderful AA members, after 6 months I Googled alternatives and came across SMART Recovery. At the time, there weren’t any meetings near where I lived, so much of my interaction with the program was via online resources.
What do you like about the program?
I really appreciate it’s evidence-based nature and the fact there’s such a large collection of tools that each offer practical assistance.
What made you decide to become a Facilitator?
I have professional experience as a trainer, sales trainer and manager – all different things, but related. Some of those people skills have transferred well to being a SMART facilitator. But on top of that, I’ve always strived to give back to my community – being part of Lion’s Club, School Council (that was the toughest gig), and various other community roles.
Facilitating meetings is a way for me to do community service, plug the gap regarding SMART meetings in my area, as well as continue my growth and learning and keep my mind active.
What do like about being a SMART Recovery Facilitator?
I like hearing how people have turned their lives around, or used the tools to get life insights. I would say it also helps me live a more engaged life.
Can you tell us about the groups you facilitate?
I have been running a combination of online and face-to-face meetings for the past three years. I currently facilitate an online meeting for SMART USA called ‘Tool Time’ – Tuesday 9.30pm EST, but also fill in for other online Facilitators if they’re away. I’ve got my regular face-to-face meeting in Preston on a Thursday night and I’m very excited to be starting an online meeting here in Australia on Thursday April 20 at 9pm (AEST). It will be fantastic to have an online meeting based here for Australian audiences.
What’s the biggest difference between facilitating online and face-to-face meetings?
I did telephone personal emergency counselling for 18 months and my trainer Alan Brown said that it was like you are in a control tower and a plane radios in that it is lost. You have no idea where it is or where it is going. Your challenge is to try and help the pilot recognise important landmarks, reinforce their ability to fly the plane, and help them head in a direction that will work for them. Online facilitating is very much like that, with the similar challenge that the pilot can just disconnect at will. With face-to-face meetings, you have the opportunity to see use visual cues as well. A picture might not be worth a thousand words, but it has to be worth a couple.
Hugh will commence facilitating Australia’s first online SMART Recovery meeting on Thursday, April 20 at 9pm (AEST). Contact SMART Recovery Australia head office for more information: (02) 9373 5100.