Angela Argent works at SMART Recovery HQ as National Coordinator. Part of her role involves training community members to become SMART Facilitators. She facilitates her own SMART meetings in Newtown, Sydney on Fridays at 11am.
1. What do you like about SMART Recovery?
SMART is strengths based, hopeful and works with people where they’re at. It’s really important that change comes from inside a person when they’re motivated to do the work. Change is about taking personal responsibility, being accountable and owning a choice. The evidence-base for SMART is robust, but it’s also really practical and relevant. It builds a well-earned sense of self-worth and returns personal control to people when they need it most.
2. Tell us a little bit about your SMART group in Newtown.
The group is engaged, highly motivated and incredibly supportive and generous with each other. Each of the participants really is an expert by experience and everyone is great at listening to and supporting each other. There is kindness and sometimes a decent laugh. I feel privileged to work with such tenacious and resilient people. I love watching participants find active and courageous solutions.
3. In your opinion, what are the advantages to attending SMART meetings instead of other addictive behaviour programs?
Everyone could do with a toolkit for living, we all need strategies to get by day by day. When we learn that we have strengths inside us, strengths that are ours, we can transfer the skills we use in SMART into other domains of our lives (for example, SMART helps me manage my behaviour around my kids and work colleagues. These days, I find I’m infinitely less disturbable than I used to be).
Problem behaviours have nothing at all to do with the medical model or a spiritual disease. Often, they’re about trauma and the ongoing experience of disconnection, stigma and discrimination. Hope and change is about connection and regaining power in the face of adversity. I think SMART helps people get to a place where hope, change and connection is possible and even likely.
4. You spend a lot of time travelling around Australia, training people to become facilitators in their communities. How has facilitating your own meetings helped you train people?
I think learning to listen is key to both training and facilitation. Training and group facilitation is about translating the big and small ideas into strategies that work, and that looks different for each participant. Understanding what makes people tick is exciting and rewarding, because then I can support people to do whatever is most important to them. I’ve loved teaching all my life (I used to teach at university) and the ‘light bulb moment’ is such an exciting thing to be around for. I always learn so much more than I knew.
5. For somebody who’s interested in becoming a facilitator, what can you tell them about the training?
Training is really practical and hands on. When I was trained by Josette, I started to make connections and to see things about my own behaviours that I hadn’t understood before. Training builds confidence and consolidates the incredibly diverse skill sets that participants come to us with. It enables participants to see the work that SMART does and that change is entirely possible. One of the best things about facilitator training is the fantastic energy, intelligence and resourcefulness in the room, the buzz of it.
Click here to learn more about facilitator training.
6. What’s the hardest part about being a facilitator?
There is never enough time. I’d love more of it. People are really interesting and managing time in great conversations is tough, especially when people are really ready to do the work.
7. What’s the most rewarding part of being a facilitator?
I guess it really is all the tiny light bulb moments. The moment when an idea finally lands in place for a participant, when a connection or a decision to do something differently is made. That’s awesome.
Angela’s meetings are at the Newtown Neighbourhood Center in the Rainbow room (1 Bedford St Newtwon 2042) every Friday from 11-12:30. Click here to find a meeting near you.