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Podcast Series: Reflections Recovery Center

Gina Thorne:      Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series and I’m pleased today to be joined with Chailey Coyle with Reflections Recovery Center out of Prescott, Arizona. Welcome.

Chailey:                Thank you. It’s so great to be here.

Gina Thorne:      Yeah. Well, we’ve had a great time today in learning about your program and we want to share that program with others. Before we get into the details about Reflections, let’s learn a little bit about you. What brought you into the field of addiction treatment?

Chailey:                I actually am a recovering addict alcoholic. I have been sober. I will be celebrating, God willing, six years this year May 7. When I got sober, I knew that I wanted to help other people that were struggling from what I struggled with and I just knew that there were so many good programs out there. To be able to work in this field has just been such a blessing.

Gina Thorne:      Yeah. Well, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. You sound like you’ve got the great passion of recovery behind you which is great.

Chailey:                Well, thank you.

Gina Thorne:      You have this amazing program that works with men only. It’s not just men under 35. It sounds like you can treat men across the entire age spectrum. Can you describe a little bit about the program and what people would come to expect if they came there.

Chailey:                Yeah. Reflections is a four month extended care program with an option to do our alumni afterwards, which kind of just gives them a little bit of an extra padding of accountability. They can come back for after care counseling. All of that. During that first four months, they’re going to get the highest level of care for the first month. They’re going to be doing two group therapy sessions a day, meeting with their individual counselor once to two times a week depending on if they opt to do trauma therapy. We do have an EMDR trauma therapist and a somatic experienced therapist on staff, which is super awesome. Some people start it right away. Some wait a little bit.

Chailey:                After that first month, they come into sort of a lower level of care. They’re still doing one group a day, meeting with their therapist once a week still. Still meeting with our psychiatrist on board to tackle any co-occurring disorders that may be going on. This is where they’ll be able to start getting integrated back into the community. They will look for a job. They will start to participate in a lot of our activities that we do to promote unity. Lots of hiking, camping. They go to basketball games, NFL games. That kind of stuff.

Chailey:                Really, our goal is by the end of four months we want to step them down to where they’re ready to be acclimated completely back into the community with a solid support, 12 step recovery and therapy.

Gina Thorne:      That’s great. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for people who are moving through the recovery continuum.

Gina Thorne:      We’re going to shift gears a little bit and learn a little bit about you specifically. What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why?

Chailey:                I’ve actually given a Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. Have you heard of that book?

Gina Thorne:      I do. Yeah.

Chailey:                I’ve given that to almost every single person in my family.

Gina Thorne:      What’s that about? Why do you do that?

Chailey:                A Return to Love is how I actually came to really find my spirituality. When I got sober and I worked a 12 step program, I was introduced to the concept of a higher power and God. I didn’t really know what I believed in before. The 12 step program really propelled me into starting a spiritual journey. Then, reading A Return to Love just solidified everything for me. Really, it’s about love essentially being a higher power and everything being based out of love or fear and how to choose love in your life rather than fear. I’ve lent my book to clients that we have. I’ve, like I said, gotten it for my family members. It’s just an awesome, awesome book.

Gina Thorne:      Marianne Williamson is so well-known. She does A Course of Miracles as well. So, yeah.

Chailey:                This is based off of A Course in Miracles.

Gina Thorne:      Miracles. Is it?

Chailey:                Yeah.

Gina Thorne:      That’s great. Great book. Great recommendation. Playing off the idea of the word harmony. What does that mean to you?

Chailey:                The first thing that came to my mind was balance. I think about harmony, and I think about how in order to be a happy individual, and live a happy life, and be filled, and have purpose, I think about balance. That’s what harmony means to me. We’ve got to have balance in our work life. We have to have balance in our spirituality, whatever that might look like, with our friends, with our family. I think when we achieve that balance, that’s when we have harmony.

Gina Thorne:      I love it. That’s a great answer. If someone were trying to access services at Reflections, how could they get in touch with you?

Chailey:                They can reach our website by going to www.reflectionsrehab.com and then they can contact me directly. My phone number is 928-277-3465.

Gina Thorne:      Great. It’s so nice to meet you Chailey. Thank you so much for coming to Harmony and to Colorado and we look forward to working with you.

Chailey:                Thank you so much for having me.

 

Podcast Series: Highlands Behavioral Health System

Gina Thorne:                  Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series, and I’m pleased today be joined with Brittany Dekoch?

Brittany DeKoch:           Decook.

Gina Thorne:                   Decook? Nice to have you here, with Highlands Behavioral Health. We also have Claire here who’s the Director of Intake, but she says she’s not going to speak very much today.

Claire:                               It’s [inaudible 00:00:15]

Gina Thorne:                   She’s going to keep herself kind of quiet. I have a feeling we’re going to get something out of you today. Both are representing Highlands Behavioral Health System, and it’s really great to have you both here today. Before we get into talking about Highlands, let’s talk for a few minutes about your backgrounds and how you got into the field of behavioral health.

Brittany DeKoch:           Absolutely. This is Brittany. I think even from a very early age I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the world around me and I’ve always been very fascinated in human behavior and why we do the things that we do. I think that it goes … it’s sort of not a surprise that then when I went to college, my degree is in psychology, and I went on to get my master’s in counseling. Before I moved to Colorado, my background’s in youth homeless and runaway services. I did a lot of therapy with those individuals and their families. I’ve also worked in community mental health, and then most recently I’ve been a crisis assessment clinician in the emergency room.

Brittany DeKoch:           Stepping into my role as a community liaison for Highlands … obviously, no longer in direct care … but I really welcomed the new opportunity to serve as an advocate for the behavioral health community and to be able to connect people to treatment.

Gina Thorne:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it’s important because so many people are struggling with finding the right resources.

Brittany DeKoch:            Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:                   Having the right person who’s compassionate and empathetic is vital.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                   Yeah. Highlands Behavioral is an 86 bed psychiatric hospital and it treats adolescents and adults. On your website, you talk about this concept called the Navigation Passport. Can you describe what that means to patients coming to highlands?

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah. What I think is unique to Highlands is our Navigation Passport because it was developed by our clinical team. It really serves as not only a guide, a journal, a resource, but it helps the individual while they’re in the hospital, sort of check in, to know what’s going to happen next. But it also serves as a record outside of the hospital so that someone can take this tool back to their primary care provider or their outpatient therapist and say this is what my treatment was like at Highlands. These were some of the goals I was working on. To continue that therapeutic process and set them up for success outside of the hospital.

Gina Thorne:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it’s great because we need more of those types of services to provide that sort of warm transfer so that clients can find the next level of care.

Brittany DeKoch:            Right. I think that some feedback that we get in the community is that a lot of individuals have disjointed services or services all over the place, and so the Navigation Passport serves as this connector for an individual, and especially an individual that’s been in crisis. It can be hard to keep all that information at the forefront of your mind [crosstalk 00:03:04].

Gina Thorne:                    I think it’s for anybody, but especially for people in crisis. I know I struggle with that for sure.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah. I like to call it a planner.

Gina Thorne:                    That’s a great way to-

Brittany DeKoch:             A counseling planning.

Gina Thorne:                    Yes. It’s great. Well, I’m going to actually turn over here to Claire for a second and ask you a question.

Claire:                                Certainly.

Gina Thorne:                    You are the Director of Intake. What are some of the most common issues that you’re seeing who are coming into Highlands? What are some of the people’s struggles and what are you … what’s more readily available or seen in your calls that are coming in?

Claire:                                Excellent question. In psychology and psychiatry, it remains diverse. We see anything from acute suicidal, the depression is extreme. We also see … there seems to be an uptick in psychosis, mood instability, mood disorder. So it’s hard to answer the question. It’s just the full gamut. We also are seeing more and more people presenting with what we would call co-occurring phenomena with dual substance abuse and underlying psychiatric concerns and symptoms. I don’t know how else to answer that.

Gina Thorne:                    I think it’s great. It’s true, because we’re seeing a lot of the co-occurring coming in more regularly here at Harmony, as well, and in cases where we can’t treat the higher acuity mental health, that’s why we love to work with Highlands, because we treat addiction as primary and we recognize that both the co-occurring, the mental health and the addiction, often go hand in hand. But when you’re talking about some of the significant schizoaffective, depression, bipolar, anxiety issues that are coming up, there are facilities that don’t have the infrastructure to support that.

Claire:                                Correct.

Gina Thorne:                    So it’s great that you all are available for the community. I always like to learn about the people, not just about your program, and so I threw in a question that I thought would be really interesting to ask. And I’m going to give Claire a couple minutes to think about it, but I know that Brittany’s probably thought about it already.

Brittany DeKoch:            Oh, yeah.

Gina Thorne:                   What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months or in recent memory?

Brittany DeKoch:           Mine’s a little bit of a shameless self-promotion. Since I’ve moved to Colorado, I’ve volunteered a week every summer with an organization based out of Golden called Big City Mountaineers. Big City Mountaineers partners with youth serving orgs in the Denver area, specifically kiddos that are at risk, underserved, very much live city life and don’t have an opportunity to get outside and go backpacking.

Brittany DeKoch:            What we get to do is take kiddos out on their first ever backpacking expedition, which is really fun. I very strongly believe that the wilderness holds a transformative power. I think a lot of us that have moved to Colorado from other places, that’s a big indicator as to why we moved her, and so I like being able to share that with kids that would otherwise not have that opportunity.

Brittany DeKoch:            This year I’ve decided to be part of a summit for Someone Program, which is a fundraising program through Big City Mountaineers. A team of seven other adults and myself will be attempting to summit Mount Baker in Washington in July.

Gina Thorne:                   Where is that? Where is it? Washington state?

Brittany DeKoch:            Washington state.

Gina Thorne:                   Okay.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah. It’s a glaciated volcano. It’s going to be really exciting.

Gina Thorne:                   Wow!

Brittany DeKoch:           I’ve obviously paid an entry fee to secure my spot on that team and to start my fundraising process. And that is the purchase that I’ve made recently that really speaks to me.

Gina Thorne:                   That’s fantastic [crosstalk 00:06:46] and can you give a website for Big City Mountaineers?

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah. I believe it’s www.bigcitymountaineers.org. However, if you just went to Google and typed in Big City Mountaineers, it would pop up. If anyone feels compelled that’s listening to this wants to donate to the organization, feel free.

Gina Thorne:                   Great, especially for you.

Brittany DeKoch:            It’s a nonprofit.

Gina Thorne:                   Yeah, especially … so they can support your climb up the mountain, Mount Baker.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah, absolutely.

Gina Thorne:                   Is that 14,000 feet?

Brittany DeKoch:            Not quite. It’s almost 11,000 feet.

Gina Thorne:                   11,000, okay.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah. But there will be snow travel.

Gina Thorne:                   Oh, my goodness. Well, that’s a great-

Brittany DeKoch:            It’ll be exciting.

Gina Thorne:                   … a great investment. Great investment.

Brittany DeKoch:            Thank you.

Gina Thorne:                   Amazing. Yeah. How about you, Claire? Did you have anything to add to that? Any purchase that you’ve made of $100 or less that might have-

Claire:                               I’ve tried to think if I’ve purchased anything since moving to Colorado.

Gina Thorne:                   That’s fair. That’s fair.

Claire:                               Yeah, I think the best purchase has probably been a tank of gas to get to explore Colorado.

Gina Thorne:                   Oh, I like that. Good. Yeah.

Claire:                               [crosstalk 00:07:47] probably more than 100 bucks, but, in the last six months, it’s to be able to explore the … come up to Estes Park, go to Boulder. I’m brand new to the state.

Gina Thorne:                   Yeah, that’s a great answer. Especially on the fly like that. Good job.

Brittany DeKoch:            Yeah, way to go.

Gina Thorne:                   Yeah. So Brittany, playing off of the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Brittany DeKoch:            I think that living a life in harmony is being congruent in your thoughts, but in as well as your actions. Making sure that who you are inside and being the best, most authentic version of yourself is also who are presenting to the world. And I think that a big component of that … it’s very easy to turn inward and be self-reflective and focus on our own personal growth, but I also read somewhere that you’re only good as the company you keep. Paying attention to who makes up your community. And so I think that if you’re surrounding yourself with good people, it’s easier to feel like you’re harmonious in your life.

Gina Thorne:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great answer. Thank you for that. That’s great. And if someone wanted to access services of Highlands Behavioral Health, how could they get in touch with you?

Brittany DeKoch:            They could actually call our intake line directly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is 720-348-2805. And just by making that call, they’ll be connected to a clinician that can help facilitate the process from there.

Gina Thorne:                   Wonderful. Well, thank you both for taking the time to come up to Harmony. We’re really glad to have had you here. And we look forward to continued future partnerships with Highland Behavioral.

Brittany DeKoch:            Likewise.

Claire:                               Thank you so much for having us.

Brittany DeKoch:            Thank you.

https://www.highlandsbhs.com/

 

Mandatory: Making it Worthwhile by Khara Croswaite Brindle

“I don’t want to be here. I’m not going to say anything. I don’t know. Why should I talk to you?” You may find yourself thinking or saying thoughts like these in response to pressures to engage from a program, family, or friends. Perhaps you aren’t ready to share what’s brought you here, or what the challenges are that you are facing in this moment. Perhaps you feel like your personal freedom has been taken away, your choice to participate of your own free will. Understanding that you may feel angry, resentful, or withdrawn, please consider the following in support of getting the most out of something that is identified as mandatory.

Blocking or Belonging
You may come from a different background or hold different values from those you come into contact with, so what brings people together in this process? Shared experience around homelessness, financial instability, substance abuse, conflict in relationships, or a lack support can help one feel less isolated and alone in their experience. Although each person’s story is their own, the feeling of connection to others and belonging can go a long way in having an experience feel less mandatory and more voluntary. When you observe others engaging in the program or group, you may find yourself asking:

  • Do I feel I can relate to others in the group?
  • Do I feel this community is healthy, approachable, supportive, and willing to engage me in this process?
  • Do I feel supported by staff and helping professionals to achieve my goals?
  • Do I feel comfortable opening up and working on myself in the presence of others?

For many involved in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), they speak of the community as an equally powerful element as the 12 Steps in to their ability to actively participate in their own sobriety. Due to the friendships they make, they feel they have a connection to others in ways that feel encouraging and uplifting in moments of challenge or struggle.

Building Perspective
In addition to identifying a supportive community, how you approach the experience for yourself matters. Do you have realistic expectations of what you can accomplish both short and long term? Can you set yourself up for success in your work with others? When starting this process, it is helpful to understand basic needs as the foundation for progress. Educating yourself on how basic needs such as food, safety, and shelter provide the foundation of stability gives you permission to organize goals for success. Abraham Maslow, who identified this relationship in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, emphasizes that only when basic needs are met can one focus on higher work around self-esteem, sobriety, and relationships.

Relational Rapport
When exploring relationships, research tells us that therapeutic rapport accounts for more than any other factor when measuring progress towards goals set in therapy. In other words, the therapeutic relationship, unconditional positive regard, and power of feeling seen, heard, understood, and supported has positive results on goal progression. If your past experience involves trust or mistrust, being aware of how therapy and/or relationships have helped or hindered you in the past can put current resistance and reluctance in perspective. A few questions that you may find helpful at ask at the first meeting with a helping professional include:

  • What kinds of clients have you worked with before?
  • How do you work with people who are uncomfortable with therapy?
  • What do you do with feedback from clients?
  • What can I expect from working with you?

All of these questions encourage healthy discussion around the therapeutic process and can provide insight into expectations and measurable goals when engaging a helping professional in your own growth process.

Mandatory can feel restrictive and stressful when viewed as a loss of control or freedom. What better way to reframe it than to ask yourself, what can make it worthwhile?

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Dr. Wayne Dyer

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

For More Information, Please visit:
CATALYST COUNSELING, PLLC

The First Call Is Always the Hardest: It Makes All The Difference by Justin Barclay

I was 29 years old when I went to treatment. It was a nudge from a Judge that drove me to my first introduction to Harmony Foundation when I called asking for help. At that time I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol, but I did know that I didn’t want to be miserable anymore. Alcohol may have taken away the bad feelings, but it certainly did not take away the misery, it was an unwanted houseguest that had moved in and was planning to stay.

I will never forget that first call. I was scared, uncertain and feeling hopeless. Sharon, a former Union Boilermaker, originally from Pittsburgh, was my lifeline to my new life in recovery. Sharon was kind and understanding, she eliminated barriers, was honest, and insightful. I had tried different feeble attempts of getting sober that all involved managing and moderation. When it was all said and done, Sharon was quick to point out that everything I tried wasn’t working and said, “Try this!” She added that I was allowed to try things once in my life and never have to try them again if I didn’t like it. So, I tried, came to Harmony and by the grace of my God of my understanding, I haven’t found it necessary to pick up a drink or a drug since that phone call.

Whether you’re a friend, family member or just desperately in despair looking for help, making that first call can be overwhelming. Many people perceive addiction treatment likened to Jack Nicholson in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” In truth, most addiction treatment is not straightjackets, lockdown facilities and Nurse Ratchet’s.

In fact, good addiction treatment and working with someone in admissions is built on compassion, empathy, strength and guidance. As a person in recovery who went through the admissions process, I can say that the first call makes all the difference.

What can you expect when calling for help? First and foremost you should expect to be treated with dignity and respect. Someone who is willing to answer every question you have. You should expect to be valued enough as an individual that your questions will be answered honestly even if the Admission Staff knows the truthful answer may not be what you want to hear. Remember, you are making a call to save your life not giving someone on the other end an opportunity to close a deal. Insurance does not pay for flights, waving of fees and deductible only means that the revenue has to be made up from somewhere or someone else, that someone else could be you. If services provided and allowable items are different on the phone than the programs website, you have a right and self-responsibility to ask why the difference without being challenged. One of the most critical elements to a successful treatment experience is honesty. This critical element will be missing if the admission process revolves around any kind of dishonesty. You should also expect to work with an organization that will inform you if they cannot meet your needs and they will provide you with direction to programs they have a collaborative relationship with to best meet your needs.

Today, I am an Admissions Manager and since my first and only admission all those years ago, I have been given the good fortune to not just experience the admission process once, or twice, or even 100 times but thousands of times. I remind myself on every call how I was treated on that first call with Sharon, and I am committed daily to respond the way she did. People calling, no matter what the motivator, just want to be heard without judgment and respected. Admissions staff is the first impression of the organization they establish the trust necessary for the individual to begin a process of a willingness to change. Being dishonest, pushy and unclear about expectations sets everyone up for failure.

Each time I work with an individual or family, it is a privilege to be the resource that helps them begin their new journey of sobriety. No two admissions are the same. I honor and respect the clients allowing them to experience their own journey with the admissions process the same as I was.

So as you consider treatment and you inquire about what program is the best fit for you. Remember that that person on the other line may have the one thing you need to help you begin again. One thing I can say that is true for me, every time I try anything that involves the admission process, I learn from it, I grow from it, and most of all I love it.

Caring for the Queer or Transgender Person in Recovery by Luca Pax

The Center for American Progress reports that between 20-30% of transgender people struggle with addiction compared to an estimated 9% of the general population. This statistic is significant for those of us who are transgender, and for those of us who support transgender people in our lives. As family members and care providers, even if we have good intentions in caring for queer or transgender people in recovery, we may need to intentionally adjust our actions, in order to have a positive impact.

What can I do as a provider?

Ask, Affirm
When a transgender person shares an intimate part of their identity with you, honor and affirm their identity by using their correct name, pronouns, honorifics, and gendered or non-gendered terms when referring to them. If you ask someone their gender identity or pronouns, do so in a way that is not interrogative or invasive, but rooted in trust and relationship. Make it a normal practice to share your own gender pronouns, and to ask others’, so that transgender folks are not as singled out, or put into vulnerable situations.

Listen, Believe
If you are given the opportunity to learn more about the identities that your client holds, listen to their self-definition and believe what they share with you. Know that LGBTQIAP+ identities are valid and real, and that people who hold these identities deserve to be trusted in their self-knowledge. Remember that each individual is the expert on their own identity, and challenging or disrespecting a client about a marginalized identity contributes to their lack of safety.

Include, Support
As care providers, our first commitment is to do no harm. Keep this in mind for transgender clients when making room pairings and restroom designations in residential treatment. Consider using inclusive language in your policies and procedures, and in your new client paperwork. Making these changes may require us to deconstruct our own social conditioning about gender norms and stereotypes, in order to best respond to transgender clients’ assessment of their safety. We may also find ourselves in a position to educate, when confronted with discomfort that may arise for cisgender staff or clients.

What can I do as a friend or family member?

Your love and support matters! The 2012 Trans PULSE Project study shows that transgender people with a parent who is supportive of their identity experiences a decrease in attempted suicide rates from 57% to 4%. With a supportive parent, these subjects’ sense of self-esteem increases from 13% to 64%, and their overall life satisfaction increases from 33% to 72%.

Caring for our queer and trans family members in recovery means ensuring that our respect and love for them continues, unaffected by their transition or identities. We can lift some of their burden by explicitly supporting them in the choices they may make to transition or “come out” socially, legally, and/or medically.

As family and loved ones of transgender people in recovery, it is important for us to educate ourselves about what our loved one may be experiencing. It is equally important that we work to maintain clear and healthy boundaries, and that we prioritize our own self-care.

You may consider joining an Al-Anon or ACA group, and utilizing resources from organizations like PFLAG or Trans Youth Education & Support of Colorado (TYES). You may also consider picking up recommended reading like the WPATH Standards of Care, PFLAG’s Trans support publications, and publications by other addiction treatment providers.

For the transgender or queer person seeking recovery, I am here to reassure you that there is community who understands you. Whether you connect with other LGBTQIAP+ folks virtually, through social gatherings, or while receiving therapeutic care, recovering in relationship with others who love and support you is possible.

If you know the pain of isolation, you deserve to discover that freedom is available to you. Connection with people who have walked a similar path as you, and sharing honestly with others, can be your ticket to a life unbound by addiction, and rich in resources that affirm and sustain the health of your truest self.

There will be times when we, as queer or transgender people in recovery, feel very alone. Whether this is a result of an addiction, our environment, or the weight of simply being who we are in a world that often creates no space for us – know that there are people waiting to undertake this work and journey alongside you.

There are many tips online for how you can take small steps throughout your day to regulate and find relief (like 8 Mental Health Tips for Queer & Trans POC, and 5 Awesome, Immediate Self-Care Resources For When You Feel Like Actual Garbage).

You can also get connected to Queer Asterisk Therapeutic Services, a non-profit organization in Colorado run by queer and trans professional therapists and educators who provide queer-informed counseling services, community programming, and educational trainings to promote the inner wellness and social connectivity of queer and trans people. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and sign up for our monthly newsletter, to learn more!

Luca Pax (they/their/them), who is nonbinary transgender and in recovery, holds a BA in Education and Peace Studies from Naropa University, and works as Director of Community Relations for Queer Asterisk Therapeutic Services.

Edited by RP Whitmore-Bard, Communications Specialist.

Queer Asterisk Therapeutic Services advocates for the importance of excellent individual and community-based mental health treatment for queer and trans folks. Our therapists and educators partner with healthcare providers to ensure that queer and trans clients receive the most inclusive, highest quality of care possible.
We have offices in Denver, Boulder, and Longmont, Colorado.

Reference our Etiquette Guide & Glossary of Terms to support your education.