Laguna Shores Recovery founder Katherine “Kat” Sorensen has a constant presence at her facility because, as an entrepreneur who is always seeking to learn from others, she appreciates interacting with clients. This year, Sorensen and her team launched a new project, signing a lease for a $7 million house in Dana Point, CA, to host Laguna Shore Recovery’s second treatment facility.
Experiencing Addiction and Recovery First-Hand
Nearly all the staff members at Laguna Shores Recovery entered the field because of prior addiction and recovery experiences. As the founder, Sorensen is no exception. Before 2015, Sorensen had a successful career in the software industry but experienced burnout. “Every time I woke up, I had to ‘off ‘myself for a career that I didn’t like,” says Sorensen. By then, she was also developing substance dependency.
Fortunately, Sorensen began attending Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings that helped her reverse course. These AA meetings proved to be life-changing for her to achieve sobriety. When sharing her own recovery experience, Sorensen always tells this story and explains that, although she did not even go through rehab treatment herself, she is now running one. She says this journey was somewhat unplanned but has been nothing short of a miracle.
Embarking On a Path of Active Self-Discovery
After two years of sobriety, in 2017, Sorensen decided to embark on a soul-searching journey by interviewing people who seemed to be happy and fulfilled. She says these conversations revealed a lot to her and would serve as a guiding light in the next phase of her life. “I kept hearing that if you do what you love, the money will follow,” Sorensen recalls. She says somebody soon urged her to find something she felt passionate about doing.
Sorensen began reading extensively and engaged in non-conventional exercises to find her passion. Someone suggested that she imagine she was given a microphone and ask herself what she would want to speak about at that moment. One word immediately popped into Sorensen’s mind: recovery. Saying she was “in love with recovery” because it literally changed her life, she realized that helping people recover and find their own paths of self-discovery was something that brought joy to her life.
Developing a Plan
Sorensen met Alex Eonta at an AA meeting and discovered they share a passion for recovery. Eonta suggested that Sorensen consider making a career change and figure out how to open an addiction treatment center. At first, the idea seemed impossible to her because she had not even gone through rehab herself. However, Sorensen knew that helping people with addiction was her passion.
The immediate question was how to open a rehab center and make it successful. Although Eonta encouraged her, Sorensen did not feel ready. “I had no idea how on earth I was going to start a rehab if I did not even go to rehab myself,” she recalls. However, the idea was planted and kept growing. Soon after, Sorensen decided it would be beneficial to work at a rehab facility to gain some experience. After a few weeks of working at a treatment center, she says she quickly discovered she was ready to take it a step further.
“I really found myself enjoying the inner workings and found my entrepreneurial mind saying that I can make this better,” says Sorensen. “I can definitely replicate this, and I can see how I can make this my own.”
Those few months of trial and observation made Sorensen more confident about her abilities to start a treatment center. She and Eonta began working with a consultant who helped them get a business license. The pair found two other business partners willing to invest in their start-up facility, and, in October 2018, the team opened Laguna Shores Recovery in Orange County, CA.
Nurturing a Fun-loving Community
With just a few clients initially, Sorensen and her small staff decided to take a client-centered approach at the new facility. In time, the Laguna Shores Recovery team fined-tuned their processes – from admission to treatment to aftercare. Today, they have 14 full-time staff members, including clinically trained professionals. Sorensen says what she values most is the team’s ability to build a fun-loving community for recovering individuals. “Our passion is to let people know that fun is totally possible during recovery,” she explains.
This core value of providing fun-loving support to those suffering from addiction also shows up in Laguna Shores Recovery’s hiring process. As the co-founder and CEO, Sorensen is a keen advocate for hiring people who also like to have fun and enjoy life. She jokes that some of the hiring questions for overnight staff may include: “How much do you like to play cards? Do you know how to play spades?” Sorensen soon found that many alumni are inclined to work at the facility. As people who have experienced personal growth at Laguna, she says these alumni can better engage with clients.
Keeping the Family Feel While Expanding
These days, while working on expanding to a second location, Sorensen stays in touch with past clients and welcomes newcomers to her treatment facility. “They are family,” she says. She is also involved in many of the facility’s alumni events, including monthly game nights, weekly panels, and recovery guest-speaker engagements. Sorensen describes these activities as a way to encourage alumni to “come back and stay close to the fire.” While these events aim to celebrate recovery, Sorensen says it’s also to celebrate the other good things in life.
Kat considers all these entrepreneurial and community-building endeavors part of her “tremendously rewarding learning experience.” Most important of all, Kat says, is the growing community of love she is helping to nurture.
Do you know how to cope with stress? Counseling or therapy may help you identify and develop specific coping strategies to manage stress. If you suffer from chronic stress, it’s time to seek support from health professionals who can help you manage it. Therapists can teach relaxation methods such as meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness to deal with an unhealthy build-up of stress. For some people, chronic stress can lead to substance use disorder as they seek out drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings and escape from the causes of chronic stress. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced mental health professionals who can coach you through recovering from addiction and managing stress. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you. Call us at (954) 329-1118, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans.
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