The CARF Survey: Hey Look Me Over

Carf Survey of Sanford House
“Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up”

Jesse Jackson


The team at Sanford House has been preparing for our accreditation survey for several months and our CARF survey team left yesterday after two days of reviewing policies and procedures, talking with staff and clients, and touring all parts of our facility. It is an exciting and anxiety-provoking process to have surveyors looking at all aspects of our organization, as we try to show them our best and feel the pressure for their approval. As I sat with the surveyors these past couple of days, I thought about what clients feel like coming into treatment. The women we serve also want to show us their best but often alongside the debris of their addiction. How much do we scrutinize them, looking over the flotsam and jetsam of their lives to see their strengths and character?

Being inspected, examined and analyzed can leave one feeling apprehensive and vulnerable. We scramble for our pride, dignity and integrity while at the same time being told to be humble in the program, which is not a contradiction, just another effort to be made. We learn to ask for help when we realize our wishful thinking doesn’t magically manifest what we want. And we also learn that asking for help comes with no guarantees.

In the CARF accreditation process, there were approximately 1500 standards that we were trying to meet. If we did not meet them with full conformance, we received a recommendation. Thinking again back to persons in recovery, I wondered, as a therapist, how many recommendations I make during treatment. Am I careful to assess whose standards I am asking others to live up to?

Our CARF survey is completed, we are relieved and proud of our achievement and ready to continue to build our treatment successes. But I am reminded that my own personal inventory needs to continue, for as I have been a CARF surveyor these past fifteen years, I am grateful for the experience to remember that we are all subject to scrutiny, professionally, personally and spiritually and positive change is good for the soul.


Christine Walkons

Clinical Director


Sanford Behavioral Health is a residential and outpatient facility located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sanford offers excellence in evidence-based practice models in a home-like, restorative setting. Our clinicians, supported by our medical team, focus on resolving the underlying issues that often cause substance use, such as trauma, unhealthy relationships, co-occurring disorders and isolation. Programs include both in-person and telehealth: residential, day programs, intensive outpatient, outpatient, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), education and relapse prevention classes, one-on-one and family therapy, and alumni and family support groups. At Sanford, we want to inspire you to find your inner grit, rekindle your interests and engage your passion.