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  • Writer's pictureKevin Phillips

DRILL: The Heart of Training

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

ARS is planning to hire 50 new Behavioral Healthcare workers over the next two years. This presents a significant challenge.

One of our priorities is to be the best training organization in our region. Our goal is not just to hire the best behavioral healthcare workers we can find. Our goal is to develop the best behavioral healthcare workers available anywhere. Our goal is to not only be the regional standard in treatment. Our goal is to be the regional standard for training as well.

Wanda Cook serves as our Chief Operations Officer. She has also worked for over 35 years in the Arts training musicians. Over the years, she has trained the best concert pianists in the region.

I asked Wanda to serve as our COO for two reasons. 1) She is a master at creating efficient systems. 2) She is a master trainer. As a master trainer she has developed a training system that really works -- DRILL. DRILL is an acronym that stands for:




Learn, and


No one learns anything by reading a manual, hearing a lecture, or being told what to do. The first step in learning is to begin to Do the new practice you want to master. Reading the instructions is only a preliminary step to real learning. Learning begins when you begin to practice.

No one who begins a new practice masters it on their first try. Mastering requires repetition. You must Repeat the new practice numerous times. You must also be comfortable with making mistakes. Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly, at first.

Learning requires repetition. ARS is a safe place to make mistakes. This is a safe place to fail. This is also a hopeful place where practice, repetition, really does make perfect. We see this in our staff every day.

DRILL. To master a new discipline you must DO. The next step is to Repeat what you Do.

Repetition creates deep grooves in your neural network. The Grand Canyon is the result of repitition. What began as small trickle of water running downhill eventually became the might Colorado River cutting a massive forage in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Once you begin to Do a thing, do it again. And again. And again. The best musicians in the world do not just love to perform, that love to practice. They have learned to find joy in the repitition of practicing scales on a piano, or a new rhythm on a drum kit, or in the mechanics of how to position the jaw and open one's throat, and push their breath from their diaphram to produce a clear, resonate tone singing.

Great musiscians love the process of music making. Likewise, great behavioral health workers love the process of healing. Drafting a DAP note can be a chore, or it can be a joy. The practice of listening to a patient unpack their trauma, and the practice of looking for the hope that is being kindled deep within their soul, and the practice of documenting what you are learning about this other human being is a process great counselors and great care coordinators and great recovery techs find joy in doing and in the opportunity to do again and again as they feel their mastery grow.

To Integrate a new practice into your work means to understand where it fits in the system. “Why am I learning how to count medication?’ “Why am I learning how to draft a Communication Note?” “Why am I learning how to reinforce the schedule at our residential treatment program?”

There is an answer to each of these questions and many more questions as well. Learning is not completed after you practice in new operation. Learning happens after you have created a mental map that allows you to see the reason, the purpose, the importance of doing a thing well.

Learn, then, is the fourth step in the training process. It is not the first step. Only after you Do, Repeat, and Integrate the new practice into your understanding of your specific role, and how your role fits into the larger system will have your truly Learned a new task or skill.

In the DRILL system, as important as Do, Repeat, Integrate, and Learn are, the final step is the most important step of all.

Do you Love yourself doing the work? Do you come to work excited to start the day? When you are at work do you feel competent? Do you feel successful? Do you feel important – that if you were not here doing what you love, it would all fall apart?

ARS Training is complete when you come to work and find yourself loving yourself doing the work that that you do every day.


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