Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Criminalization of Therapy

The “Criminalization” of Therapy

The first time I noticed this was when I was doing domestic violence work in the county jail.  My associates began to act like jailers and  enforcers in the jail environment.  After the session I gently reminded my associates that we were working with hurt people and attempting to help them better understand themselves.  They immediately understood.

Whenever a helping professional receives referrals from the criminal justice system, this tendency needs to be scrupulously avoided.  Often the counselor sees these people with disdain and judgement that leaks into their treatment of their clients.  
It is our unconscious or mindless tendencies that lead us to fall prey to these paradigms of enforcement.  I think there is a deep fear of enabling the client so the opposite is the type of tough love that is totally counterproductive to the health of the client.  There is a gentle and direct way to confront clients on their maladaptive behaviors and attitudes.  

It says in the Big Book of AA that “we avoid retaliation or argument…we wouldn’t treat sick people that way.  In Buddhism we see all humans as the Buddha or as an enlightened being.  The reason they behave badly is that they suffer from obstacles and obscurations which cloud their ability to see clearly and to treat themselves with compassion and honor.  Think of a pristine window that has had mud and grease smeared all over it .  The window, underneath the mud is still pristine.  Our job as helping professionals is to assist our clients to clear away the obstacles and obscurations.  If we act like jailers, we are essentially flinging more mud onto our clients pristine Buddha nature.

This is just wrong.

Until next time….Be Well

Monday, May 12, 2014


Relapse is the primary issue associated with recovery from any addiction or compulsive behavior.  Support is the primary antidote to relapse.  One of the reasons that 12 step programs help reduce relapse is that they are a support group where one can hang out and “work the program”.  I love 12 step programs and found my own recovery from many issues in the rooms.  But 12 steps is not for everyone.  

Some feel uncomfortable with the “spiritual” aspects of the programs.  These concerns are easily solved by substitution of concepts but even with this method many are put off and feel that they are being coerced into religion.   

Others and the vast majority of those I work with are uncomfortable with the group per se.  Many have social anxiety and are afraid they will be force speak in public.  Some are concerned about being found out by members of the community which can be pretty terrifying.  Some are just not joiners.  They prefer being alone and working with someone on a one on one basis.  

I provide that support.  Even though I love the 12 steps and the recovery I have been blessed with, I understand the above concerns.  I love to work with recovering addicts of all types including food and behavior.  Codependency is at the base of most addictions.  I started with a friend the first CODA meeting in the rural area where I lived for 20 years.  Codependents often need the support of someone with that recovery and may uncover other powerful addictions at work in their lives.  

If there are deeper issues at work that are beyond my scope I refer to other professionals who are capable of dealing with those issues, such as depression, bi-polar, ADHD, OCD that so many of us in recovery have to deal with.  

My approach is spiritual, particularly as a practicing Vajrayana Buddhist.  Atheists and Agnostics and most Christians and other Religion are usually comfortable with this approach because it is philosophical and very practical rather than dogmatic and pointed in the necessity of believing in God.  Many of tenets of Buddhism are direct treatments for dealing with many of the issues that co-exist with addiction recovery.  Those tenets are mindfulness, compassion, and a deeper understanding of karma and impermanence.  

Recovery Coaching is for those who fall through the cracks of more traditional therapy and Drug and Alcohol Counseling.  There is no stigma associated with coaching except for being too new agey or focused on success thru motivational prompting.  I don’t associate myself with those approaches.  I do associate myself with teaching methods that promote happiness and compassion for self and others.  It is impossible to be happy and grateful and in relapse simultaneously.  So until my next blog entry….

Be Well,  

Lovingly, Michele