The “ABC’s” of “CBT” The shorthand edition of incorporating CBT into your arsenal of coping skills comes down to: A: Activating event – which is anything that happens to you, large or small.\; B: Your Belief about the event; C: The Consequence of the event and your belief. A simple example – watching a sporting event. When the event is over, we either feel good or bad depending upon our belief about the outcome. If our preferred outcome is realized we feel better than if it isn’t. Notice that our emotional response depends on our belief about the result rather than the result itself. After all, half the people watching are pleased and half disappointed regardless of the outcome or the fact that everyone saw exactly the same event.
Managing Your Emotions Rather Than Allowing Them to Manage You. S.M.A.R.T. Recovery is essentially based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or its more recent incarnation, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). In either guise the basis is the same – your thoughts and behaviors create your emotional responses, not the other way around. Manage your distorted emotions and you’ll have less reason to seek refuge through self-medication. Most of us are familiar with the pattern that runs, “I’m anxious so I have to drink to settle down!” or “I’m depressed….” Or angry, or suffering from marital discord, or……. All of these are usually self-induced conditions which we then “have” to self-medicate.
What are the top three predictors of failure when it comes to ending self-medication In some respects this is the easiest Newsletter of the year to write since I write on the same theme every year – as those of you who are long time readers know. Yet I never just cut-and-paste from previous years and I do attempt to inject some new perspectives too. So, here goes. Once again the holiday season is rapidly approaching, if the retailers are to be believed. Tomorrow is Labor Day, the kids are back to school, and Halloween is stocking the shelves and what better indicator of the impending “season” could you ask for?
What are the top three predictors of failure when it comes to ending self-medication Believing you are powerless to change; Joining any group that espouses powerlessness and life-long “in recovery”; Continuing to do the same old behavior patterns, but trying to do them without drinking. Let’s break these down. First, as Henry Ford one said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” When it comes to self-medication, you aren’t “powerless” unless you think you are, want to be, or have been brainwashed into believing it. The “benefit” in this belief is that you escape responsibility for your behaviors as well as avoiding future responsibility for change.
Insurance Issues Periodically we receive calls or emails asking whether or not we accept insurance. We do not, and here are the reasons. First, insurance records are not confidential. When you submit a claim, or one is submitted on your behalf, the claim must include a diagnostic code which will identify you as an “alcoholic” whether or not you even are one – not that there is even any definition of what an alcoholic is.
How many times? I recently received a phone call from a woman who, among other things, talked about her brother having been through “rehab” over a dozen times. I noted that he is certainly the “Poster Boy” for Minnesota Model treatment programs. This revolving door is exactly what “Facilitated 12 Step” is designed to promote. Any outcome except recovery is, in their view, a good outcome.
What is it that we do with you to alleviate your self-medication problem? The question comes up from perspective clients and their spouses or other concerned family members, friends, employers, and so on. If you don’t “do” AA, and you don’t require abstinence, what do you do?” We like to say that we offer safe, enhancing – and, yes, empowering – alternatives to self-medication which are based on 3 decades of research on what works. That’s the “elevator presentation.” And it is a generality. You’d like some specifics?
Trauma! It’s nearly impossible these day to look at on-line groups and not see that “trauma” is the newest “cause” of self-medication. This isn’t exactly news to any of us who have worked with PTSD suffering veterans, rape and molestation victims, surviving spouses, or any number of other conditions. What is unusual is for someone to look at, much less study, why some people succumb and others don’t.
Comments on “AA – Who it Helps, Harms, Kills & Why” It’s only been a few short weeks since the book became available and comments have begun to appear. Predictably, all but one of the negative remarks have come from people who haven’t read it – Steppers all, threatened by any divergence from their “party line.” The one exception came from a regular reader, with whom I often correspond, who suggested that my “hatred of AA” is on display. We agreed to settle on the idea that any animosity towards the organization is directed at the ubiquitous 13the Steppers whose predatory activities have existed in AA since Bill W. founded it and used it to further his own sexual abuses.
“But it’s helped millions!!!!” I’ve been experimenting with a very modest Facebook ad for the “AA – Who It Helps, Who It Harms, Who It Kills & Why” book and the response have been predictable – 95% positive and 5% outrage. The outrage coming, of course, from people who haven’t read it and never will, boils down to the “but it’s helped millions…” wail. We have, of course, being hearing this since we opened our practice 15 years ago.