I treat behavioural and most substance addictions.
I also work with affected others who need help coping with family members who have addictions.
With sustained effort and a good plan, it is possible to recover from an addiction. There is always a self to be recovered and built up
I provide a safe non-judgmental space for people to develop and work a recovery program, one tailored to each client’s personality and circumstance but also designed to minister to the universal features of addiction.
Most people with an addiction know they have one, want to change, have tried to change, but have failed to do so for a sustained period of time. They haven’t succeeded because the addiction itself undermines their ability to change. The addicted person has mostly lost the power to 1) honestly assess themselves, 2) soothe and regulate their body in the moment, 3) set up healthy routines, and 4) consistently sustain their will to change.
But this power can always be revived. The rational loving part of a person can always be re-engaged and recovered.
A strong recovery requires four basic human undertakings: 1) meaningful dialogue about the self with at least one other person 2) the use of simple practices to calm the body when urges surface, 3) the maintenance of healthy routines and structures, and 4), through these three efforts, the preservation of the will to change and maintain change.
With these undertakings in mind, I help addiction recovery clients to:
- Manage and resist urges when they arise
- Set up practical barriers between themselves and what they crave
- Identify what they feel, think and do as their urges emerge so they have greater power to manage and resist them
- Identify, manage and resolve the emotional pain that their addictive behaviour is temporarily medicating
- Change disturbed states into manageable and/or healthy ones
- Utilize forceful counterarguments to permission-giving thoughts
- Develop and use If Triggered, Maintenance, and Well-Being plans to help avoid relapse
- Understand their addiction in the larger frame of their life
- Work through historical or recent trauma (if appropriate)
- Develop and use memory tools to help them remember to remember to work their recovery plans
- Understand the role the brain plays in addiction
- Employ family, friends and community and local groups to aid them in meaningful conversation and support
- Recognize the parts of their personality that play a role in their addiction and the parts that can support their recovery
I treat the following addictions:
- Online Gaming
I don’t treat prescription drug addictions.
If an addiction is severe enough I will do an initial assessment and refer clients to detox or treatment centres for initial treatment. I also frequently refer clients to (free) local community addiction programs and groups, including 12 step groups.
I often work with clients who have completed Stage 1 recovery work and who now, with their addictive behaviour under control, want to deepen their recovery with psychodynamic, couples and/or trauma work.
EMDR Feeling State Addiction Protocol
I occasionally use the EMDR Feeling State Addiction Protocol (FSAP), a recently developed EMDR protocol that helps to reduce the urges associated with addictions by processing the Positive Feeling States integral to (most) addictions. http://www.fsaprotocol.com/
EMDR, an evidence-based trauma treatment, processes and discharges the negative feeling states that become locked or fixed in the brain following overwhelming events that the brain has not fully processed. The new EMDR Feeling State Addiction Protocol treats the positive feeling states associated with addiction as similarly fixed or locked brain states, albeit positively-experienced ones, that can be discharged with EMDR processing. With the processing of such positive feeling states, often comes the diminishment of urges.
The FSAP also facilitates the processing of negative states integral to the addiction: the need to feel the positive state; the negative self-belief and feelings underlying that need; and the negative self-belief and feelings created by the (consequences of the) addictive behaviour.
There is not a body of evidence that proves the FSAP consistently discharges addiction urges but I have found it useful in reducing urges with some clients. I have also found it very useful in helping most clients to work through the negative thoughts and feelings underlying their addictions.
I did a one-year practicum and was employed for two years at Addictions Services York Region, in Aurora Ontario. For nine years I have been a contractor (or sub-contractor) in BC’s Responsible and Problem Gambling Program.
I did training in the FSAP with the protocol’s creator, Dr. Robert Miller, in the summer of 2013 and soon afterwards completed a series of group consultations with him.