I have added mini training options to the trainings I offer in the areas of Substance Use Disorder Assessment and Treatment, Motivational Interviewing, and Suicide Prevention and Intervention. This month, I had the opportunity to train youth counselors at Friends of Youth in Motivational Interviewing at their Kirkland location. The standard 2 day training was condensed into a 2 hour “mini” training option to provide a very brief overview of MI. I am always eager to help support local social service agencies in improving their knowledge base in mental health and teach clinical skills. It is truly inspiring to see young counselors in training and their eagerness to participate and learn. I am pleasantly surprised by how rewarding training can be, and I look forward to adding more training programs in the future!
I’m excited to join Essential Strides Coaching & Counseling Services. Located at a beautiful Farm in Bothell, WA. This equine assisted therapy program offers a team approach to therapy that offers both individual therapy and group life skills classes that can be done in conjunction with work with horses (either a groundwork class or riding class). The team consists of certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapists (EAP), Life Coaches, Mental Health Counselors and specially trained riding instructors. The combination of traditional talk therapy and equine assisted therapy in a farm setting sets clients up for a relaxed, enjoyable experience in a beautiful setting which helps therapy come more naturally. I will be working from both my Redmond office & the Bothell Farm for this time, but hope to move my practice 100% to the farm location. Change is good!
This year I am excited to offer mental health talks at the Redmond Library that will be free and open to all. Whether you have a concern yourself, you are seeking information on how to help a loved one, or you are a mental health professional looking for more knowledge on addiction, you are welcome to attend. These talks will be focused on providing information and guiding a discussion to reduce the stigma around mental health as well as to provide resources. The main topics will be related to addictive disorders. To find out the date and times of these talks, please send me an email and/or sign up for my quarterly newsletter.
I just finished the book Beyond Addiction (Wilkens, Foote, Kosanke, Higgsa, 2014), a guidebook for families dealing with addiction. It summarizes new methods for helping people change that have been proven to be more effective than the more conventional “tough love” or “waiting for them to hit rock bottom” approaches that have been the go to in the past but failed to deliver lasting change. In it, the authors recommend a more effective method based on the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement & Family Training). It is encouraging to know that positive family relationships is one of the strongest protective factors against addiction. While we cannot make people change, loved ones have the power to effect positive change through their relationship and the way we interact with one another. I have highlighted some of the key points to consider when using behavioral strategies to encourage positive change.
Reinforcement is the driver for change, with positive reinforcement producing the longest lasting change in relationships. A reinforcer increases the likelihood of a behavior happening again (ex: your loved one comes home sober, you make them dinner and greet them in a good mood. The reinforcer is both delight and dinner). The reward should be proportionate with the behavior. For example, getting out of bed on time without you helping them – you may make them coffee. A week sober, maybe you go to a movie, etc.
Tips for choosing a reward: It should be something they like but that is also easy for you to provide and remove immediately. It’s best to communicate with your loved one ahead of time, for example “I will make you dinner if you are sober, if you are not, I will not be eating with you”. It also helps to reinforce and encourage any healthy non using behaviors such as attending to responsibilities, exercise, enhancing healthy friendships, etc.
the 2 most powerful approaches:
- Use positive reinforcement to reward positive behavior when it occurs
- Ignore or Withdraw the reward when the negative behavior occurs
4 main strategies for discouraging behavior you don’t want:
- Hold back your reward (ex: making dinner if the person is using)
- Allow natural consequences to occur (ex: do not wake them up if they are sleeping in and allow them to miss work)
- Ignore the behavior you don’t want (if they are using around you, walk away, go into another room, go for a walk, etc)
- Punish (this strategy is not recommended by the CRAFT approach as it is the least effective in soliciting lasting positive change. It can suppress but typically does not illuminate the behavior for any meaningful amount of time).
Lastly, 10 hopeful things to consider:
- You can help. Family is one of the top reasons people refer for their motivation for entering treatment. Although it is an external motivator, it often leads to internal motivation for change
- Helping yourself helps them. Practicing self care on a regular basis is the groundwork for both having a balanced life and for setting an example for others. To avoid burning out from our life stress, we must take time for ourselves.
- Your loved one isn’t a bad person
- The world isn’t black and white
- Labels do more harm than good
- Different people need different options and tailored treatment. Always present choice
- Treatment isn’t the be all and end all. It aids the change process, but 25% stop their substance use without formal treatment
- Ambivalence is normal (people can be motivated in both directions and torn about what to do)
- People can be helped at any time
- Life is a series of experiments. Notice what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.
For additional free help, there is drugfree.org which offers parent coaching via phone support, and smartrecovery.org which offers both online meetings and weekly face to face meetings and families are welcome.
I am excited to offer a weekly addiction recovery group (6-8 participants) for adults ages 21+ that will run for 12 weeks total. This group with be skill based and action oriented with weekly goal setting. There will be a brief process based check in and check out to help keep clients on track. Sessions will be structured around topics such as psycho-education, trigger identification, coping skills acquisition, relapse prevention, communication and social skills, emotion regulation and boundary setting. Topics may be tailored to the needs of the group with feedback on which skills are most applicable at the time. Clients may drop in for the first session to see if it is a right fit for them, after which a 4 week commitment is required. An initial individual assessment is required prior to participation in group. This group is abstinence based and designed for those who are in the recovery stage of addiction and no longer using. The group fee is $20 and topics are posted one week prior.
I am very excited to begin my journey into private practice. I plan to continue to specialize in the field of addiction and trauma with continuous trainings, new certifications and endless conferencing !
As part of my commitment to ensure that mental health counseling be accessible to all, my services are offered for a modest rate with a sliding scale option. I am looking forward to giving back to the community by offering free or low cost workshops on various mental health topics to both community groups, agencies, and to the general public as requested. If you would like to keep in touch to hear more about these services please sign up for my quarterly newsletter that will include free information on mental health topics, resources in the Seattle area, and upcoming events. Send an email to :
Thanks for stopping by!