Our Approach

 

As experts on the pathways into and out of addiction, our goal is to help you find your way to a more fulfilling life without your addiction.  Through individual counseling sessions, we will help you to successfully navigate a process of change that feels right to you.  This entails assessing your motivation to change; working through the barriers that have kept you from following through; identifying how you would like your life to be without your addiction; collaborating with you on your goals and how to achieve those goals; and preparing for unforeseen situations that may lead you back to undesirable behavior (relapse prevention).  Depending on your level of motivation and your expectation of success, this process could take a couple sessions, or dozens of sessions.  We leave it to you to decide how many sessions you see as being valuable.  

  

We recognize that addictive behavior does not arise in a vacuum.  Addiction occurs in the context of other aspects of one's life.  These include relationships with others (friends, family, isolation), overall life stress, traumatic experiences from the past, selfishness/narcissism, physical/psychological pain, existential meaninglessness in life, self-acceptance/self-hatred, and a variety of other psychological and social variables.  As professional counseling psychologists, we are trained to help you address these areas of your life as they intersect with your addictive behavior.  Our goal is to help you have a better life, not just change your addictive behavior.

 

We operate from a context known as "harm reduction."  This means that we want to help you reduce the harms associated with your addictive behavior.  Toward this, quitting the behavior entirely, or moderating the behavior, are both acceptable goals.  We will work with you on creating a detailed plan to succeed in your goal.  Subsequently, we will assess with you how well you are succeeding, and help you iron out any difficulties you are experiencing.  Ultimately, we want to help you to overcome your distress in order to live a more desirable life in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling to you.  For some people, achieving an increased level of life satisfaction can precede changes in overcoming addictive behavior.  We do not require you to change your addictive behavior first.

 

Despite these commonly used metaphors, counseling is not "treatment," and addiction is not a "disease."  Instead, counseling is a relationship between two people in which they discuss how one person can live a better life.  Addiction, rather than being a disease, is a learned behavior that is under the control of the individual and can be changed through psychological and behavioral means.  Our counseling sessions will help you better understand how you have continued to value your addictive behavior (the immediate pay-offs of the behavior), and how that conflicts with your deeper values and goals (the longer-term consequences).  We can help you restructure aspects of your life in a way that has you devoting your time/attention to what is really important to you.  This approach is based in the tradition of professional psychological counseling and has little to do with the standard approach of addiction "treatment," which is heavily based in getting clients to buy into the disease model of addiction, the idea of powerlessness, and the need to work the 12 Steps.  


Before meeting you, we do not make any assumptions about you, your behavior, or how to help you change.  Rather, we work with you on helping you construct a life that is more meaningful and fulfilling according to your values and goals.  This individualized approach is standard in general counseling situations, but quite lacking in most U.S. in addiction counseling (despite common claims of individualizing treatment).  We are here to provide you with professional counseling applied to addictive behaviors, that addresses all areas of your life that are important to you.