Category Archives: Recovery Coaching

Narrative Coaching

Narrative Coaching

Narrative therapy posits that our identities are shaped by the accounts of our lives found in the stories or narratives we tell. The bridges of meaning we build with others through conversation helps us develop new perspectives and shape events into new, more hopeful narratives; listening to and telling stories about ourselves and our lives shape new realities.  The narrative perspective raises the client’s awareness of  the stories that shape their perception of reality and helps them achieve a more nuanced understanding of their situation. This provides a stronger foundation for action and decision-making but it may also be an end in itself.

Process Work

This variation of Jungian Psychology is based on the theory that the unconscious mind manifests itself through physical symptoms, addictions, social and mental tensions, and relationship challenges as well as through dreams.

The purpose of Process Work is not necessarily to bring about change as it is to bring about awareness of underlying causes that precipitate current conditions – what is being communicated by the unconscious. This awareness allows us to follow the required processes that will lead to finding real meaning and purpose in whatever it is that we are experiencing.

The current symptoms, behaviours or conditions (primary process) are signals pointing towards the real underlying message containing the real meaning and purpose (secondary process) of the behaviour, through which we ultimately transform. The behaviour is often a reflection of an edge (enforced by edge figures, either supporting or fighting against the edge) against a deep desire or intention. This can cause us to unconsciously turn our power against ourselves, creating e.g. symptoms.

This process can work through various channels that need to be identified. We need to learn how to unfold the meaning embedded in these signals. For example an illness may be requesting integration, creating consciousness by creating pain.

Dual Diagnosis

The term ‘dual diagnosis’ is used when someone has a combination of mental health problems and alcohol or drug problems (‘substance misuse’)

  • The reason why someone may develop these problems together depends on the individual, but in many cases people use drugs or alcohol to ‘self-medicate’ in order to make symptoms of mental illness and side-effects of medication easier to handle
  • Substance misuse occurs when use of alcohol or other drugs has a negative impact on someone’s functioning on a long-term basis
  • It’s important that mental health and substance misuse services work together to make sure people with a dual diagnosis get adequate treatment and support.
  • When someone has substance misuse problems on top of a mental health problem there can be increased risks, such as involvement with the criminal justice system
  • In some circumstances, assertive outreach services should be considered for someone with a dual diagnosis. Assertive outreach services take a more proactive approach to treatment and support in the community.

Dual diagnosis refers to Co-occuring Disorders of Mental Health disorders and Substance Abuse disorders (alcohol and/or drug dependence or abuse).

Dual Diagnosis and Dual/Multiple disorders profiles may include the following:

  • Severe/major mental illness and a substance disorder(s)
  • Substance disorder(s) and a personality disorder(s)
  • Substance disorder(s), personality disorder(s) and substance induced acute symptoms that may require psychiatric care, i.e., hallucinations, depression, and other symptoms resulting from substance abuse or withdrawal.
  • Substance abuse, mental illness, and organic syndromes in various combinations. Organic syndromes may be a result of substance abuse, or independent of substance abuse.

Persons are found across the mental health and substance abuse systems who have various combinations of these dual/multiple disorders.

They are also found outside of these systems of care, often among the homeless, and within the criminal justice system.

Mindfulness Meditation and Addiction


Causes For Addiction And How Mindfulness Meditation Can Help With Them.
By Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. in The Wise Open Mind

One of the first steps in dealing with addiction is to discover the emotional cause of it, whether it is fear, depression, anxiety, or pessimism. Many times these unwholesome thoughts and beliefs come from what I call the “wanting mind.” In wanting mind, we feel that our current state of unhappiness could be cured if only we could have the money, job, relationship, recognition, or power we had and lost, or never had and strongly desire. Often we cause ourselves suffering when we ache for something that lies out of our grasp or cling in vain to something that has already passed away. Sometimes, wanting mind involves tightly holding on to something negative: an unwholesome belief about how things ought to be or should have been, or an unwholesome emotion such as anger, sadness, or jealousy. Mindfulness practice helps us develop the capacity to see clearly exactly what we’re attached to so that we can let go of it and end our suffering. The hidden areas of resistance that emerge into our awareness can be noted and examined later so that we can make the conscious choice to reject them.

You can never completely avoid the wanting mind or any other hindrance. Desire is part of being human. It causes us to strive toward bettering our lives and our world, and has led to many of the discoveries and inventions that have provided us with a higher quality of life. Yet despite all that we can achieve and possess, we can become convinced that we won’t be happy or contented unless we acquire even more. This unwholesome belief can lead to competitiveness and feeling resentful toward, or envious of, those who seem to have an easier life.
If I have a patient who is using drugs or even food to manipulate their moods I first refer them to a nutritionist; a psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist; or a holistic doctor, such as an integrative medical doctor, to break this habit. In addition to this I recommend mindfulness meditation, yoga practice, and regular exercise as they are all excellent to help mood regulation. These types of activities lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your bloodstream, increase your interleukin levels (enhancing your immune system and providing you with greater energy), and streamline your body’s ability to cleanse itself of chemical toxins, such as lactic acid in your muscles and bloodstream, which can affect neurotransmitter receptors and alter your mood.

The challenge to altering addictions is the fear that you can’t change which can push you into denial and cause you to minimize the consequences of your unproductive behaviors. Whatever you discover about yourself and however painful your discovery, dramatic breakthroughs are always possible. Research on mindfulness meditation indicates that qualities we once thought immutable that form temperament and character can actually be altered significantly. By retraining your mind through mindfulness practice, you create new neural networks. If you’re aggressive, you can find ways to temper that aspect of yourself, becoming assertive and clear about your boundaries without entering into a competitive and possibly even hostile mind-set that will sabotage you.

For many years, scientists believed that the brain’s plasticity, that is, its ability to create new structures and learn, was limited after childhood. However, new research shows that we can alter the structure of the brain and reap the benefits well into adulthood. Sara Lazar, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, discovered that the more one practices mindfulness meditation, the thicker the brain becomes in the mid-prefrontal cortex and in the mid-insular region of the brain. Changing your mind (or thought processes) actually causes changes in the brain (Lazar et al. 2005). Lazar found that, while people who’ve practiced meditation for ten or twenty years are adept at quickly achieving a state of concentration and mindful awareness, newcomers who engage in mindfulness meditation as little as four hours a week can achieve and sustain a state of mindfulness that leads to creative flow, or what I call “open-mind consciousness.” She discovered that even beginning meditators in their early twenties were able to achieve advanced states of concentration and insight (what I refer to as “mindstrength”) equal to that of senior meditation practitioners. Intention and attention of focus were the keys to reaching these states, not the number of hours spent on a meditation cushion (Lazar and Siegel 2007). From my own experience and work, I know that regular mindfulness practice allows us to set aside distractions and enter the transformative state of open mind.

Mindfulness practice may positively affect the amount of activity in the amygdala, the walnut-sized area in the center of the brain responsible for regulating emotions (Davidson 2000). When the amygdala is relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system engages to counteract the anxiety response. The heart rate lowers, breathing deepens and slows, and the body stops releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream; these stress hormones provide us with quick energy in times of danger but have damaging effects on the body in the long term if they’re too prevalent. Over time, mindfulness meditation actually thickens the bilateral, prefrontal right-insular region of the brain (Lazar et al. 2005), the area responsible for optimism and a sense of well-being, spaciousness, and possibility. This area is also associated with creativity and an increased sense of curiosity, as well as the ability to be reflective and observe how your mind works.

By building new neural connections among brain cells, we rewire the brain, and with each new neural connection, the brain is actually learning. It’s as if we’re adding more RAM to a computer, giving it more functionality. In The Mindful Brain, leading neuroscientist Daniel Siegel (2007, 5), defines the mind as “a process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” His early brain research showed that “where neurons fire, they can rewire” (2007, 291); that is, they create new neural pathways or structures in the brain. He postulates that one of the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice is this process of creating new neural networks for self-observation, optimism, and well-being. Through mindfulness meditation, we light up and build up the left-prefrontal cortex, associated with optimism, self-observation, and compassion, allowing ourselves to cease being dominated by the right-prefrontal cortex, which is associated with fear, depression, anxiety, and pessimism. As a result, our self-awareness and mood stability increase as our harsh judgments of others and ourselves decrease. By devoting attention, intention, and daily effort to being mindful, we learn to master the mind and open the doorway to the creativity available in open-mind consciousness.

It’s entirely possible that the same effects can be achieved through other practices that appear to open up new neural pathways, such as tai chi, yoga, and other forms of meditation, but thanks to researchers studying mindfulness meditation, we now know that we can actually remap the brain and affect the way it functions, as well as the way it influences the body.

Recovery Slogans

• Abstinence is a Journey, not a Destination.
• If God seems farther away, who moved?
• Identify - don't Compare.
• Practice an Attitude of Gratitude!
• Bloom where you are planted.
• Change is a process, not an event.
• Backsliding begins when knee-bending stops.
• The First Step in overcoming mistakes is to ADMIT THEM!
• Formula for Failure: Try to please everyone.
• We're responsible for the effort not the outcome.
• In NA, we don't carry the addict, we carry the message.
• Don’t curse the darkness; Light a candle.
• I'm perfectly imperfect.
• Live and let live.
• There’s a blessing of a lesson in every problem.
• The greatest of all faults is to tell yourself that you have none.
• Be as passionate about the program as you were about the drugs.
• Recovery is a lifestyle, not a turnstile.
• The program steps and tools are suggested; we also suggest that you don’t jump from an airplane without a
• Keep coming back, it works if you work it and work it ‘cause you’re worth it.
• Circumstances do not MAKE us who we are, they REVEAL to us who we are.
• Too blessed to be stressed!
• Don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens!
• Just for today, I can be clean.
• Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer.
• The road to recovery is a simple journey for confused people with a complicated disease.
• Have a good day, unless of course you have made other plans.
• Perfectionism is the purest form of self-abuse.
• The world record for abstinence? 24 hours
• Make use of the telephone therapy.
• I don’t have an addiction problem; I have a thinking problem!
• Always remember your last binge.
• Be yourself today, so the rest of us can relish in your unique magnificence!
• You can DO what you want, or you can GET what you want.
• I have met wisdom and I have met kindness, and kindness is better.
• Comparison is the shortest route to insanity.
• Compared to me, I am spectacular.
• If your butt’s in the chair, you're in recovery.
• Forgive easily - as if your life depends on it.
• Call your sponsor before, not after, you use.
• To keep it, you have to give it away.
• Thankfulness is passive; Gratitude is active.
• Powerless does not mean helpless or hopeless.
• “What if” gets you nowhere, “Yeah but” halts progress in its tracks, “If only” never came true.
• My best thinking got me here.
• Trust God, clean house, help another addict.
• Help is only a phone call away.
• Pray for those who hurt you; they need the prayers and we need the practice.
• Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
• One is too many, a thousand never enough.
• Half measures availed us nothing.
• You did not become an addict over-night. Easy does it.
• We will love you until you can love yourself.
• An unwillingness to forgive is a form of self-abuse.
• Before engaging your mouth, put your mind in gear.
• Addiction has a beginning and an ending; recovery has no end.
• Recovery is not something you join; it's something you live.
• We can be positive that our addiction was negative.
• Take the mess to your sponsor; take the message to the meeting.
• Acceptance is vital. It is what it is!
• Sorrow is looking back; worry is looking around; hope is looking forward.
• Willpower= Willingness to use a Higher Power.
• Recovery is an education with no final exam and no graduation.
• Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.
• Unity does not mean uniformity.
• G.O.D. = Good Orderly Direction. E.G.O. = Edging God Out.
• Our disease is mind altering, but so is our recovery.
• Recovery adds years to your life and life to your years.
• Humility is acceptance of ourselves and others, good and bad.
• Using does not drown our problems, it irrigates them.
• Co-incidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.
• Keep your recovery first to make it last.
• Recovery is a school in which we are all learners and all teachers.
• God teach us to laugh again, but please don't let us forget that we once cried.
• Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace amid the storm.
• It isn't the load that weighs us down; it's the way we carry it.
• When you do all the talking you only learn what you already know.
• I might have another binge left in me, but I might not have another recovery.
• When we surrender to our Higher Power, the journey begins.
• The person with the most clean-time at a meeting is the one who got up earliest.
• H.A.L.T. = Don't get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. (or bored!)
• F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real.
• Plan for tomorrow, but live for today.
• Getting something you've never had requires doing something you've never done.
• Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen.
• When a person tries to control their addiction they have already lost control.
• The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
• S L I P = Serenity Losing its Priority.
• You are not required to like it; you are only required to DO it.
• Many things can be preserved in alcohol; but dignity is not one of them.
• You can't think your way into a new way of living; you have to live your way into a new way of thinking.
• Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
• We came to recovery to save our butt, and found out our soul was attached.
• People who don't go to meetings don't hear about what happens to people who don't go to meetings.
• Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today.
• Abstinence is a state of mind, “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery.”
• Nobody ever found recovery as a result of an intellectual awakening.
• We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; we are spiritual beings having human experiences.
• Seriously, don’t take yourself too seriously.
• The time to attend a meeting is when you least feel like going.
• The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.
• Time wasted in getting even can never be used in getting ahead.
• Some recoverees are so successful that they turn out to be almost as good as they used to think they were.
• Recovery delivers everything that addiction promised.
• Being 'willing' to do something is not the same as 'wanting' to.
• First we stay abstinent because we have to, then because we are willing to and finally because we want to.
• If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.
• Every recovery from addiction began with one abstinent hour.
• The only thing that I need to know about God is that I'm not it.
• Faith is our greatest gift; it’s sharing with others our greatest responsibility.
• My worst day in abstinence is better than my best day of addiction.
• Religion is for those who fear Hell; Spirituality is for those who have been there.
• Intolerance = Contempt, prior to investigation.
• The smartest thing an addict can say is, “Help”.
• Just for today I will not tackle my whole life problems at once.
• It is not the experience of today that drives people mad, it is remorse of yesterday and the dread of
• Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.
• There is no magic in recovery, only miracles.
• You cannot be grateful and resentful at the same time.
• If I have a problem and use over it, I have two problems.
• FAITH: Fantastic Adventure in Trusting Higher Power.
• Success means getting your ‘but’ out of the way.
• The addicts mind is a dangerous neighbourhood; don’t go in there alone.
• Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond your imperfections.
• Short version of the Serenity Prayer: Fix it or forget it.
• Fake it till you make it.
• Don’t let unpleasant people rent space in your head.
• Try it for 90 days, and if you don’t like it, we’ll gladly refund your misery.
• Go to meetings when you want to, and go to meetings when you don’t want to.
• We have a disease that tells us we don’t have a disease.
• My daily recovery is contingent on my spiritual condition.
• Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, only today is cash in the bank.
• If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
• Using is committing suicide in instalments.
• I don’t always know what God’s will is for me, but I always know what it’s not
• I didn’t experiment with addiction. I was in advanced research and development.
• I love you, God loves you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
• If God is your co-pilot, switch seats.
• There are three kinds of business: my business, God’s business and none of my business.
• If your head falls off, put it in a paper bag and take it to a meeting.
• You can’t speed up your recovery, but you can sure slow it down.
• Using got me here. Not using keeps me here.
• What others think of me is none of my business.
• Keep your head where your feet are.
• If nothing changes, nothing changes.
• You must be present to win.
• Glance at the past, but don’t stare at it.
• Today is the tomorrow that I worried about yesterday.
• When you feel left out, reach out.
• Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
• Even if I'm on the right track, if I don't move I'll get run over.
• Feel, Deal and Heal - Feel it, Deal with it and Heal from it.
• Thoughts are not things and feelings are not facts; they only have the power we give them.
• No matter how far off the path we've stumbled, we're always 12 steps from the solution.
• If you keep doing what you’re doing, you'll keep getting what you’re getting.
• BINGE – Because I’ve Never Been Good Enough.
• 12 Step is not a ticket to heaven or hell, but it will give you the clarity to make up your own mind which way
you want to go.
• Sponsors: have one --- use one --- be one.
• Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?
• If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
• Learn to listen and listen to learn.
• Is your program powered by Will Power or Higher Power?
• I may not be who I want to be, but thank God I'm not who I used to be.
• Dwell on the problem and the problem gets bigger. Dwell on the solution, the solution gets bigger.
• I do not recover today on yesterday’s actions.
• If I make using an option, it will be the only option.
• A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.
• Don't intellectualize - utilize.
• Fear: I might not get my way.
Anger: I am not getting my way.
Resentment: I did not get my way.
• Do the stuff to get the stuff.
• Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening.