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Friday, March 14, 2014


One of the most successful counseling models around is Cognative Behavioral Therapy, or CBT.  Here's a short article from the BBC on it-
There are plenty of people I know who have gotten a lot out of it and, while it is no magic bullet for severe cases of addiction, it holds the potential to deal with many of the contributing factors.   This popped up during my research on brain plasticity
If you are wondering why I have not posted for a few days, here's a list of things going on-
Construction at the church
Sick wife
Parish duties
Mysterious computer problems leading to three trips to the tech dude
More Lent
Construction at my house
Dealing with a contractor who screwed up
Dealing with a child's learning issues (too bad I can't just let him run around with a BB gun all day, which is mostly what he needs)
Research for my presentation on pornography, which is taking some really odd turns
Did I mention Lent?
Writer's block, which is a clear sign of stress
That's a partial list.  Gee, I wonder why I am stressed?  Am I getting weak?
Anyway, these things shall all pass, and some of them already have or are packing their bags.
Back to CBT: I do think that most self-identified addicts would get as much help from CBT as they would a 12 Step group, mostly because modern society is so distorted that we need help finding normal.  Of course, this pre-supposes that the CBT therapist you are going to has the kind of 'normal' you are looking for.  Make sure to pop the hood and ask lots of questions before you sign up with any therapist.  There are some real nut-jobs out there.
The same is true of clergy, and this is why in the traditional Orthodox setting, church life is usually not centered on the priest, but the Church.  These days in America, we tend to make the church all about the priest, who has to 'recruit' and 'retain' 'members.'  This is why the 'successful' priests end up with all kinds of ego temptations, and many of them fall.
While no Christian should be ashamed of getting help, woe to the priest who lets it be known that he needs help.  You may be surprised how judgmental people can be towards someone they call 'father.'  But, given how little respect most American fathers get these days, it is little wonder.
Changing attitudes starts with ourselves.


  1. That's a lot of spinning plates! You're doing God's work, stay strong and don't let the stress grind you down.

    Another great post here. I'd also like to turn your attention to the ACT therapeutic modality. CBT didn't do a thing for me, but ACT helped me lots. Why that is is anybody's guess, but here's my take: CBT is a very "rational" modality, it's designed to strip out the irrational psychological deadweight that's dragging you down and replace it with rational (sane) thinking. Trouble is, I'm hyper-rational to begin with -- so for me, CBT was like sending a guy with huge arms and chicken legs into the gym 6 days a week to do curls. It wasn't correcting the imbalance, if anything it was exacerbating it.

    ACT, on the other hand, is a-rational -- not irrational, it just transcends questions of rational and irrational. A big part of ACT is connecting with your values, which ultimately requires connecting with your intuition. In a sense, ACT is in large part about beefing up your intuition. And I desperately needed that -- I was horrifically lopsided psychologically, and continuing with the analogy above, it was like sending Mr. Chicken Legs to the gym to do squats every week day.

    I actually had a CBT therapist, and he was, in retrospect, a weirdo. But he did recommend a CBT based anxiety workbook, which had a recommendation to look into ACT at the end. I spent months working through that entire CBT workbook and going to therapy -- nothing. Then I got a self-help ACT book based on the recommendation from the CBT workbook. I spent another few months going through that ACT book, and it made a tremendous improvement.

    Just tossing that out there, I don't want to pit CBT vs ACT vs LMNOP or whatever else is out there, just wanted to share something that helped me in case it might help others. I'll pray for your strength over this inevitably busy lenten season. Finding this blog was a critical step on my journey to sobriety, I can't thank you enough for it.

    1. Thanks for this. Are you familiar with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

    2. I never heard of ACT so I googled it. Mindfulness is the first part, which I also heavily rely upon initially in working with clients. It can/does contain an element of CBT in it from the Australian website I looked at. But AODA clients can have difficulty with mindfulness since it requires "openness" which sometimes is in very short supply in this treatment population. Glad this worked out for you. I suspect you didn't have a previously good experience with CBT because it was applied improperly. CBT doesn't mean that one continues to "over rationalize", at an even more unhealthy rate. Good CBT should help the individual let go of unprofitable over thinking and replace it with a more reasonable, less perfectionistic acceptance, also a part of ACT as described on this website.

    3. Fr. George, my familiarity with DBT consists of knowing that (a) it exists and (b) it's apparently useful for people with BPD.

  2. Hey, gents, what do you say about writing a short introduction to your therapy model of choice and how they relate to recovery issues? This would be really informative and helpful in people seeking help. Please consider... I don't know that much about professional counseling (perhaps it shows!).

    1. I don't know much about professional counseling either but I'm happy to share my experience with ACT. How should I deliver it to you, and any guidelines, e.g. length, etc?

    2. Email me and we'll chat off-line.