In last week’s newsletter we mentioned how much we appreciated working with our clients. Now last week’s couple have generously offered to share their thoughts with you, too.

An Inspiring Week, A Revolutionary Approach

By Carl and Nicole
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Imagine yourself at a center for dealing with alcohol abuse. And imagine–really imagine it if you can– that the week is wonderfully inspiring. Imagine that the week is filled with laughter, joy and lots of humor. Imagine feeling pampered, perhaps as if you where at a California health spa or golf course. And imagine that you tackle some very good “hard work” with the active engagement of tremendously dedicated and experienced coaches–but that ninety-five percent of the week is NOT on the topic of alcohol or alcohol abuse! On top of all that imagine that a confident pathway is designed, creating a life filled with health-generating practices and pleasures that make excessive drinking irrelevant and simply not needed.

Nicole and I have just finished a wonderful week with Ed Wilson and Mary Ellen Barnes–and it was a total surprise. On the surface there wasn’t anything surprising, for example, there was the everyday schedule of meetings all morning and then afternoons free for whatever we wanted (we went to a world class golf course, coastal walks and a health spa). But deep down the whole experience was completely different from that of a treatment center, or a program in the AA tradition. Not once was I treated as if I had a life-long disease. Not once was I “diagnosed” for my failures. Not once was there the instillation of fear and threat or the mantra (one that our society teaches) that “this is a life-long problem” or something that you will have to always keep at bay. Instead there was a radically different approach.

What was it? Well it was a combination of things. Yes there was hard and honest reflection. It was a luxury really, a week where two amazing coaches devoted intense focus on my total life space and context. It was a week where we identified visions of health, assets and strengths, and looked at life as a whole. It was a week where Nicole and I were helped, not alone but together, to forge a shared vision of an exciting, healthy future. It was a precious week where Nicole and I deepened our 30 year friendship, marriage, and our love. And it was a week where I came away with real hope and a new calm. It’s hard to explain but it’s true. Nicole and I “high-fived” it after our final session. We were proud of our work. And we left with a feeling of gratitude. It may have been luck that we stumbled upon this revolutionary approach. But I don’t think so.


Mary Ellen and I couldn’t hope to find a better example of what can be accomplished when we’re all on the same page, pursuing the same goals.

What sort of outcome are you looking for? Hoping for?

Your Family

Eighteen months ago we wrote an article for parents struggling with adult alcohol abusing children . We have rarely written a more widely read article with reprint requests coming from as far away as Australia.

We’ve also gotten calls about what help is available. The truth is, not much.

You can call an interventionist but their only interest is in getting someone to agree to go to treatment. That’s a waste of money when treatment usually doesn’t work and leaves everyone in the family more angry and frustrated – and considerably poorer – than they were before.

Treatment fails because the alcohol abuse is seen as a “disease” rather than as a destructive behavior existing in a context. If the context doesn’t change, the behavior isn’t apt to either.

Traditional treatment usually makes the on-going problems worse by excluding spouses or other family members so none of the context ever gets addressed. Simply put – alcohol abuse doesn’t occur in isolation and it doesn’t get cured that way either.

Even on those occasions when treatment appears to work, the “cure” can be worse than the “disease” as the popularity of our second most widely read article, “Great, He Quit Drinking – When Will He Recover?” indicates.

Whether you are the person struggling with alcohol abuse, or the spouse, or parent, you need to look for help that includes the people who are most closely involved.

No one makes a significant behavior change without the people closest to them also making some adjustments. With good well and guidance this can be accomplished with a minimum of hurt, anger, and failure. Otherwise, the same old patterns continue to be played out and the same problems resurface.

It’s why we do inclusive work with couples and families. It’s another way in which we differ from every other program, and it’s why our clients achieve outcomes like those Carl and Nicole describe.

As Carl noted, it’s no accident that he and Nicole achieved the results they did, working with us, nor is it an accident that brought a couple all the way from Australia this week to work with us and their adult daughter to solve her alcohol abuse problem.

Tools We Use

We see that many of you have downloaded our popular three piece tool kit: Cost Benefit Analysis; Long Term Goal Planner; and Weekly Planner. All three are still available for you at:

Resources For You!

All three work best when you refer to them frequently; update them often; and focus on positives!!!! Don’t sabotage yourself (or let anyone else do you in either). Forget about being “diseased” and “powerless”.

The EOC Institute relaxation CDs continue to be a good and popular alternative to alcohol for a quick, handy, and effective way to temporarily relieve anxiety and relax. We don’t endorse all of the Institute’s claims, but we do use the CDs to quiet those anxiety attacks that intrude into our lives.

You can find them and other resources on our website at:

Alcohol Treatment: Organizations and Resources.

And a final resource – you can call us!! One of us answers the phone personally 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., California time, Monday – Friday, unless we are with clients.

Even on the weekends, Friday – Sunday, we’re normally available from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

We think you deserve our personal and professional attention so there’re no answering services, volunteers, “lifers” or other intermediaries. If we don’t answer, leave a message. We’ll usually be able to get back to you within an hour.

So please don’t hesitate to call. No cost. No hype. No sales pitch. No pat answers. No sure-fire “program.” Just a consultation about your particular situation, options, and the very real possibility of complete, permanent recovery.