This short article was written by a recent client who came to our 5-Day Intensive program. His wife accompanied him and was an active participant in the program. – Mary Ellen Barnes, Ph.D.

by Carl and Nicole of Minneapolis Minnesota

Imagine yourself at a center for dealing with alcohol abuse. And imagine – really imagine 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 years 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.