Where Do You Come From? And Why Here

About this time of year we usually take a look at where our clients come from along with other demographics. We also have a pretty good idea about why you chose to work with us.

First, where do you come from?

As far as political differences across the U.S., you predominantly come from the so-called “Blue” states. No particular mystery there given that the people we work with are generally well educated, intelligent, successful, socially conscious, not easily duped, averse to cults, and appropriately mature emotionally and psychologically. In short, you aren’t ignorant, bigoted, racist, sexist, zealots or driven by greed.

Yes, we get “Red” state clients, but they tend to be the Outliers who share their Blue state peers’ values, standards, and ethics.

You also take responsibility for your choices and the consequences and, more importantly, responsibility for correcting your predicament. You aren’t expecting pixy dust or other magic as we noted last week.

So much for the U.S. though clients from wherever share most of the same traits.

Geographically, Canadians tend to arrive from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario with a smattering from the Yukon.

Then there are the clients who arrive from everywhere else – though “everywhere else” is heavily loaded towards the other old British Commonwealth countries beginning with England and including India, New Zealand, and Australia. But there are also those of you from South Africa, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and, most recently, a visitor from Iceland (perhaps encouraged by Mary Ellen’s two recent visits there).

So why do people from all of these places find themselves settling into comfortable chairs in our unpretentious offices across the conference table from Mary Ellen and me?

As usual, two considerations top the list: privacy and efficacy.

Most “programs” require you to disappear for 30, 60, or even 90 days even though there is no evidence that doing so is correlated to successful outcomes. It is correlated to ratting yourself out to everyone that you have a problem and have “gone off to treatment.” Not a notation any professional will want on their resume. Indeed, such a label is career ending for most licensed professionals and those with security clearances. That is, after all, why most of you have avoided getting help.

Second, obviously, if you are smart, discerning, and want effectiveness along with your anonymity then you will have found our mix of CBT, assertiveness training, diet, exercise, Naltrexone support, experience, habit reformation, and other tailored components to be what you want and need.

And hence the answer as to who and why. So wherever you live, no one will question a week’s “vacation” in southern California. Come and see us. Fix the problem. Stop looking over your shoulder.

“So What Have You Been Doing About the Problem?”

That’s pretty much the first question we ask on Monday morning. After all, there’s no point in recycling what you know hasn’t worked. This isn’t “rehab” or AA where the only answer is more: more meetings; more months; more groups; more of the same old failed methods and activities that have been failing for nearly a century.

From the women we usually hear some variation on, “I’ve been seeing my therapist for…..” x number of months or years. To which we note that talking is good but it needs to be followed by actually doing something. This is too often met with a mystified look. Women, more than men, are prone to fall into the “talking about is doing something about” trap. That’s the reason Alanon is almost exclusively a women’s organization.

Not that men come off any better. Here we get the blank look that underlies, “What? Do something?” Dig a bit and we discover that the man has been doing stuff. All kinds of crazy things that addressed nothing and only exacerbated his drinking.

Both, like the Alanon people, are avoiding addressing the medicated issues. Some ease their conscience with a weekly fix of therapy that can last forever or until the therapist’s youngest child is out of college. Others keep running hoping that reality won’t catch up. “Never look back,” Satchel Paige advised, “something might be gaining on you.”

Nor, I hasten to add, are these strategies always gender specific. A local woman spends 12+ hours a day literally running around the peninsula. A former colleague of mine has spent the past 35 years in weekly sessions with his psychoanalyst, assured that they are about to make a breakthrough.

All of this comes down to addressing, not avoiding, and we all tend to prefer to defer addressing until “the pain of our current circumstances overrides our fear of the unknown future that change promises.” The “security of familiar miseries” keeps us stuck.

But the assumption we all make, given our brain’s negative bias and averseness to risk, is that change will be worse than what we have. Really? Almost regardless of the situation you are medicating, considered and implemented change will almost always result in a much better life. And if it doesn’t? Nothing is stopping you from making an informed decisions to return to drinking.

But let’s be sure that that’s an informed decision with a real comparison. Stop guessing, assuming and supposing. Find out. That’s what we’re here to help you do. Dip in a toe and give us a call. We won’t even ask your name.