Generalizing From Yourself

There is no bigger error that any of us can make than to “generalize from ourselves.”

We all tend to do this, at least occasionally, even when we know better. But in the world of alcohol abuse and treatment it’s especially prevalent. It’s why 12 Step zealots are adamant that “if you will only work the Steps it will work for you too!” Of course this is utter nonsense since AA works for less than 5% of the people who try it and as Miller and Hester’s review of the research notes, there are at least 30+ approaches that work better for most people than joining AA. (See Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works)

That’s one of the many reasons why we work with individuals – what will work for you won’t look exactly like what will work for someone else. Whatever conditions you are medicating aren’t going to respond to the same solutions that will apply to another client.

As obvious as this should be, commercial rehab continues to supply 12 Step “solutions” with a few ineffectual token frills – equine therapy, wolf/dog therapy, heliotherapy, etc. – which are designed to sell you the illusion that you are actually getting something for your money. Toss in the magic of the palms, beaches, vortexes, personal assistants, and mountain views and how could you possibly fail?


After all, in return for $35,000 – $200,000 you are still only getting something that’s available to you for free at an AA meeting near you. If you are, in fact, one of the rare people it “works” for, you don’t need to pay for it. If it doesn’t, paying for it makes it even less “successful.”

Since we aren’t operating from the one-size-fits-all model, we are free to listen to you, discover what your actual conditions are. Next we can sort out your strengths, interests, and motivations. Having done that, undisturbed by other clients’ needs, or a cookie-cutter mentality, we are free to custom design a mosaic of solutions unique to your circumstances, preferences, abilities, and needs.

Yes, that means we can only work with one new client a week. Yes, that means you may have to wait a few weeks for an open slot. But it also means you get both Dr. Barnes and my undivided attention and we have a vested interest in your success. We don’t need to generalize from anyone, including ourselves, and are therefore free to rely on you and your best interests.

All of This and Not a Shred of Discomfort!!!!

At least that’s what “they” promise you. Yeppers, somehow you can relax on the beaches at Malibu and somehow, magically, the problem will go away! Wow!

Not only that, but when you return home – problem solved – there won’t be any discomfort for anyone else either. Everything will be just like it was except you won’t drink!

And if you believe that…..

As you well know, change always involves some discomfort. Move to England and you’re going to be uncomfortable driving from the “wrong” seat on the “wrong” side of the road. That’s a big one. But even something as small as moving into a new house means establishing new routines.

And then there’s the other part – effort. Change takes effort. You have to think about what you’re going to do about whatever you always just medicated, and then you’re actually going to have to do the thing that actually address the problems.

This isn’t meant to scare you away from fixing your life. Just the opposite. But we do want you to realize that change does take some effort – not an overwhelming amount – and just as your drinking effects those around you, so will not drinking. After all, if you have been passively drinking and now you’re becoming assertive that is going to change the dynamics of your relationships.

But as ex-smokers quickly learn, the short term discomfort is fairly quickly replaced by how much better you feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Your self-esteem will rise as your depression lifts and you realize that you really do have the power to make substantial improvements in your life.

Once you clear all of the mythology away, recognize that you aren’t a “powerless, diseased, loser” only fit for the mindless regimen of a life-long cult… Well how do you suppose that feels? As I and hundreds of our former clients can tell you, “Pretty damn good!”

See you next month?