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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trauma and the Twelve Steps: A Complete Guide To Enhancing Recovery ... Book Review



Book Reviewer . 12 step recovery . traumatic stress . trauma survivors . Bosnia - Hercegovina . Sponsors . Storytelling . Writing . Dancing . Relationships . Coping Skills . Prayer . Therapy

This book shares on pros and cons on 12 Steps Programs. A real eye opener.
This is not a Christian book for it shares on a copy of non Christian values as far as I am concerned, but it could be studied and looked at by strong Christian communities.
It is also a book worth looking at for families to see what your loves ones might be exposed too.

No two cases will be the same.

This book does not intend to be diagnostic in any way and is not a substitute for a thorough clinical assessment. If you are at medical risk of withdrawal or in a serious mental state of mind that could harm yourself or others (e.g., suicidal or homicidal intentions), you are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately.

The purpose of this book is to show professionals, sponsors, and recovering individuals how to continue using traditional twelve-step recovery philosophies in a manner that honors what the psychotherapeutic professions have learned about traumatic stress. This book also explains how rigid application of twelve-step principles can do more harm than good for a traumatized person and how learning some simple accomodations based on the latest knowledge of traumatic stress can enhance the twelve-step recovery experience for trauma survivors.

My suggestion and request that I would like to see the professional community look at two books below: I am getting this resource from a January 3, 1957 Book "The Life and Times of Jesus" and this book was studied at a HBUC in 1957.

1. Is the hospital/therapy a continuation of Jesus' ministry?

2. A Religion in Illness and in Health: New York: Harper & Bros., 1942. Wise, Carroll A.

3. The Art of Ministering to the Sick. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1934.




You may have one twelve-step recovery group that is sensitive to its members talking about addictions or conditions, such as mental health concerns and trauma (van der Kolk, McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 2007).

Jamie's hope is that, her voice as a recovering individual will come through most strongly, even though she used her professional knowledge to justify the ideas in this book. There is an old, Chinese proverb to describe trauma and its effects: "Once you've been bitten by a snake, you're afraid even of a piece of coiled rope."

Her bachelors's degrees are in American studies. Her first major job following graduation was for a Catholic parish in postwar Bosnia-Hercegovina, primarily as an English teacher and language editor. While serving in this area, she became aware of trauma's impact on human development. Her pupils were primarily children and young adults who lived at a parish-run childrens' home. The region was transitioning from decades experiencing the aftermath of a major civil war. This experience during the two and a half years she spent in the country impacted her so much that she left her English teaching days behind, returned to the states, and began a master's degree program in counseling.

As many traumatized addicts have discovered, alcohol use, drug use, food, sex, or other reinforcing activities are particularly effective at killing the pain.

All you have to do is go on the Internet to find a host of people who have blogged about, video-taped, or posted about negative experiences in Alcoholic Anonymous, other twelve-step fellowships, and even alternative programs. People who have had negative experiences in recovery programs are often quick to label them "cultish."

Not everyone who walks through the doors of recovery group has a positive experience. In her practice, clients have shared with her experiences such as, from going to a first meeting and feeling preached at or belittled, to experiences as horrible as being raped in the parking lot following a meeting by a member of a recovery fellowship. Some stories shared with her from some of her clients range from negative experiences with sponsorship, ranging from militaristic sponsors who use belittling tactics, to unethical sponsors who ended up cheating with the wives of sponsees. Such experiences have costed some people to write off recovery programs completely.

Most newcomers who come to recovery fellowship with unresolved trauma more often experience harm than help, especially in the long run, by such an approach.

Even though it is unrealistic to expect a perfect sense of safety at every twelve-step recovery meetings, some simple things that might promote it often go unnoticed. She have absolutely no place for the public shaming that often goes on in many recovery meetings, be they twelve-step or alternative meetings.

Solid sponsorship can make all the difference between whether or not a person, especially a traumatized person, sticks around and gives a recovery program a chance to work. Another major area of offense that happens a lot in twelve-step recovery fellowships, an offense that clearly violates the notion of safety, is when sponsors attempt to work too far outside their scope of experience. More dangerously, they will advise a person with mental health concerns to go off of his or her psychotropic medications because all they need is to work the twelve steps. She has seen this cause more harm than good to countless people who have taken this advice literally.

When she first sought out recovery, she had no problem admitting that she was an addict, but she couldn't quite accept that she was an alcoholic. In the Bosnia town where she lived at that time, there were only AA meetings.


Solid sponsorship can make all the difference between whether or not a person, especially a traumatized person, sticks around and gives a recovery program a chance to work. Another major area of offense that happens a lot in twelve-step recovery fellowships, an offense that clearly violates the notion of safety, is when sponsors attempt to work too far outside their scope of experience. More dangerously, they will advise a person with mental health concerns to go off his or her psychotropic medications because all they need is to work the twelve steps. She has seen this cause more harm that good to countless people who have taken this advice literally.

When she first sought out recovery, she had no problem admitting that she was an addict, but she couldn't quite accept that she was an alcoholic. In the Bosnia town where she lived at that time, they were only AA meetings. Her sponsor, Janet told her to come to the meetings and if she heard the word alcohol, just replace it with drugs ... "it's all gonna, be fatal anyway if you continue." By Janet not preaching to Dr. Marich from the onset, she was able to go to meetings with an open mind, and it eventually clicked in her stubborn brain that she was both a drug addict and alcoholic.

Another powerful way that Janet helped to meet her where she was at on the road to recovery was by demonstrating a clear understanding of her past and how it affected her. The sensitive combination of acceptance and challenge helped her work through her issue of both addiction recovery and unresolved trauma in those early days when hearing one wrong thing could have turned her off to recovery forever.

Janet didn't spoon-feed her recovery; she let her hit some road bumps along the way and reminded her that she was there for her when she was ready to take suggestions.

Janet was knowledgeable about what the fields of psychology, science, and medicine have learned about addiction. This meant she understood the realities of traumatic stress and how it can get in the way of learning new ways of living and embracing recovery. Her knowledge about addiction as a brain disease and the phenomena of cravings also informed her that it's futile to get hung up on one specific drug as a prerequiste to attend and to benefit from meetings.

You do not have to be a social worker or drug and alcohol counselor to be an exemplary twelve-step sponsor or mentor/leader in another type of recovery program. To be a trauma-sensitive professional or sponsor, recovery program leader, you need to honor certain principles: safety and flexibility. Meeting people where they are at is a principle so many professionals and sponsors like Janet already practice. However, the logic of it still needs to be more widely practiced in modern recovery so that traumatized people are not alienated as a result of being retraumatized by rigid professionals, sponsors, or community members.

One of the classic recovery tools is using the phone.

It is a fantastic, ultimate goal for people in recovery from both trauma and addiction to begin operating more with their rational minds and less with their emotional minds.

The physical steps required to pick up a telephone and reach out are classic examples of action-based steps that can aid in recovery.

Going to meetings. The act of committing to sit for an hour is practicing, or putting into action, the skills of patience and self-care, to Dr. Marich.

Reach out to others. If you are working with newcomers, emphasize the importance of small steps. Going around and shaking people's hands at meetings, even if they aren't making meaningful connections, is an action step.

Prayer and other spiritual exercises. Now by me being a Christian, I will share a few Scriptures on prayer: Genesis 15:15; Psalm/Tehillim 34:12-14,20; Luke 8:2 and Mark 7:24-30. And I realize that no two conditions are the same, and at times some might have to be on medication if not in an institution for various reasons.

Dr. Marich shares that even if there are no experiences of spiritual connection, talking action can serve as powerful coping mechanisms to get through difficult moments, or, when performed over time, can serve a function in helping them to develop new, more positive habits.

Dr. Marich shares about the "God box" as a spiritual technique. I would recommend this for Christians to look at seriously.

And at times from what I have studied in Sunday School forgiveness must take place.

Recovery people simply get an old shoebox, jar, or other container and put it in a special place, designating it as their "God box." Whenever a problem or issue cannot stop swirling around in their heads, they get out a piece of paper and write down what's bothering them. For many, the act of writing it down and "getting it out" is a key part of the healing; again, an action-oriented step.

I have said in Sunday School when making a comment "You can't treat God like a part-time lover" and keep expecting results.

Whether it's jotting down a simple statement and placing it in a God box or something out their soul into an entire novel, writing provides a means of emotional release for many people in recovery.

Dr. Marich tell her clients that after they write a journal entry, they have every right to rip it up ... this can be a process of working out the stress. This writing can include obsessions, emotional angst, resentments, past memories, or simply a list of stressors that may just need to come out visibly on paper.

Some even leave unsent letters at a cemetery. The options are endless, it is the physical processes involved with these activities that powerfully activate the brain to help with the overall sense of release.

Dr. Marich made a geographical move to receive her cure at that time, to the hills in Bosnia-Hercegovina humanitarian aid trailer that would become her treatment center. She learned that relationship heals. She told Janet that she believed she had a problem with chemicals. It was in that trailer that she explained to her the disease of addiction and the implications for treating it, and it was in that trailer that they met on an almost biweekly basis, engaging in the healing process that would become the basis of her own recovery.

There is a misconception that to begin healing from the wounds of addiction and trauma, a person needs sophiscated treatment.

A simple smile that we give to the person we're working with as they share something with us may strike us a insignificant, but it might be powerfully healing to the client.

Forging a strong therapeutic alliance does not mean that you have to be your client's best friend. Dr. Marich's view of a solid working alliance is that the person you are working with trusts you, can relate to you, believes that you relate to her, and trusts that the work you are doing together is helping her get well.

In the spirit of growth and development as empathetic counselors, it is also important to remember that, as helpers, they are not solely responsible for helping a client get sober and well.

The term support system often describes the people surrounding a person who literally support recovery of a person and have their best interest at heart.

Recovery capital is the "quality and quantity of internal and external resources that one can bring to bear on the initiation and maintenance of recovery" (Grandfield & Cloud, 199; White & Kutrz, 2006, p. 9). Recovery capital can include a support group, twelve-step meetings, a sponsor, a Church group, a job, hobbies, supportive family, motivation, and a place to live - essentially, whatever the person has going for him or her.

Depending on resources available in the community or certain benefits allowed with state-appropriated services (e.g., Medicaid) many clients can access separate case management services in addition to accessing traditional therapy.

Wise folks throughout the centuries were helping people process trauma long before professional psychotherapy even existed. Though Dr. Marich is not advocating that lay people, or even therapists, engage in any special interventions that she have listed without proper training. Proceed with caution.

In certain African cultures, speaking about the exact details of a trauma is taboo, yet using allegory-specifically animals as characters-is more than acceptable manner of telling the story for the purpose of catharsis.

Songwriting and other performance elements, like dance and the visual arts, are other outstanding ways to tell the story for the purposes of resolution.

Even King David danced.

One of Dr. Marich's dearest support figures in recovery, a wise woman name Denise, often tells her, "Jamie, addiction is one disease where, in recovery, we choose how well we want to get."

One time, early in Dr. Marich recovery, she was sharing her healing ventures with her brother Paul: going to meetings, going to therapy, going to Church, going for massage, writing music, and performing it with her partner. He jokingly said, "It takes a village to help my sister." It is a true observation-one that she feels has helped her to thrive.

I believe it was Cornersburg Media that sent me a copy of this book for review. I review books for publishing companies, marketing departments, authors, publicists, ministries and businesses.

Dr. Jamie Marich travels the country training and helping professionals on a variety of topics related to trauma and addiction while still maintaining a trauma-focused private practice at PsyCare, Inc. in Youngstown, Ohio. Jamie began her career in social services while working in humanitarian aid after the Bosnia war. Jamie is a contributing faculty member with several universities, and she is also involved in the performing and healing arts as a recording singer-songwriter and conscious dance facilitator. She is an award-winning researcher and contributor to peer reviewed publications.