Dr. Hal’s Blog

This is a selection of the most recent blog posts by Dr. Hal. These posts were originally published at blog.journeytorecovery.com. Visit that site to read older posts.

A Quick and Easy Recovery and Other Treatment Myths

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

A Quick and Easy Recovery and Other Treatment Myths

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw Let’s Be Reasonable The confusing influence of addiction is often referred to as “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” It distorts insight into the illness, decreases judgment, and twists expectations about life in recovery. Setting reasonable expectations means wrestling with the uncontrollable, the doubtful, and the difficult. I can’t always control, fix, or bend the uncertainties of life to meet my desires. And I must...

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The True View of You

Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

The True View of You

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt People in recovery often have a distorted view of themselves. They may see themselves as inadequate and unacceptable. Some of this thinking comes from a cold and steady drizzle of negativity dripped onto you by the harsh realities of a difficult life. This pessimistic message may also be presented by those you love the most. As I talk with clients coming through the counseling center I have heard hundreds of variations of this story. The people from whom they wanted...

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Normal Will Reset – Eventually

Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Normal Will Reset – Eventually

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Commonly Attributed to Winston Churchill Out of Control When the decision to enter recovery is made, the addiction is often out of control. Something has to change or nothing will change. Life has become unmanageable and there are problems that affect numerous areas of living. There may be occupational problems, relational conflicts, housing concerns, legal issues, and spiritual dryness. Common emotional problems include increased levels of depression, guilt, shame, regret, anxiety, worry,...

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Three Critical Elements of Successful Recovery Programs

Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Three Critical Elements of Successful Recovery Programs

“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.” – Hubert H. Humphrey Designing Successful Recovery I am involved in several intensive outpatient programs (IOP) that provide treatment and support for those with serious or critical mental health and substance abuse issues. These programs help our clients regain stability and develop skills to better navigate the journey in life that lies ahead. Those who are in crisis, considering mental health inpatient treatment or residential treatment for substance abuse, or recently...

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The Hinge Pin Lie Behind All Negative Thinking

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

The Hinge Pin Lie Behind All Negative Thinking

“I was going to buy a copy of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and then I thought: what good would that do?” – Ronnie Shakes What is Negative Thinking? Thoughts bombard us all day long like the steady stream of uninteresting commercial messages on AM radio. Almost all radio spots are just noise, irrelevant and unimportant. The same is true with our own thoughts. A few of these thoughts are prompts for action, interesting points to be pondered, and encouraging messages to heed. But most are not. Most of what whirls through the...

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Creating Half-Time Strategies for Recovery

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Creating Half-Time Strategies for Recovery

“Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.” Paul Bryant In the sport of football, each game has four quarters with a 12 minute break between the two halves. This break has the not-so-clever, intuitively obvious name of half-time. This mid-game break serves several purposes including rest for the players, a concession break for the attendees, a commercial break for television, and an opportunity to summarize or highlight controversial and key plays of the game. Additionally, it is an opportunity for the coach and...

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Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine

There is an old proverb that says: “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” I grew up on a small family farm in Minnesota in the 1960’s. We had the usual assortment of amusing farm animals including cows, chickens, horses, cats, dogs, and of course pigs. I wouldn’t say that the whole of my psychology of people has its foundational roots in the care of farm animals, but it has offered several useful nuggets including insights about pigs and pearls. Pigs are fully focused on their own customs and habits which generally includes eating and looking...

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Keep Your Goal, But Change Your Tactics

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Keep Your Goal, But Change Your Tactics

A man came into my office some years back and his abrasive interactions with his wife, in my presence, caused me to ponder the reasons behind his aggressive and painfully degrading verbal comments. Communication is purposeful; meaning when someone is angry or aggressive, in tone and body posture, he or she is trying to communicate ideas and accomplish something. The aggressive person is trying to get something to occur by being aggressive. What’s Your Point? It can be helpful to ascertain the goal of your dialogue or interactions with others....

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Recovery is Not the Goal

Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Recovery is Not the Goal

I’ve spent the better part of my 30+ year career helping people recover from substance use and mental health disorders, so my saying that recovery is not the goal likely comes as a bit of a surprise. The goal for people is as varied and different as the people are themselves. For some people the goal might be to live without shame, become an electrical engineer, go back to school, raise their own children, get their license back, be honest, like themself again, restore trust in a relationship, get a good job or get married. Recovery is not...

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Character Transformation Makes Treatment Successful

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Character Transformation Makes Treatment Successful

As a psychologist and substance use counselor it would stand to reason that I should be concerned with the attitudes, dispositions, emotions, mindset, and memories that all flavor our actions. When I speak to people in our group programs, I am an advocate of making character changes not just behavior changes. Not Just an Act Most people cannot consistently act different than the way they really feel and believe – at least not for long. We typically act in a way that is quite consistent with our own nature or character. Oh, most people are...

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