Dr. Hal’s Blog

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

Creating Half-Time Strategies for Recovery

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

“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

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

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

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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Resolving Old Wounds

Posted by on Mar 13, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

I gave a presentation on Codependency to a small group last Saturday. The event was held in an elegantly appointed retreat house hidden away. From the back of the room, leaning across a granite countertop, eyes shining and fixed attentively, a man asked me how his sourness and disappointments of the past had so happily disappeared? I know a little of his story. He is a survivor of a fiery, crushing accident which caused the amputation of his legs as a child. He uses prosthetics to walk, remarkable to be sure, but his heart and mind have made...

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Treatment Saves Lives

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Substance-use and resulting substance use disorders (SUD) are hazardous to your health and come at a staggering cost. Individuals with a SUD have more social, medical, physical, psychological, financial, relational, and occupational problems than someone who is abstinent. As drug use continues to rise, not surprisingly, overdose deaths keep climbing. Over 52,000 Americans died in 2015 and more than 64,000 Americans died of drug overdose in 2016 (NIDA, 2017). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has been an almost...

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Three Critical Areas to Establish Margin

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

My simple definition of burnout is doing too much, with too little, for too long. And burnout is not just a scheduling problem. Stress and burnout are often made significantly worse by bitterness and resentment. “I’m the only one who works around here, what do the rest of you lazy bums do?” You can hear the frustration and bitterness building. However, it is important to manage your activity and workload as well. Working under constant pressure and facing steep demands with limited resources can drain your drive and strain your resolve....

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The Ten Core Principles of Recovery

Posted by on Feb 12, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

In order to help your clients navigate successful, long-term recovery, we’ve developed ten core principles of recovery. Like using a map, these principles help set good goals, avoid some mistakes, and dodge unnecessary problems. And of course, following that map helps you accomplish a specific, desired result. Although many of our clients are willing to pursue long-term recovery, they lack the direction, guidance, and skill necessary to sustain it. So what separates the successful from the unsuccessful? Those who are successful deliberately...

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Managing Anxiety for Maximum Performance

Posted by on Feb 5, 2018 in Journey to Recovery | 0 comments

Managing Anxiety for Maximum Performance

Have you been busy lately? Do you ever get so stressed you become overwhelmed or paralyzed? Stress is the biological, emotional, behavioral, and social response to a real or imagined event. When anxiety and stress are low, motivation and performance levels remain low as well. Some stress can be motivating. As stress and anxiety go up, performance levels also rise, but only to a certain point. Increased stress causes a tipping point, and more anxiety beyond that point actually decreases performance levels. In fact, under high levels of stress,...

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