Okay, I give up.

Uncle

Apparently my life’s role is to provide information, support, and guidance for people who are taking charge of their substance abuse issue. It seems that It’s especially for people who are hoping to put together a plan that is based on current research and not cliche concepts or cookie cutter advice.

I wanted to give an explanation as to why I treat substance use disorder in professionals, executives, and other high achieving people and why I approach substance use disorder treatment the way I do.

business man with a journal

I am a person in long term recovery myself. What that means for me is that in May of 2024 I celebrated 33 years of continuous recovery. I have walked through all of life’s rites of passages, celebrations, challenges such as aging and deceased parents, having and raising children into adulthood, financial insecurity, relationship ruptures and repairs – All while sober. 

How Did I Get Here?

How did that lead to becoming a professional? I didn’t take the common pathway of becoming sober and immediately deciding to become a professional while in treatment or early recovery. My path was more meandering. Or so I thought.

When I became a parent in the 1990s, I realized I needed better skills to parent effectively. Back then, many parenting programs were rigid and punitive. With research, I discovered “positive parenting:” an approach that emphasizes connection over punishment. This approach emphasizes that you don’t have to make a human feel bad in order for them to do better. This resonated deeply with me and I became a parenting coach and owned 2 licensed daycare home facilities. 

Big Changes Lead to Big Changes

3 kids later and 15 years sober my life collapsed and I needed to develop an encore career and I returned to school. This, I was going to follow my heart and instead of business, I was going to “help people.” But I was also determined that after earning my Masters in Counseling, I was not going to work with “people in recovery.”. I felt I had been around them for 15 years – nearly my entire adult life – and I wanted to work with families and couples teaching positive discipline and parenting.

The joke was on me, though, both from a business standpoint (I ended up in several business roles anyway and eventually owning one) and the universe had other plans for the helping roles I’d hold. My first job after graduating was Program Manager for a substance abuse Intensive Outpatient Program – also known as IOP. 

It Was Here That the Real Learning Happened

In supervisory roles in the treatment industry, I made some observations that would inform my treatment approach:

  1. The SUD treatment industry held some of the same punitive, adversarial, and hostile paradigms that I had seen in parenting back in the 1990’s.
  2. Treatment planning was more cookie-cutter than custom (in spite of the recommendations of advisory boards).
  3. There was an over-reliance on one mutual help model (12-Step).
  4. There were not enough options and exposure to a variety of support options that would serve individuals.
  5. Clients were treated like children or teenagers and individual strengths, assets, and abilities were not incorporated into their recovery plan. 
  6. Clients were expected to “surrender,” “admit powerlessness,” and everyone was told the exact same advice.

That Is Problematic

Not everyone was the same person. As I reflected on my own history, I realized:

  • I wasn’t the same person at 25 when I got clean and sober as I was at 30 when I began having kids. 
  • I wasn’t the same at nearly 40 when that marriage collapsed and I was about to face 4 long years of a brutal custody and family law battle. 
  • I wasn’t the same person when I returned to school again at over 50 to earn my doctorate, already a mature and seasoned professional. 

I concluded It’s not appropriate to advise clients with the same “cut and paste” treatment plan and disregard their season of life, their challenges, their assets, and their experience.

At over 50 years old, I returned to school AGAIN to earn my doctorate degree. My doctorate project was essentially a 225 page diatribe against the substance abuse treatment industry. My project was a curriculum which I developed and tested for use in either facilities, IOPS, SOPs, or private practice. Based on a foundation of 10 Principles, the curriculum supports and encourages a positive approach, discourages shame, busts the myth of “a bottom,” and allows clients to curate a custom recovery program with the help of a specialized clinician.

I have developed clinical programs in several treatment organizations using this positive, strengths based model that responds to client’s needs, preferences, characteristics, and allows for choice, autonomy, and directs care towards scientific and proven results.

So, I Admit It. I Help People Treat Themselves Well

That’s what my business is about and what my signature work, message, and mission is. I help high achieving people address their substance use issues in ways that work for them. 

Later this fall, I am launching a course to help professionals manage executive stress and enjoy life without alcohol. In support of that, I have created a resource that helps high achievers and professionals begin to evaluate their stress management. Research shows that the #1 reason professionals start drinking again is stress. This FREE workbook helps you address executive stress. If this tool is of interest to you, click on this link in the description box below for the free PDF “Your Ultimate Stress Management Workbook.” 

Cover of Your Ultimate Stress Management Workbook

Speak Your Mind

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24618 Kingsland Blvd 2nd Floor, Room 8
Katy, TX 77494
On the left hand side of the CLS building

recoverytherapist@joanneketch.com
(281) 740-7563


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