Challenging the power of addiction with lifestyle change and overcoming the power of habit is a dynamic struggle, requiring both patience and discipline. It is an act of bravery because it challenges the human need for immediate gratification that substances or unhealthy behaviors have provided.
Dr. Paul Standal teaches people how to function without obsessive use of substances or behaviors, how to handle cravings, how to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse, and how to handle a relapse should it occur. Counseling provides structure, support and intervention, encouraging insight and movement through denial, which blocks recognition of the need for both abstinence and recovery. Treatment and counseling help those on the road to recovery re-establish a healthy relationship with self and with those they love, while improving their ability to function at work and in the community.
Dr. Standal’s approach is cognitive, behavioral and person-centered, tailored to the severity of the addictive process as well as their motivation for change. He helps move his patients from a stage of denial, rationalization and pre-contemplation, to one of awareness, insight, and readiness to take action that reinforces abstinence and to ultimately maintain recovery. Couple and family counseling are a part of his approach. Psychologically, he helps patients change self-destructive behaviors, cope with uncomfortable feelings, and transform unhealthy beliefs about themselves.
He aids his clients in challenging their deep-seated, negative thinking and conditions of worth that have reinforced their addiction and relapses. Examples that he encounters and helps his patients overcome for real recovery and life change are:
• Ignore things and they will go away.
• People will hate you if you cause them any discomfort.
• You can do anything you want as long as it isn’t hurting anyone else.
• People don’t really care what happens to you.
• No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to get ahead.
• If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
• If you want people to like you, you’ve got to keep a smile on your face.
• You can’t teach old dog new tricks.
• A promise to people should satisfy them.
• Life is supposed to be fair.
• You are not responsible for your behavior if you’re sick.
• What you don’t know won’t hurt you.
As you refute these destructive messages, Dr. Standal reinforces more positive ones, while helping you increase your self-responsibility, gratitude, kindness, concern and empathy for yourself and others you love. Self-responsibility is essential, and, as it develops in therapy, clients become more creative, willing to make healthy life decisions, more highly motivated to tackle tough problems, and more effective at working independently or interdependently. Trust and cooperative engagement and learning are the hallmark of his person-centered approach to treatment and recovery.
Using a recovery-focused, therapeutic process will help you learn to deal with uncomfortable feelings like fear, anger or resentment that inevitably emerge through the process of recovery responsibly with openness, honesty, and expressing and resolving feelings in appropriate and effective ways.
An individualized treatment plan is formulated like a roadmap to recovery to provide direction and appropriate goal orientation. Generally these goals are as follows:
1. Help patient overcome denial and reveal personality changes, mood swings and trouble that have occurred since the person started using.
2. Develop insight into the reasons you turned to substances.
3. Promote personal responsibility for changing behaviors related to the abuse, substances and obsessive behaviors.
4. Mobilizing motivation for change.
5. Matching treatment to the stage of addiction, assisting the patient in moving through denial and isolation through anger, bargaining and depression to acceptance of self and their relationship to substances.
6. Educate relapse-prevention techniques by identifying relapsing triggers, and develop alternative responses.
7. Inclusion of family members, significant others, and occupational factors to assist in treatment success.
8. Monitoring client’s performance, progress, rewards and sanctions consistent with the individualized treatment plan.
His treatment goals are to help:
• Identify people, places, things, and situations that are relapse “triggers.”
• Identify possible history of physical, sexual, and/or emotional trauma, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and referring for treatment.
• Break conditioned responses (craving) for substances and behaviors.
• Develop alternative coping strategies to respond to or to overcome relapse triggers.
• Establish a support network.
He recognizes that abstinence is only the first essential step in recovery and that every person has his own path to follow for his or her real recovery. He also knows that recovery is a process that requires a total decision to renounce the obsessive behaviors and the triggers that have fueled that obsession. Recovery requires time, effort, patience, courage, discovery, persistence and pain that ultimately leave the person with a new paradigm of their life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
He works to help his patients at each of these levels. He helps them physically by encouraging and adopting a healthy lifestyle that reflects a sense of self-respect. If assessed, medication management is encouraged when necessary.
At the deepest level, he assists the individual’s transformative process. This can be described as an awakening where the person’s fear turns to faith, pride to humility, self-pity to gratitude, resentment to acceptance, dishonesty to honesty, cynicism to trust, isolation to connectedness, and from reliance on self-will to reliance on the power greater than ourselves. If asked to list positive “spiritual” qualities, most people would include at least some of the following: serenity, peace of mind, peace of conscience, goodness, honesty, genuineness, integrity, humility, kindness, generosity, courage, faith, tolerance, acceptance, discipline, etc.
Though Dr. Standal does not use a twelve-step approach in his recovery-focused therapy, he does ascribe to AA, NA, CA, Al-Anon, and Ala-Teen, as blueprints for growth and change. When followed, he finds that the community of support, embodied by the 12-step principles as well as Rational Recovery, is a powerful tool for recovery. Addiction has, for many clients, derailed their lives and delayed their emotional development. His aim is to help his clients put their lives back on track by helping them resolve both psychological and emotional consequences of addiction, and to intervene when crisis occurs.
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