What is Post Induction Therapy?

Whilst YouTubing my way during this public holiday Monday I came across this video featuring Pia Mellody on the Meadows Model. I especially like her conceptualization of induction theory. The idea that as children we tend to be ‘inducted’ into our family system and take on certain beliefs, values and or rules as a consequence. This is fine if our families, or caregivers are ‘good enough’ parents, not so much if we grow up with one or more dysfunctional parents, or without adequate guidance.

Pia Mellody is a senior fellow of The Meadows which is an addiction treatment centre based in the United States. The Meadows model sees addiction as a symptom and treats the whole person, rather than the specific substance or behaviour. Other senior fellows of the Meadows include some of the greatest trauma, addiction and mental health experts today such as Patrick Carnes, Bessel Van Der Kolk, Peter Levine, Stephanie Carnes & Richard Schwartz among others. The following video shows Pia outlining the Meadows Model. I’ve summarized the main talking points below if you haven’t got time to watch the whole video (it goes for about 30 minutes) but I recommend you do if you have time.

PostInductionTherapy

Post induction therapy involves, according to Pia, addressing the “crap” that’s been introduced into your psyche during childhood. Usually the result of, shall we say, less than ideal parenting. If your parents were immature, addicted, mentally unwell, absent, abusive and/or relentlessly critical – or in some other way dysfunctional to varying degrees, chances are you’ve been left with a psyche that’s been polluted by a set of imposed toxic beliefs about yourself, other people and the world, which have infiltrated your system in much the same way as dirt added to water becomes mud. This can leave you feeling as if you are mud, rather than clear water with this extra stuff added. Mind you, I don’t think there is anyone on earth that manages to get through their childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood without something crappy added. However, some of us unfortunately have a lot more ‘crap’ to deal with than others, and so the sifting process can take a little longer. This means that recovery, in one sense, is a process of removal, of refinement and of letting go. Letting go of that extra baggage that feels like a part of us, simply because it has been with us for such a long time. Unresolved trauma is a bit like that, it feels like something that is a part of you, but it is not. Not really. Recovery often involves putting down, letting go of those beliefs, habits, behaviours that no longer serve you and of becoming the person you really are. As Louise Hay has said, a healthy, productive life is your birthright.

According to Pia Mellody, Post Induction Therapy means addressing the trauma that you encountered in childhood and working towards being comfortable with the idea of intrinsic self-worth. Intrinsic means, already there. You are worthy just as you are, all your faults and fabulousness included. Intrinsic self-worth involves an attitude of “My faults don’t make me any better or worse than you, same with my strengths”. Working on your faults, improving your strengths are part of the work. Getting rid of dysfunctional behaviours and dependencies such as addictions and learning how to be a ‘functional’ adult is also part of it. To do that, we need to be sober and to stop those behaviours which are essentially symptoms of our inner ruptured psyche. Those things you do to self-soothe, to punish yourself and others, to escape the sense of acute loneliness and the relationships we scorch along the way, are not discrete problems but symptoms of the foundational issue, which essentially is a poor foundation. Learning about self-worth, boundaries, respect for self and others and how to generally go about being a functional adult, these are the sorts of things parents or adult caregivers are supposed to be teaching their children. It is not your fault if your parents did not or were not able to do this for whatever reason. Learning to accept that is a big part of the healing process.

BoundariesAreEverything

Pia also talks about the importance of learning about setting healthy boundaries. According to Pia, a healthy boundary is a “cross between a wall and nothing.” A wall is not healthy. It may keep you ‘safe’ but it also keeps you isolated from others and stops you from fully relating, honestly, authentically. A wall keeps you from experiencing joy and happiness, even if keeping away pain and disappointment. Having no boundaries is not good either, of course. It is not safe to fully trust someone without reservation, to fully expect them to be your everything before getting to know them. A healthy boundary also alerts others to what you will and won’t accept from them and allows them to feel safe with you too. Learning how to enact your boundaries involves experiencing the emotion when a boundary has been transgressed, breathing through your emotions, accepting the emotions as being whatever they are, then using your ‘talking boundaries’ to tell the other person how they made you feel. This teaches self-regulation and healthy expression, rather than hiding, using substances, or blaming to avoid the discomfort that a boundary violation often involves. Learning how to enact your boundaries takes practice. Group therapy is great for this, as is working with a therapist one on one.

It is important to remember that healing involves acknowledging the trauma that has informed your current situation, but it doesn’t have to involve reliving that trauma. For some, it can be enough to know that what happened was not their fault and that their future doesn’t have to be the same as their past.

Tasks of Recovery

For the last 16 months I have worked as an AOD Counsellor (AOD stands for Alcohol and Other Drugs) and during this time I’ve come to notice certain reoccurring themes that keep presenting themselves in both my individual and group sessions.

I started to write these down and have come to a formative model of recovery which I liken to Kubler Ross’s stages of grief model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Kubler Ross published a book in 1969 called On Death & Dying in which she described the common phases or stages that patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses went through after their diagnosis. The stages are not necessarily linear, however there does seem to be a process of change happening, and this is something I have also noticed in my work with those recovering from addiction. I am not talking about the well used Stages of Change model well used in AOD treatment services since its inception in 1983 by Prochaska & DiClemente, which identified that change is a process that individuals go through involving a series of stages or phases that ultimately lead to lasting change.

Like the stages of grief, the below themes are not in any particular order, except for the first one. In my observation, a true and real commitment beginning the process seems to be a first important step, as it is in the 12 step model:

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.

Sometimes, it can take many attempts to even get this far. As with the 12 step model, often the first step towards change is often the biggest leap to take.

accomplishment action adult adventure
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Below are some of the themes or Tasks of Recovery as I have observed them. All the themes mentioned below need to be reckoned with at some point in the journey of recovery in order to get from the action stage to maintenance stage and towards real lasting change. I just want to say that it doesn’t matter what your addiction is, alcohol, drugs, porn or gambling, the following themes I think are universal and can be used alongside other therapy models often used in addiction treatment such as CBT or Motivational Interviewing. The following themes also feature heavily in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy so those of you who are familiar with ACT may recognize some of the concepts.

 

Commitment 

Decide that you want to make a change and commit to doing whatever it takes to staying on track. Russell Harris, author of The Happiness Trap has a great quote on commitment that I love. It really embodies a mindful, compassionate stance on recovery:

Commitment doesn’t mean you never make a wrong move or take a detour, and it doesn’t mean you stay on track 100% of the time; that’s unrealistic. It means even when you keep going off-course, you keep catching yourself and then getting back on track again

Connect with your values, meaning, purpose and spirituality. Use this self-knowledge to empower and motivate you to make the best decisions you can make, starting from now, that will help you to create a future now that is better than your past. Better doesn’t mean perfect, but better as in more real, honest, richer, meaningful and more colourful. A future present that contains more contentment, joy and inner peace.

Acceptance

Acceptance of the past and present means accept what has already happened. Doesn’t mean you like it or approve of it or wanted it to happen. Accept your current situation. Doesn’t mean you like it either or want it to be this way. However, struggling with non-acceptance of past and present is a futile exercise. It is a waste of time and energy which could be better used elsewhere. Don’t let your past dictate your future. This is what happens when you refuse to accept reality or practice avoidance. You are destined to repeat past mistakes. Acceptance releases you from this repetitive pattern. Acceptance means just “dropping the struggle“. This frees you to direct your attention and energy into doing what you need to do, in order to improve your life.

Lying & Honesty

Address lying and practice honesty in everything you do. Stop lying to yourself and others. Start speaking your truth, in a compassionate way. Be authentic, transparent and congruent. Make your word your bond. Turn up on time for appointments. Don’t say yes to something unless you are really intending to follow through. Don’t hide how you feel. Pick one person besides yourself that you can be 100% honest with. This can be a therapist, friend, partner or priest! Doesn’t matter who as long as it is someone trustworthy. Embrace the truth, it may not always be pretty but it really will set you free.

However, learning to be honest with yourself and others can be difficult if you are not used to it. Here is a simple strategy for practicing honesty which I call NOTE.

N – notice your thoughts and feelings. Take a breath and just sit with whatever is going on for you at that moment.

O – own it. Own your experience, don’t try to rationalize with yourself, or judge your feelings as right or wrong, good or bad. Just acknowledge that this is how you are feeling at the time.

T – take a breath. Take at lease one deep breath in and let it out. This allows your emotions (or energy in motion) to settle.

E – explain your reality. Start speaking. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to speak openly and honestly when you have given yourself a moment to check in first.

Forgiveness & Compassion

Forgive others for what they had done wrong to you. Forgive yourself for things that you have done. Simple as that. Like acceptance however, it does not mean that you are O.K. with it or like it. Doesn’t mean you approve of what was done, however, forgiveness is essentially a selfish act. Forgiveness frees you from negativity and resentment. Resentment is the cause of most dis-ease according to Louise Hay. Release resentment and be free of negativity. You will feel lighter and more at ease. Forgiveness is necessary if you are going to practice self-acceptance and love. There is no love without forgiveness. To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Guilt & Shame

Own up to any wrongs you have committed in the service of your addiction and address any lingering shame. It’s important to look at shame as a relapse prevention strategy as it is the most likely cause of lapses and relapse. Shame operates like an invisible suit of armour that keeps us safe yet apart from others. Shame keeps us from making real connections with people who might otherwise love and accept us. It is really important to separate guilt from shame. Guilt is feeling bad because of what you have done. Shame is feeling like you are bad. Remember, we are not our mistakes. It is important to address guilt, make amends if you have to (unless to do so would cause further harm) but remind yourself that you are always only ever doing the best you can with what you have at the time. In the past, you did not know this. Now you do. 

 

That’s all I have come up with for now. If anyone has some others that they think I have left out or any feedback relating to the above please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear it!