So Now You’re in Recovery. What’s Next?

What's next

by: Lorie Obernauer, Ph.D., A.C.C

Congratulations! You’re in recovery. You’ve made it through detox and your physical, mental, and emotional health feels more balanced. You have learned a lot about yourself through the treatment process and may be participating in some continuing care programs or recovery support groups. You may have started some new self-care routines. You might have some legal issues that you’re tackling. You’re probably repairing some personal relationships. You may be back to work, thinking about a new job or considering some options for volunteer work. A lot is going on and on some days you feel positive and energized. Other days, you feel depleted: nothing is really wrong, yet nothing feels exactly right.

This is the story of recovery. I’ve been there. I started my recovery in 2006. I’m still in recovery and the challenges continue. There are ups and downs, good days and bad days, lots of new emotions and new experiences. Life feels easier, lots of good things have happened, yet on some days, I wonder: is this all there is? What’s next? Fortunately, I got some great guidance about how to find an answer to that question.

Successful businesses all have a Vision Statement: a declaration of values and purpose. A Vision Statement provides a business with direction for all of its activities. So to discover my direction, to answer “what’s next” I began by crafting a Personal Vision Statement.

A Personal Vision Statement is a brief description of what you want to focus on and accomplish and who you want to become. It’s a way to focus your energy, actions and decision towards the things that are most important to you.

You can start this process by asking yourself some questions:

1. What are the things that I most love to do?
2. What is most important to me right now in my life?
3. What do I want more of in my life?
4. How do I want to feel everyday?
5. What am I meant to contribute to the world?

Then, write 3 – 5 sentences that capture your thoughts. Keep it simple, clear and brief. Include words that reflect your values and a description of how you want to show up as your best self. State positively what you want to do and who you want to become. Write it in the present tense as if it’s already happening!

Finally, use this Personal Vision Statement as a framework for making plans and decisions. If what you’re thinking or doing doesn’t align with your Vision, then adjust what you’re thinking or doing!

Writing a Personal Vision statement is something you can do on your own. You can go online and find many exercises and articles that can help you write your statement. You can also accelerate this process by working with a Life Coach. Find a coach who is trained to help you with this visioning process AND who will support you as you figure out and take the steps to live your vision.

There is a myriad of research that supports the positive impact of visioning. In studies of business and leadership, crafting and sharing vision statements with relevant constituents is considered a “best practice”. Visioning strategies are in used in the fields of science, education and technology to “re-imagine” products, processes and strategic direction. There is also growing evidence that indicates that “values clarification”, which is a major component of the visioning process, impacts life satisfaction, increases personal growth, and even resulted in a reduction in drug use among students who participated in controlled study.

I currently facilitate visioning groups at a local addiction treatment center. some of clients who have participated in the visioning process said:
“It’s the first time I feel optimistic since I’ve been in recovery.”
“Now I know where I’m headed in my life.”
“I’m reconnected to my dreams.”
“I’ve also had a vision for my business that guided my decisions. Now I have a vision for how I want to grow in my personal life.”

My grandmother used to say that “growing old is not for sissies”. Well, neither is recovery. It requires courage and a willingness to accept the “whole you”, your best side and your dark side. It requires resilience and a capacity to try new things, make adjustments when needed and then, try again.

Creating a Personal Vision Statement offers a way to enhance your recovery growth, and create your own answer to “what’s next?”.

Meet Lorie Obernauer, Ph.D., A.C.C.
Lorie Is a certified Life Coach, working exclusively with people who are in recovery from addiction or who are considering whether they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Lorie comes to her calling in part, because she is in long-term recovery from addiction and has tackled the challenges that are part of the recovery process. In her coaching practice, she uses a strengths-based, practical approach to help clients create a satisfying, productive life while advancing their recovery from addiction. Lorie will help you find solutions and take action to repair those difficult situations that addiction often creates.

Lorie’s past training and career experiences also strengthen her work as an Addiction Recovery-Life Coach. She has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and advanced coach training and certification from the International Coaching Federation. She was the Alumni Program manager at a renown addiction treatment center in Colorado. She also founded a national, non-profit organization to help addiction treatment centers create robust Alumni Programs. In her early career, Lorie ran educational programs at the University of Pittsburgh, then owned and operated her own businesses for over 20 years.

Most recently, Lorie has created a new coaching program called VISION TREK. It is designed to help people in recovery develop and implement a personal, relevant life vision, a plan to create the life they want and a strategy for moving forward.
Lorie has a deep, intimate understanding that recovery requires honesty and openness and a dedication to learning and growing everyday, She will inspire you to imagine new possibilities for your life and motivate you to act boldly

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Goal Setting: Measurable Motivation

Setting Goals

By: Khara Brindle

With the closing of 2017, you may be looking to the new year to create resolution or revisit goals in the hope of change. It’s a time to explore goals that are measurable and attainable; it’s a time to create small steps to build self-confidence to remain motivated and hopeful. Perhaps you say “I want to join a gym to help my depression.” You want to work out every day to help your mood but aren’t currently working out on a consistent basis, and not at a gym. So, you find it important to explore your motivation as well as the perceived strengths and challenges of reaching your goal. You learn that smaller steps can support success and agree to working on short-term goals to build confidence and to move towards your long-term goal of working out daily.

Monitoring Motivation

Why is it important to explore motivation around a goal? Research tells us goals around fitness and gym attendance peak in January and dramatically decline by February and March every year. Additional research tells us that we must do something consistently for a minimum of 30 days for it to become a habit. What this conveys to us as human beings is that we need to see results or progress to continue to work hard at a goal. You may normalize this for yourself in understanding the pattern of motivation. You may also explore research on the Stages of Change from Motivational Interviewing as a visual to support yourself in identifying strengths and barriers to change. By being open and honest with yourself, you will be setting yourself up for success. Ask yourself the following questions to fully discover where your motivation lies (and note the Stages of Change in parentheses):

• What do you want to change? (Pre-contemplation to Contemplation)
• What makes that a problem for you? (Contemplation)
• Is it a big enough problem to want something different? (Contemplation)
• How would you achieve the desired change? (Preparation)
• What do you need to support change? (Preparation)
• What would help you to begin? (Action)
• How will you know when you are ready for change? (Action)
• What would help you keep going? (Maintenance)
• Who/What would hold you accountable?
• What would happen if you don’t succeed?

By exploring these questions, you can identify any current strengths or barriers to succeeding and further explore what is needed to progress through the Stages of Change.

Make it Measurable

It isn’t uncommon for someone to identify a goal but not know how to attain it, thus remaining in the stage of contemplation. It becomes our responsibility to break down a long-term or larger goal into measurable, smaller pieces for it to feel worthwhile. Here are some examples of how to make it measurable when identifying a larger, more abstract goal:

I want to be healthy. Logging daily exercise, keeping a food journal, using a mood tracking app
I want to work out. Identifying current exercise habits, exploring interests to increase exercise gradually such as walking at your lunch hour, walking the dog, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator
I want to be more confident. Exploring times in your life you’ve felt confident, gathering meaningful quotes, engaging in values exercises or creating a vision board
I want to be happy. Defining what happy could look like, gratitude journaling, and/or pleasant activities scheduled

Smaller, more measurable efforts can support short-term goals blending into long-term goals over time. By identifying and writing down goals that are measurable, can be reviewed regularly, and can be celebrated when attained, the effort it takes to achieve these goals can feel validated and encourage motivation for the long-term work as well.

Accountability Buddy

Motivation can be internal such as, “I can do this” or external, “she said I can do this.” Identifying a trusted support as an Accountability Buddy can help you achieve your goals. Accountability Buddies are selected as a support person who is aware of your goals and holds you accountable by remaining in regular contact with you on your progress. They may meet with you weekly, monthly or on whatever schedule can help you remain focused and present on the goals you are working towards. Sometimes Accountability Buddies have a similar goal and may participate alongside you, such as going to the gym with you three times per week. Not having to work towards a goal alone can serve as an incentive in absorbing someone else’s positivity when you begin to question your own motivation. You may struggle to recognize the small but important shifts in progress and begin to question why you are working so hard for minimal results. Perhaps they help you recognize the smaller changes that have taken place when you feel the seeds of doubt are planted, thus preventing you from giving up on a goal that is supporting healthy change. By identifying an Accountability Buddy that is supportive throughout the process, you can experience motivation and recognize goal progression, allowing the ongoing growth and change you desire.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama.

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

For More Information, Please visit:
Catalyst Counseling

Should You Put Recovery on Your List of New Year’s Resolutions?


By Michael Rass

About forty percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions around this time. They typically resolve to live healthier in the new year or improve their lifestyle in other ways. Popular resolutions include staying fit and healthy, losing weight, enjoying life to the fullest, getting organized, and traveling more.

The good intentions listed above all share the same problem: they are rather vague. That is probably why most people give up on their resolutions by February. Most resolutions are not kept. As notes, “43 percent of Americans say they plan to lose weight by making healthier food choices, but 76 percent said they did not follow a weight loss or diet program in 2014.”

So, if you have a substance use disorder, should you put recovery on the list? Should fighting a serious disease like addiction be a New Year’s resolution?

Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Yes and no. It’s not a bad idea to have goals for the new year, but they should be SMART—specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time based. In other words, your resolution should not be “drink less” or “cut back on smoking marijuana,” because those intentions have no time frame and cannot be measured effectively.

Goals are important to achieving recovery but ideally they are objectives agreed with a therapist or sponsor as part of a treatment program. They should not be the vague declarations of intent that New Year’s resolutions tend to be.

Goal-Setting Can Make You Heal Faster

When done right, setting specific goals can be surprisingly effective. In his 2012 book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg describes a Scottish study that examined the power of goal setting for patients recovering from knee or hip surgery. Mobilization and exercise are very important for these patients but the pain can be so extreme that many skip rehab sessions and refuse to get on their feet. Participants in the study had to set weekly goals, writing down exactly what they were going to do. Patients in a control group did not have to set any goals.

“It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how they recover from surgery,” writes Duhigg. “But when the researcher visited the patients three months later, she found a striking difference between the two groups.The patients who had written plans in their booklets had started walking almost twice as fast as the ones who had not. They had started getting in and out of their chairs, unassisted, almost three times as fast.”

Goal-setting is an important tool in addiction treatment as well. The right goals formulated in small achievable steps combined with appropriate therapy can improve clients’ chances of a successful recovery, but they should not just settle for a generic “I want to be sober.” They should formulate specific steps on how to achieve sobriety on a day-to-day basis.

For many people with addiction, pledges like “I will never use drugs again” often seem frighteningly daunting in early recovery. It is mentally easier for them to commit to the much more modest “I will not use today” and have that same goal every day. One patient in the Scottish study had the goal always to take a second step and not sit back down after the excruciatingly painful first step when getting up. Presumably, that was more effective for him than “keep walking.”

New Year’s resolutions like “enjoying life to the fullest” fail because they are too global. You wouldn’t even know at what point you have achieved it.

No Need to Wait

New Year’s resolutions also involve the risk of delay. Drugs and alcohol can kill you, often sooner than later, and waiting for New Year’s Day to come along to get better can be dangerous.

If you are battling a severe substance use disorder, your recovery should start as soon as possible.

Don’t resolve to quit drinking or using drugs next year and then go on a binge before New Year’s Eve. There is absolutely no need to wait until New Year before enjoying sobriety. The time to quit is right now. Get help before it is too late. Your life depends on it.

Avoidance and Attendance: Advocating for Yourself


by Khara Brindle

It’s that time of year. The time where you might feel the urge to disengage from therapy in response to the season, holidays, or stress. The time when you may need an appointment the most in order to support you through trauma, family conflict, isolation, and loneliness. For some, the crises seem to intensify during the holidays. Perhaps you are experiencing depression symptoms due to the winter weather or maybe you are battling loneliness in spending the holidays away from your loved ones. Perhaps you are attempting to navigate the unwanted memories of trauma during your family’s holiday dinner or are experiencing high anxiety because of money stress and holiday shopping. You on your journey to sobriety and anticipate having to navigate holiday parties around family and friends where temptation may lead to relapse. Combine these stressful situations with your ability to cope and you may feel you can engage in therapy fully to receive support, or in some cases, desire to disengage in response to the overwhelming feeling of all that is weighing you down. It can feel like a balancing act to engage your supports when feeling stressed, but rest assured, it can be an empowering experience to engage in through the holiday season in support of your personal and relationship goals.

Avoiding Appointments
The more easily measured type of avoidance when overwhelmed is a change in attendance in your scheduled sessions. Perhaps you find yourself canceling sessions when in the past, you’ve been consistent in attending each week. Or maybe you find yourself cancelling last minute due to feeling like you need to use that time or money for another task? How do you explore your needs when you haven’t been able to justify spending the time or money on your own mental health? Depending on how your therapist structures sessions, you may want to consider advocating for yourself in exploring the following:
• Completing a phone call with your therapist to communicate what is going on in your world and attempt to re-engage in sessions to support managing your stress.
• Engaging in a phone session instead of a face-to-face to explore and address present stressors if you are unable to attend in person.
• Identifying a different appointment time that encourages attendance such as an early morning before work or later evening if appropriate and depending on if your therapist has openings at
those times.
• Identifying biweekly or monthly sessions for the holiday season to account for financial constraints and time management.
• Reviewing your attendance contract with your therapist to explore opportunities and restrictions, such as possibly placing scheduled appointments on hold and resuming at a later time if

Emotionally checking out
The hope is that with ongoing rapport, the conversations with your therapist above can support you with healthy communication and accountability when experiencing increased distress. Your relationship with your therapist, or rapport, becomes even more important when you find yourself engaged by your therapist around a lack of emotional participation in session. Perhaps you begin to notice that you struggle to arrive on time to your scheduled appointments, jumping into sessions with details unrelated to yourself or changing subjects rapidly throughout the scheduled time. Or maybe you remain surface-level in your processing, not dropping down into emotions and deeper meaning in session because you are avoiding the stress or have worries that it will become unbearable when talking about it. With healthy communication, you can name what’s going on for you and process the outcomes with your therapist. Here are some examples of how you might start the conversation:
• In response to running late: “I’m struggling to get here on time and it feels rushed lately, like we have to fit it all in. Can I talk to you more about what that’s like for me?”
• In response to staying surface-level: “I have to admit, it’s easier to talk about the lighter things than the deeper, more stressful stuff. I think I’m worried that if we talk about it, it will just make
me feel worse.”
• To encourage connection: “I feel very disconnected from my body, like my head is fuzzy and floating and I just want to be numb rather than this stressed all the time. Can you help me feel
more like myself?”
• To encourage feedback: “I’m needing something different in our sessions to help me. Can I talk to you more about that?”
• To name fears: “I’m afraid that if we talk about these things, I won’t be able to function or get things done afterwards,” or “I’m reluctant to talk about this now because we won’t have our next
appointment until after the holiday.”

Any of these statements can lead to a supportive conversation with your therapist to further identify and explore your needs. These sessions can prove to be some of the most impactful and fruitful in not only holding space for emotion and processing of stress, but also supporting vulnerability and self-advocacy in exploring how you can engage all of your supports in ways that feel beneficial to you.

Hear me
Vulnerability is hard. Yet for many of us, the power of being seen, heard, and understood makes engaging in vulnerability worthwhile. Your therapist, engaging you from a place of compassion and empathy, can better understand your needs when you speak of them. Your therapist can offer a neutral curiosity with ongoing optimism conveys the message that, together, you can find relief. Whether it be concrete tools for coping or holding space for your emotions, your therapist can create a safety net to address any fear, guilt, or shame you may be harboring in these moments of distress. Engaging in holiday travel, consider your therapy sessions a roadmap to relief! With direction and insight, you can address avoidance and attendance from an authentic, supportive place to best serve you during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

“You are as amazing as you let yourself be. Let me repeat that, you are as amazing as you let yourself be.” Elizabeth Alraune

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

For More Information, Please visit:
Catalyst Counseling


Nourishing Your Nervous System In Recovery

Compass with needle pointing the word well-being. 3D illustration with blur effect. Concept of wellbeing or wellness

By Jolene Park

Jolene Park

As you encounter various experiences, situations, interactions and decisions throughout your day ask yourself this simple question: “Is this nourishing?”

Who are the people that you surround yourself with? Do your friends, family members, co-workers, intimate romantic partners uplift or deplete you? Have you chosen healing mentors, practitioners, healthcare providers who listen and tend to you? What about the environments you place yourself in at work and home? Are they clean, cluttered, and weighed down with stuff literally or metaphorically? What about nature? Do you have a place in nature that you can access and visit easily and frequently?

What about those conversations you have in your own head? Or the conversations you have with others? Are they uplifting, supportive, nourishing? Do you speak up for yourself or do you swallow and suppress your feelings, words, or truth? Do you nourish yourself with quiet time, reflection, rest? Are you in a nourishing work situation and environment? Does your work provide nourishing compensation for your contributions? Do you make nourishing decisions about how you save and spend money?

Do you move, stretch your body in a self-compassionate (nourishing) way? The style of exercise or time spent exercising isn’t as important as how you use exercise. Exercise is not meant to be a self-punishment for something that you ate or drank, instead exercise is meant to boost endorphins and build physical and mental strength. How do you use exercise?
Which foods do you eat on a regular basis? Does the food you choose energize and fortify you? Why do you select the food that you do? Is it delicious, nutrient rich and nourishing? Or is it convenient, processed, and something that you’re eating because you think you should? How often do you cook your own nourishing meals?

Do you connect to something outside of yourself on a regular basis? Prayer, gratitude, forgiveness or other practices? What sustains and anchors you? How about play and pleasure? Or is this an area that’s malnourished and pushed to the back burner? Is pleasure a forbidden, scary thing? If yes, why? And finally, once your cup is full with true nourishment in various forms how do you offer that out to others? This isn’t just about what you’re getting, accumulating, doing, and using, there is a boomerang effect to nourishment as well. Once you have filled up your own cup it’s time to help “feed” and uplift others.

Building a supportive, consistent routine of nourishing practices, habits, relationships, and choices is the true nourishment that sustains and strengthens us.
This is not about being perfect, punishing yourself or being a purist. Instead, this is about bringing ease, fun, and enjoyment (healthy nourishment) to all areas of your life. We live in a time when we have access to more Healthy Discoveries – resources, options, practices and support than ever before. Start now. Make nourishment a part of your daily focus.

To Learn More about Jolene Park and Healthy Discoveries, Visit: