BELIEVE IT AND ACHIEVE IT. I give credit for that statement to both Jesse Jackson and Zig Ziglar. It is very powerful.

Credit needs to go to Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck, M.D. too. These are the founders of ABC Theory, REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Theory and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Theory). What’s the takeaway from their messages.

It’s all about our beliefs. More on this as we go along.

Number Nine is one of the favorite Recovery Themes of the people I have worked with. It is probably the most favorite based on how the print characters were nearly worn off the page.

I had a copy of these themes on the wall just left of where my clients sat during our talks. “Meeting the clients where they are at” is a mantra or credo of this field. It was the same in my previous profession where we were taught to “know thy client.” Their theme choices gave me insight to their beliefs.

The clients were asked which of the Recovery Themes they liked the best. That’s why the lettering was worn off of Number Nine: Anyone can do anything. Most people chose that one.

Why do you think that is? Think of this. If he can do it, I can do it. If she can do it I can do it. If they can do it we can do it. It’s empowering. Because it’s true.

I had a dear friend, Jose Krall who was from France. He was a master chef and baker with 40 years experience. He owned the Maui Bake Shop. His product cases were like an art gallery. His food was just excellent. His cheesecake was a delight.

If I wanted to make a cheesecake like his would I have to practice for 40 years? Or could I model him and use his recipe to produce a fine pastry? If he can do it, I can do it if I follow his instructions and recipe. Anyone can do anything using this approach. Modeling is powerful.

If you want to learn more about modeling using VAK (visual, auditory and kinesthetic – feeling – senses, you may want to purchase the Criminal Justice and Addictions PDF.

I can be your model for sobriety, abstinence and Transcendence. If I can do it anyone can do it. Believe it…


Sometimes it’s easy to be really hard on ourselves and heap on the blame – for everything. That is an example of irrational thinking and hurtful, negative self-talk. We and therapists need to listen to our Meta Model clues or violations. The Meta Model will be explained more later.

Due to a faulty belief/values system our map of reality becomes clouded or distorted. Recovery Theme Six points out that “People always make the best choice available to them at the time.” There could have been many other choices had we been aware of them or stopped to examine them.

But, “Every behavior is useful in some context” as Recovery Theme Seven tells us. Even illicit drug use or other crimes are useful in some way. They’re just not legal. Selling drugs to support a habit could be useful. Quick cash, no forty hour week, pays the bill now, are all reasons one could find to use or do crime.

It’s as Oprah says: “When you know better you do better.”

So, it’s not a matter of “will you be caught? It’s a matter of when.” And if you always do what you’ve always done…you know what will happen. Back to the slammer. If you live. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. This includes drunk driving or OUID, maybe marijuana.

So, trying to build a “New You” is about and exploring more new and better choices. Carl Rogers said “Clients have the ability to explore and resolve their own issues given a healthy environment.” Hopefully this blog will provide the healthy platform you need. And remember, Choice is Better Than No Choice (Recovery Theme Number Eight). You will learn more and better choices here so you can do better.


You, I and people in general sometimes seem overwhelmed or like we have met our end. There is an ebb and flow to life. It has its ups and downs. But we sometimes irrationally take it to mean the end, or failure.

Nobody is 100% successful at 100% of what they do 100% of the time. I lose track of this just like others do. Why? Maybe it’s the expectation of perfection all the time. But that just does not happen.

“Catch it, Check it, Change it” is good advice. When you have a troubling thought, catch it. Check it: what’s that about? That’s not empowering. Then change it to an empowering, positive thought.

So, learning to question our self-talk can help. It can help to learn effective re-framing techniques. It’s good to learn to not be so hard on ourselves. How we define success and failure is important.

Tiger Woods has an interesting philosophy. To paraphrase him, “You get out of it [life] what you put into it. If you don’t succeed or get a lot out of it you didn’t work hard enough. You don’t deserve it.”

Maybe he is being too hard on himself. We know that he has worked hard his whole life at his profession. He is having a difficult time now. But he has not quit. As of this update, 4/2/2020, he has recovered and won a Master’s Tournament.

Persistence and patience are important. But we must have S.M.A.R.T. Goals as well. Having been trained (the right education for your goal) is important. Then, one should have a fair chance or opportunity to succeed. Opportunity is important.

But without desire and the necessary drive none of these will work on their own. So it’s important to understand how we work so that we can improvise to adapt to ever changing (ups and downs) life situations.

You’re not broken states Recovery Theme #5. You simply need to learn how you function best. You can change your behavior to get better life outcomes.


This is about Recovery Theme Number Four. Why people use has been covered previously. As with all behavior we humans tend to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

That’s why we use alcohol and other drugs. We want to feel different (away) from how we feel to how we expect (toward) to feel. We probably want to feel better.

But if all we know to get out of this rut is alcohol or other drugs then that is the behavior choice we will make. Requisite (required) variety of choices can help people make better choices and changes. In this case, to change alcohol or other drug using behaviors.

Now, it’s time for a test. Looking at the behavior choice part of the map we can see that just prior to that are feelings and emotions. If we have more tools (requisite variety) for changing our feelings and emotions, then, we have a better chance to make the appropriate behavior choice: to remain abstinent. That’s what we are doing here. Creating more tools.


Just reading over this information is not good enough. It’s important that you understand the concepts. Now is the time to go back over these three ideas.

In a prior post you were introduced to the Cognitive Behavior Map. I mentioned before that the map should be mastered as well. Go back and study that to make sure you have an understanding.

Notice what you are noticing. How do Recovery Themes one, two and three relate to the map? What about self-talk? How we communicate with ourselves may be just as important as how we talk with others.

We tend to move toward pleasure and away from pain. The way we communicate with others can produce painful or pleasurable feelings and emotions for those people. For us too.

We’ve heard of toxic people. Some people may tend to be more negative than others. Do you tend to want to associate more often with negative or positive people?

It’s been said that we get what we think about. If we are always thinking negative we may always get negative outcomes. Limiting beliefs can lead to irrational thoughts, feelings, emotions and then – behavior.

Yes. This can have a cause and effect relationship with substance abuse. So you see: The meaning of our communication is so important because we get what we throw out there. It’s important to be careful how we talk with ourselves too.


There is only perception. People respond to their own map of reality and not reality itself.

We arrive at the here and now with all that has been imprinted and learned in our lives. So, what’s been imprinted? Fair question. The answer is all of our beliefs, values and attitudes about how it ‘really’ is. These become our reality.

How is this important to any of us? Here are a few examples.

Suppose we are observing a drug court client going through the process while we get to watch a split-screen of a drug court judge’s reaction to how the client is doing.

Based on the client’s map of reality it is okay to use alcohol and other drugs as well as to commit the crimes for which she/he has been charged. These crimes are by definition anti-social. But the client believes they are okay.

The judge on the other hand is thinking maybe this person does not get it. Maybe this client is just refusing to comply or change. Again, by definition, the judge is looking at the situation from a pro-social criminal justice point of view.

Between the two parties someone’s map of reality must change if the client is to be successful in the program and graduate. And – you can bet it is not the judge’s map that must change.

One of the judge’s in my area is known to tell the clients that “society is not going to change for you. It is you who must change your thinking and behavior (your map of reality).

The mother of the client may be saying “the reality is that the judge is not being fair with my girl.” The prosecutor’s map is saying that “the client needs to go to jail.” The public defender is saying “no, my client needs treatment, not jail. She needs to be free so she can work and support her family.” If this involved a burglary the victim is saying “she’s got to pay me back and then she can go to jail.”

We are talking about the same event (remember the map) but we can see that each party has a different perception or reality of what has been done and what needs to be done.

That is Recovery Theme #3 in a nutshell. There is no such thing as reality. People respond to their map of reality and not reality itself.

You must be ready to explore your reality or you would not be here.

The good news is…these maps can be changed. More on that to follow.


The meaning or quality of the communication is the response that you get. Communication is about getting the intended response from the listener. Is the recovery message clear? This is Recovery Theme number two.

Can the effectiveness of our communication with others affect our feelings and emotions. Think of a time in your experience when you were in a debate. Or, maybe a heated discussion with a significant other. Have you ever arrived at the point where you were frustrated? Or even angry.

I know I’ve experienced that. Maybe the more important the issue the more frustrated or angry one could become. Frustration is a feeling. Anger is an emotion.

As can be seen by the map in a previous post, it is feelings and emotions that precede behavior choices and outcomes. Does self-talk matter? By the way. It might be a good idea to master the map as we will visit it often.

Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are really cruel or insulting. You know: “You stupid whatever…” We’ve all done it at one time or another. And it does not have a good ending mostly. Only more feelings of anger. Perhaps hopeless, helpless or worthless are felt as a result.

If other people talked to us that way it could get ugly. We may not want them as friends.

So you see, the meaning of the communication is the response that you get. And yes, communication can affect feelings, emotions and behavior choices.

The Assertive Communication Model is a tool that will be of benefit. It could serve us well even with self-talk.

Imagine a significant other has said something cruel or done something that is not okay with you. It might even be a user friend who wants you to use with her. How should one respond? A simple example follows.

When I hear or experience ___________
I feel…(bad, less than, insulted, hurt, etc.)
I would prefer___________(something more desirable or acceptable).
If this can be worked out I will be more comfortable or it will be okay between us.

This is so simple. Four simple sentences that say it all. There is no finger pointing or accusing. You don’t even use the you word. One simply takes ownership of feelings (“I” statements) and states a preference that will lead to desired outcomes.

Now a question. Could you use the Assertive Communication Model to flip your script even with yourself? Sure you can. You can be more kind to yourself when things don’t work right now the way you wanted them to.


An explanation of the relevance of the Recovery Themes could be useful at this point. It is very empowering for the clients to realize just how much control they have over their feelings and emotions.

Recovery Theme 1 is an example of how effective these themes can be for ourselves and our clients. As can be seen on the map image (p. 15, Drug Court Treatment: The Verdict) in a previous post, feelings and emotions are what lead to our behavior choices.

In the box just before that labeled Internal Maps we find that they are made of pictures, sounds, feelings, smells and taste. These are the basic five senses we use to navigate our world. They are our GPS navigation system.

The three primary senses we use in communication are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. These are see, hear and feel. Multi Modal Learning tells us that we have a preferred learning system. We are primarily either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

The best way to learn something new is through our preferred system first. This can be strengthened by following up with the secondary and tertiary modes. It’s the same with communication. We have a preferred system and we use it over and over.

This information can be very useful understanding ourselves and others better. In subsequent posts I’m going to show how all of the Recovery Themes fit together to create a powerful strengths based tool kit. This will be developed further while explaining themes two and three.

You will see how they all work together to help you create the “New You.”


Recovery Themes and Ideas*

Before I do that, we cannot go any further without covering what I call recovery themes. Take some time to consider which of these makes the most sense to you in your personal experience. Which of these might you adopt as your own? Which of these would you want your children or grandchildren to become aware of or use? Which could be helpful for clients? Granted, not all of these will be true 100% of the time. Take what you can and leave the rest. All the clients liked at least one of these. Many chose several. Clinicians at other workshops said they are all useful in some context. These themes go with the map at the top of the previous post. You can choose more than one.

  1. Communication is redundant. We are always communicating in all three major Sensory Modalities: visual, auditory and Kinesthetic (VAK). We all have our preferred learning and communication styles. These are learned in class or workshops.
  2. The meaning or quality of the communication is the response that you get. Communication is about getting the intended response from the listener. Is the recovery message clear?
  3. People respond to their map of reality and not reality itself. These maps have structure or syntax (VAK, KAV, AVK, etc.) Maps can be changed to get desired outcomes. We create our realities. This can be empowering or limiting. Are you V, A or K?
  4. Requisite variety can help people make changes to get desired outcomes. The more tools or flexibility one has the better his chances of success in recovery. Give the client the tools needed.
  5. People work perfectly. No one is wrong or broken. It’s simply a matter of finding out ‘how’ they function now so that we can effectively change that to something more useful or desirable. Treatment is about change and helping clients get to their next level.
  6. People always make the best choice available to them at the time: given their situation (the event), beliefs, values and attitudes. There may be a wealth of better choices that have not been examined. But, the belief system must be changed first as Ellis suggested in his ABC Theory***.
  7. Every behavior is useful in some context. Even drug use and crime. It is just not appropriate.
  8. Choice is better than no choice. Treatment is about giving clients more and better choices.
  9. Anyone can do anything. If one person can do something it is possible to model that behavior or skill and teach it to anyone else. Of course, we cannot expect to violate the laws of Physics or nature and expect to be successful. Desired outcomes must be realistic to be achievable.
  10. People already have all the resources they need to examine and resolve their own issues given the right counseling in a suitable environment. Carl Rogers might fully endorse this theme.
  11. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. We learn from our trials and errors.
  12. Chunking is a way to accomplish any task. If we break goals down we can be successful with anything such as with ‘one day at a time’, a famous AA slogan. (Alcoholics Anonymous)
  13. Positive intent. All behavior begins with a positive intent. Even substance abuse or crime. Again, we must remember that AOD/CTC could be problematic as well as not be legal.

For those who want more information about these ideas see “Criminal Justice and Addictions Counseling” in the catalog.


*These are based on Major Presuppositions or tenets of the work of Richard Bandler, PhD., and John Grinder, PhD. It is adapted and reproduced here with permission from Tom Dotz, Colorado, where I did a training course. This writer feels that these presuppositions can be adjunct modalities of treatment to effect change with  Applied Cognitive Behavior Theories.



FIG. 1, p. 15, “Drug Court Treatment: The Verdict”

You’ve heard it before. A picture is worth a thousand words (Confucius, Fred Barnard). That’s why I present this illustration.

There is a book that I really like written by Kenneth Wanberg and Harvey Milkman showing an illustration depicting the same concept. The image looks like an electrical diagram rather than a picture of our “operating system.”

While the electric diagram is totally accurate it can be confusing and intimidating to some folks. Clients told me that facial image  illustration makes much more sense to them. Others have said the same thing. To me this picture explains the Cognitive Behavior Theory process as well as the ABC Theory of Albert Ellis.

On page 14 of my book I describe the ABC Theory. Simply, Ellis said that “it is not the event (A) that determines our behavior (C) but rather our (B) beliefs about the event. So, we have(A) the event followed by (B) our beliefs about the event that lead to (C) our behavior. Thus, ABC.

Master these ideas and you will understand how to stop unwanted behavior.

While we are here we can examine what the map is saying. The event occurs and we filter the meaning of the event based on our beliefs, values and attitudes. We are exposed to millions of bits of information on a daily basis. Our brain knows that we cannot process all of these pieces of data. So the data are filtered.We delete, distort and generalize the information based on our ‘imprints’.

Imprints are critical when it comes to understanding old behavior and learning new behavior.

This includes using alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and criminal thinking and conduct (CTC). Konrad Lorenz is given credit here for this theory. He discovered baby geese will bond with the first image they see after birth as if it were their mother. In his case the goslings bonded with his boots and followed him around like he was the mother, if I have the story correct. He postulated that these imprints are permanent.Why is this important to mention here?

Our history or learning has everything to do with how we interpret and define ourselves and our world. So often it is past events that limit us in the present or prevent having our desired outcomes or futures. Imprints can occur at the molecular level, the psychological level and the social level. So, we and our behaviors truly are biopsychosocial in nature.

As we filter data we turn it into a thought stack made up of decisions, attributions, appraisals and expectations (follow the arrows). Don’t people use drugs or act based on their expectations of what is supposed to happen by using them? Remember? We avoid pain and seek pleasure.

We then form solid internal maps of our reality based on our five senses. All of us experience our realities by seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting.

If our restaurant server presents a messy plate (see) that (smells) like it is decaying already we are certain that we don’t need a taste. We (expect) it will be terrible. We (feel ) bad enough already. Our self-talk (hear) says no – don’t eat it. But you (taste) it anyway and send it back (if you are assertive) if it is not satisfactory.

The short name for the five senses is VAKOG. This is visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory. More generally they are see, hear, feel, smell and taste.

These lead directly to the next step which is feelings and emotions. As you can see by the flow (following the arrows) feelings and emotions lead to behavior choices. That’s why it is important to learn how to control your state. Your emotional state is what is meant here.

If you are sad you may act sad. If you are angry you may act or react in an angry manner. Could that be important in homes where domestic violence may be a problem? Seldom is a spouse happy and giggly and then turns around and backhands the other.

We can learn to map the outcomes that are more desirable. We have the power and resources already. We simply need access to them at the appropriate time. This will be demonstrated below.

This was a powerful lesson taught by Carl Rogers. He is a world famous therapist. To paraphrase him, “clients already have all the resources they need to explore and resolve their own issues given a healthy environment.” Hopefully, I as a guide would provide the healthy environment, online or in person.

What’s the take home message? Between the CBT Map above and the lessons taught to us by Albert Ellis and Carl Rogers there is HOPE for all of us. We are in charge of shaping our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behavior. We can re-imprint our history mentioned my Konrad Lorenz?

The map above is your operating system. It applies to each one of us. Nobody, not the neediest narcissist – is immune to that fact of life. Learn the map, how you and it are connected and you will discover that you are in charge of how you feel and your future. We examine ‘how to’ do that in the next post. The works of Aaron T. Beck, M.D. and Judith S. Beck, PhD will be used extensively throughout this medium. For more on them refer to Criminal Justice and Addictions Counseling in the catalog.

Additionally, I will be using the NAADAC definition referring to counseling services: “The interactive process of providing assistance to a client to help him/her change and maintain attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that are more constructive in their recovery process. The counselor must determine the most appropriate type of assistance and the counseling interventions to facilitate the change in behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. Counseling services include individual, group, family, crisis intervention counseling and psycho-education.” NAADAC Approved Education Provider #192679, Expires, 3/1/2022. National Association of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Counselors.