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How does Conscious Recovery differ from other systems?

Many clinicians in the traditional recovery systems feel depleted of energy after doing this kind of work. This happens when someone views their job as needing to do something for someone, or to make a person or group go a certain way, or wanting a particular breakthrough for a client. When a clinician thinks that the client is broken and that they need to fix them, it is an exhausting experience.

With Conscious Recovery, we view a client’s diagnosis or their addiction as a brilliant strategy. Viewing them from this perspective is a game changer, in that it opens up the opportunity to look for what is brilliant about someone’s survival strategy. For example, if someone is struggling with chronic depression, what might that brilliant strategy be trying to manage? Another example is if someone has a need to be accepted, approved of, loved, they may come up with a strategy to achieve that goal. So a strategy that might have been adaptive at one time might have become maladaptive later. The strategy may have kept them safe when they were a child or a teenager, but may lead to building walls and closing hearts as they grow older. That may eventually lead to addictions and addictive behaviors in order to protect the wound that was not healed.

With the Conscious Recovery system, rather than coming from a perspective of a diagnosis for someone’s behavior, we view it from the angle of what the strategy is serving. The foundation of Conscious Recovery lies in the knowing that underneath all the addictive behavior is an essential self that is whole and perfect. It is a fundamental shift for a client to view themselves as, “I’m not my wound,” to understand that “I have these wounds but this is not who I am.”

In many traditional recovery circles, patients are referred to by their diagnosis such as, “she’s so borderline…” Although the intention of these clinicians may be to help their clients, often being labeled by their diagnosis leads the client to take it on as an identity. Instead, in Conscious Recovery, we believe that a person’s diagnosis is not them – it was only a strategy to survive. We use the term #unharmable to help someone realize that regardless of the traumatic events there is still a place within them that is unharmable. From this perspective, CR clinicians can heal wounds in a different way.