“…In With the New” – Introducing our Upcoming CRAFT Skills Class!

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A big part of our mission here at Full Life Counseling includes finding new ways for our clients to perceive and respond to situations in their lives. Whether making sense out of confusion, turning crises into opportunities, or simply putting fresh skills into practice, we love being partners with our clients in dancing to the tune of real transformation.

Sometimes, that transformation can require a lot. But, just like buying a new car, transformation is a process! Rarely do people walk away from a dealership without some sort of financing plan as part of their purchase – that plan helps to structure the investment that has been made, and starts the process of “transforming” an auto loan into a fully-owned vehicle.

We’re excited to officially announce the upcoming launch of a new service at Full Life that will give families tools they need to help structure their “investment” in healthy change – change for themselves, their relationships, and – hopefully – in the lives of their loved ones.

Starting on August 30th, we will be hosting a new CRAFT Skills Class that will meet for 5 consecutive weeks, on Tuesday nights from 6:00 – 7:30. The cost for the 5-week class is $200 per family, and the class will be initially capped at 8 families. After the 5-week class portion, a free and self-facilitated support group for CRAFT Skills Class Graduates will be available until the following class rotation.

CRAFT, a model developed by Drs. Robert Meyers and Jane Ellen Smith, provides techniques and insight that enhance the ability of family members to effectively communicate, set boundaries, practice self-care, and pursue professional help with loved ones whose substance use has become problematic.

An acronym for “Community Reinforcement and Family Training,” CRAFT does this in part by emphasizing Reinforcements for behaviors – behaviors of the person whose substance use has become a problem, and behaviors of the people in relationship with them. For example, instead of “punishing” a negative behavior (like making someone scrub toilets for coming home late), CRAFT focuses on amplifying the naturally-occurring reward processes of the brain by associating positive behaviors with positive results (like exchanging an afternoon at an amusement park for coming home on time sober for a week). In this way, the absence of the reward (or “reinforcement”) provides a “punishment” of sorts that prevents injury and promotes cognitive connection-building.

(home on time) + (sober for 1 week) = (trip to park) = :)

(home late) + (high) = (no park) = :(

CRAFT also explores ways of communicating and interacting that disentangle enabling patterns, helping families get “un-stuck.” Techniques such as turning negatives into positives, communicating understanding, identifying emotions, and sharing responsibility all contribute to decreased interpersonal conflict and improved mental and relational health. Going even further, CRAFT explores problem solving, safety planning, and relapse prevention.

While some of these concepts seem relatively simple, putting them into consistent practice can be extremely difficult without support. But, when used well, these tools can have powerful impacts in both the lives of the person whose behavior is in question, and of the person seeking a change. CRAFT has undergone extensive research and has been cited as effective in many different aspects of improving the lives of families using CRAFT principles. These aspects include:

  • Helping a loved one enter treatment willingly (in one study, up to 74% of families succeeded in this)
  • Decreased depression, anger, anxiety, and somatic symptoms for the family members of those abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Positively influencing the choices of both the person using substances and the family members interacting with the individual
    [from http://alliesinrecovery.net/about-craft/ ]

And as stated by Dr. Meyers:

“No one has better information about the substance user’s behavior patterns than a close family member. CRAFT teaches… how to use this information in a motivational way to increase the chance of the substance user entering treatment. CRAFT research has shown that almost 7 out of 10 people who use the program get their substance user to attend treatment.”
– and –
“CSOs*… also benefit by becoming more independent and reducing their depression, anxiety and anger symptoms even if their loved one does not enter treatment.”
[from http://www.robertjmeyersphd.com/craft.html; bolding added. *CSO: “Concerned Significant Other”]

As indicated by the title of the model, it does involve “Training”! While won’t be doing push-ups or clocking how fast we can make it down the hall here at FLC; wewill be diving into the process of recognizing that sometimes, old habits die REALLY hard, and, new ones take lots of practice and support to come alive. The CRAFT Skills Class is a great place to try new things while being supported in an encouraging environment, and to get over the hiccups and snags that can knock us off track due to discouragement.

The class will operate on a 5-week cycle that follows the curriculum below:

  1. Getting to Know You: Becoming familiar with your loved one’s substance use
  2. Dis-enabling: Game-changing strategies for holding boundaries with compassion
  3. Communication Keys: New ways to communicate familiar messages so they’re heard the way you hoped
  4. Teamwork: Suggesting outside help without the hurt
  5. Recap & Debrief

Each session will utilize worksheets and discussions that are based on CRAFT concepts and content outlined in Drs. Meyers and Wolfe’s book GetCRAFT book Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening*** This book will be a companion resource for the class, and is available for individual purchase.

We are looking forward to the ways in which this class and support group might meet some of the requests of our clients for simple, practical steps to make changes in their lives. As the program is part skills-building and part support-network, it will be a great opportunity to hash out what’s working and what needs fine-tuning – all while being surrounded by other people who understand, and who can provide encouragement along the way.

So, for those who are list-people (like myself), here’s the nuts-and-bolts version:
New CRAFT Skills Class startingTuesday, August 30th, at 6:00pm
Class will be facilitated by Full Life staff member Chase Salmons, NCC
– Cost for 5-week class membership:$200 per family
– Free, open, ongoing support group for graduates to meet in between 5-week class rotations
– Additional resource:Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening (Meyers & Wolfe)

If you’re considering whether your situation might benefit from the CRAFT class, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my loved one unlikely to seek outside help at this point?
  • Am I feeling frustrated and confused about why my sincere efforts to help my loved one seem to produce nothing but negative results?
  • Is my own emotional, mental, and relational world in need of some balance?
  • If my loved one has already accepted some outside help, am I still afraid that our future interactions will lead us to the same bad places?
  • Am I open to “taking inventory” of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs behind my response to this situation, and make some adjustments for the sake of my loved one and myself?

If you’re able to answer any of these with a “yes,” then know that CRAFT was designed with you and your situation in mind. While the CRAFT principles can be applied to any relationship, its fundamental goal is to help families wrestling with these questions. Contact our office for more information.

Additional Resources provided by the Center for Motivation & Change:

***While Drs. Meyers and Wolfe present scientifically-backed information about the success rates and impact of CRAFT in the lives of families, Full Life Counseling does not in any way guarantee that by participating in the CRAFT group or by implementing the techniques discussed therein that you will “get your loved one sober”; an individual’s recovery from substance abuse is the responsibility of that individual alone. What CRAFT offers is an alternative perspective and strategies to assist families in establishing healthier boundaries, living more balanced emotional lives, and in supporting their loved one through the process of seeking professional help. In this way, CRAFT seeks to enrich the lives of both the person with addiction AND their family member.

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