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"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Summary of 5-28-2005 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nine parents representing six families attended our last meeting on May 28th. It was a good turnout for a holiday weekend.

As usual, we took a break after going around the group for brief introductions and updates. Then, for the first time we a did a special type of role-play that we call The Three Minute Drill. We passed out the following real life scenario:

The 18 year-old boy has been home on Probation for about three weeks after successfully completing Ridgeview inpatient. He was released on Home Detention because on his last home-pass his parents let him leave the home unsupervised for a few hours and he failed to return home by the specified time.

He has only been off Home Detention for about a day when the mother allowed him to take the family car to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The mother got off work early and went to parking lot of the church where the meeting was being held. She did not see the car in the parking lot. She sat there long enough to convince herself that he did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting the son did not come straight home. He contacted his mother by phone and she told him to come straight home. He did not come straight home. He was about a half-hour late on his curfew. In addition, the son rarely calls his sponsor. He states to her that he gets nothing out of the 12-step meetings and will not go to them at all once he is off probation. In summary, he is violating his Probation Contract in several ways and he is not invested in his recovery program.

The young man does not want to be held accountable for his behavior. Even more importantly, he does not want the mother to report what happened to the Probation Officer. Also, he does not admit that he was not at the meeting; he says it got out early.

The Three Minute Drill is one continous role-play where different parents take the hot seat, changing every three minutes. Rather than start each segment of the role-play over, when a new parent takes the hot seat the role-play continues where the last segment left off. In this role-play, Lloyd played the 18 year-old and Valerie kept track of the three mintues intervals.

Point #1: As the 18 year-old son, one of Lloyd’s primary goals was to convince the parent not to tell the PO about these problems. In an effort to drive a wedge between the parent and the Probation Officer, Lloyd acused each parent of “wanting my PO to take me to Shuman.” Lloyd was not successful in getting any of these tough parents to agree not to tell the Probation Officer. Parent1 especially took a very strong approach. Instead of denying the accusation, she agreed with her son in what turned out to be a stunning reply.

Son: If you tell my PO, he’ll take me Shuman. MOM, you know what he’s like. That’s what you want isn’t it? That’s what you’ve wanted all along, to get me taken out of here.

Parent1: “Yes. If that’s what it takes to get you to straighten up, then that’s what I want.”

Point #2: All these tough parents had good body language and eye contact when talking to Lloyd. However, Parent1 chose to move her chair in closer to Lloyd so that when she confronted him it appeared more powerful in spite of the fact that she never raised her voice even one notch.

Point #3: Lloyd wanted to get a lot of credit from his parent that he had at least called home. As if the “call” made eveything all right. “You know I called you. Would I ever have called you before I went to Ridgeview?” The parents in the group did great at not letting that one call change the fact that during the call the Lloyd was told to come home immediately and he failed to do that. Then, he didn’t even make it home by curfew. Remember, when teenagers cry out for credit it is usually a good idea to give it to them. Tell them that you are glad they called. Let them know that you would have been even more worried about them if they didn’t call. However, it does not change the fact that you will hold them accountable.

Point #4: Do not confuse telling the PO with accountability. Yes, telling the PO is a type of accountability and parents should not agree to keep secrets from the Probation Officer (none of the parents in our group fell for that one.) However, the parent does not have to wait for the PO to hold the teenager accountable. Take the car keys immediately. Ground this teenager until further notice. If possible, start to drive him to his 12-step meetings and pick him up. Do this until you can start to feel like you can trust him again. As everyone in the group realized, this is not a situation where the PO would take a teenager to Shuman, and parents can often be more effective than the PO in holding their the tenager accountable.

Special thanks to the brave parents for participating in this drill and for granting permission to allow us to video tape the role-play for training purposes only. For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on June 11th.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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Summary of 5-14-05 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, May 14, 2005

Thirteen parents representing ten families attended our last meeting on May 14. It was great to see some new members in the group.

As usual, we took a break after going around the group for brief introductions and updates. Then we came back to group with the following role-play.

The teenage son (played by Parent1) faces off with his mother (played by Parent2.) The son has been placed at Abraxas I and he blames the mother for everything. He says that if she had not said what she said in Court then he would not be placed at Abraxas I. If she had let him come home after Ridgeview, the Court would not have committed him to Abraxas I. The teenage son believes that it is the mother’s entire fault.

It was a good effort by Parent2 and Parent1. It was the first time we had a husband and wife face off against each other. Parent2 was firm and did not allow Parent1 to manipulate her with GUILT. Of course, that was Parent1’s primary weapon. Parent1 kept harping on this refrain, “Why can’t you just admit that you put me here?” Parent2 pointed out that Ridgeview staff and Lyn Redick also recommended Abraxas I. Parent1 responded, “If you didn’t tell Lyn Redick and Ridgeview what you told them they wouldn’t have wanted me to go to Abraxas. It’s all your fault. This place isn’t going to help me.”

Point #1: Often the dialogue becomes dead-ended:

Mother: “You put yourself here.”
Son: “No, you put me here.”
Mother: “When are you going to wake up and take responsibility for your own behavior?”
Son: “Why can’t you admit that it’s your fault I’m up here? You know if you hadn’t said all that bad stuff about me in Court I wouldn’t be here! You just don’t want me at home.”
Mother: “You put yourself at Abraxas by failing at Ridgeview.”
Son: “The people up here even say I don’t belong here- I should be home! But you just don’t want me!”

Note the difference when a parent models the “taking responsibility” approach.

Mother: “You blame me, you think it’s my fault that you are at Abraxas.”
Son: “Yeah. You put me here- you know you did.”
Mother: “Yes, I had a lot to do with it.”
Son: “A lot to do with it my as&. If it wasn’t for the stuff you said in Court, I’d be home now.”
Mother: “Yes. You are right. I did everything I could do to see that you get the help you need. And I’d do it all again for you.”
Son: “Help? This place can’t help me. I don’t belong up here. Even the people up here say that I don’t need this place. I should be home.”
Mother: “I think you should be home too.”
Son: “Then why did you put me up here?”
Mother: “I’m afraid you’ll kill yourself with drugs- that’s why.”

Point #2: Now that the mother has taken responsibility for her role, it opens the door for the son to begin to take responsibility for his actions. If the above conversation were to continue…

Mother: “You know, at some point I’m hoping that you can learn to take responsibility for your behavior.”
Son: “What are you talking about? I always take responsibility for my shi%.”
Mother : “Oh, I think you are busy blaming everyone else.”
Son: “Why, because I blame you for putting me in this Hell Hole?”
Mother: “Sure- that’s part of it. You always see yourself as a victim.”
Son: “Well, you know you put me here and I should be home.”
Mother: “There- you just did it again. You are a victim. And you can always find someone to blame for the stuff that happens to you. You choose to do drugs. You choose to break the law. In addition, you refused to accept any responsibility for your behavior when you were at Ridgeview. That is why Lynn Redick, Ridgeview, the Intake Officer and I all worked to put you here.”
Son: “That sucks. You just don’t want me.”
Mother: “I want you- but I want you when you can learn to take responsibility for your own actions and when you can quit blaming others for your problems. And as far as I’m concerned you need to learn to do that before you come home- no matter how long that takes.”

Clearly, in this last example we can see that guilt will not work to move this mother. Nor can the conversation be dead-ended because she will admit that she worked to give him more treatment. Now the mother is going to label his victim stance behavior in real time as it happens. Therefore, the son discovers that his manipulations will fail because not only does mother not work to get him out sooner (because she feels guilty) but also she wants him to stay until he can take ownership for his problems. No matter how long that takes. This becomes a clear message to this young man that he had better get to work at Abraxas and not waste anytime.

For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on May 28.

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