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Founder & CEO, Ward Blanchard & Allison Christie, COO

Question: What do yo-yos, baby sharks, bowling, virtual reality, basketball games, and behavioral health care professionals have in Common?
Answer: Ward Blanchard– innovator, inspirer and collaborator.

Little did I know when life took a side turn and I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina recently to help out my good friend, Dr. James Flowers  (JFlowers Health Institute and Kemah Palms), that I was going to meet and experience the hospitality of Ward Blanchard (Blanchard Institute). The Blanchard Institute is an exceptional substance abuse and mental health treatment center, which fosters community, industry collaboration   and is chocked full of cutting-edge knowledge tossed with graciousness and a good time. We celebrated the Fourth Annual Recovery Awareness Day (RAD), a time for reflecting on recent successes and looking to the future with bright eyes and open hearts.

Gary Fisher, Cirque Lodge, Leslie Crowley

Beginning with a recovery speech by Ryan Leaf, sponsored by BRC Recovery, the audience was reminded that narcissism has no place in recovery. Next up we all had a chance to learn from CEO Sam Bierman of Maryland Addiction Treatment Centers how he collaborates seamlessly with Caron Treatment Centers to benefit clients and their families. Using this as a model, one can visualize how this type of arrangement may be duplicated with others.

As a social worker and author of The Definitive Guide to Addiction Intervention: Collective Strategies, this discussion fits first with my assumption that an intervention is in its most literal form an “invitation to change and takes place on many different levels” and employs the use of  “Collective Intervention Strategies” or CIS, which I espouse in the book.

As a clinician and interventionist, I work directly with communities, treatment centers, families and their loved ones on alcohol and other drug misuse and abuse, process disorders, mental health, and chronic pain issues. To unpack and address the complex nature of these issues, I find it helpful to use what I call a “collective intervention strategy,” a play in my playbook like any successful business that is effective at unpacking complex issues on the micro (individual), macro (family and small group) and mezzo (community and national) levels. Here is a breakdown of what I mean when I say “collective intervention strategy”:

Collective in that we need a community of families, friends, colleagues, associates, business partners, managers, and/or co-workers to work together towards change.

Intervention in that we seek to move (i.e. motivate) a person, a family, an industry (behavioral health care i.e. addiction and mental health) a community, or our world to come to a place of change.

Strategy – in that nothing is set in stone; rather strategies are developed and flexible depending on the circumstances using the best modalities possible.

This type of discussion continued with a panel of CEOs’ Jack Kline, Red Oak Recovery, Lenny Segal, Pace Recovery, Journey Pure, Executive, Patrick Dunn and Bryan Sylvain, Executive Director of Headwaters at Origins, who highlighted current behavioral health problems that are confronting the industry and CEOs across the country.

Top on the list was ethics, quality care as well as insurance reimbursement and affordability of treatment. Credentials and licensure of professionals was mentioned as well as the reality that the behavioral health care industry is one of the few medical industries when it comes to asking about why it costs so much. No one ever questions their hospital bills or their family doctor or surgeon, however, when one seeks treatment for addiction and mental illness costs are always questioned. 

In addition to listening to many wonderful speakers, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of Dr. James Flowers about chronic pain and addiction and the strategies to help clients and their families. You can check out the presentation here.

Cirque Lodge therapist Wendy Haddock C.M.H.C. – who has a “heart for people who struggle with dysregulation and underdeveloped life skills” – spoke about trauma, its etiology and the many effective therapies that one can use to help clients.

Rounding out the day was the knowledgeable double boarded medical director, Lantie Joranbly MD of Lakeview Health Treatment Centers in Florida. She shared the latest research on addiction, mental health and suicide along with strategies and questions for the future.

It is no secret that I have the privilege of attending and/or presenting at many conferences. I am honored to have been a part of the Fourth Annual RAD. The Blanchard Institute is setting a standard of excellence for regional conferences, one which I trust many industry leaders may emulate. A round of applause to Dr. James Flowers, CEO of JFlowers Health Institute, and Kemah Palms for allowing me to fill in and to Ward Blanchard and The Blanchard Institute for welcoming me. I look forward to next year!

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