Clear Springs Ranch

Spiritual Corner

Becoming Better Helpers

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Treatment is always striving to change for the better. New methods and approaches seem to appear every year. That’s especially true in an era of emphasis on Evidence-Based Practice, or EBP.

Put simply, an EBP is any approach to treatment that has been shown to be effective through well-designed, well-conducted research by qualified scientists. For addictions, examples of EBPs include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and Twelve Step Facilitation (TSF), among others. There are important differences between them, but all three have one thing in common: studies have shown they are effective.

At the Ranch, we hold that treatment works best when it integrates evidence-based practices with the expertise and judgment of an experienced counselor. Our goal is to provide our clients with the tools for successful recovery and the information they need to make their own decisions about how best to use them. Of course, your decisions will be unique to you as a person, and reflect your individual goals, interests, values, and needs. That’s called person-centered planning, and the client is indeed at the center of it.

Because counselors need to continue learning and developing new skills, we place considerable emphasis on professional development. The idea is that as counselors build new skills to use in their work, our clients and their families will benefit through better outcomes.

One way to foster growth is through a professional development plan (PDP). Once a year, counselor and supervisor sit down together to review the counselor’s progress during the preceding 12 months, and set goals and objectives for the future.

For instance, a counselor might decide to target improvement in his or her ability to work productively with couples who are experiencing problems in their relationships. The counselor identifies two workshops he or she will attend during the year, as well as specific skills or competencies that require development, and objective measures of improvement in clinical practice. The supervisor reviews the counselor’s objectives and may add further recommendations. They set up a schedule of meetings going forward to review progress. That can include opportunities for the supervisor to sit in on live sessions  and observe the counselor at work.

It’s all part of a larger process known as clinical supervision that we at Clear Springs believe will make us better helpers. And we can’t think of anything more important than that.

Counselor building

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Counselor building2

The new Counselor Building will be ready for its occupants soon!

Approaching someone about their drinking or drug use

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It’s never easy to approach someone about a problem with alcohol or drugs. We rarely get a warm welcome. But here are some suggestions for improving your chances of a fair hearing…

  1. Avoid loaded terms like ‘alcoholic’ and ‘addict’. Someone in denial will fiercely reject a label such as these. But that’s OK. All we really need is for the subject of our concern to acknowledge a problem that merits help.  
  2. Offer evidence, not accusations. When we accuse someone of bad behavior, their first response is to defend themselves — and that turns the discussion into an argument. Instead, we want to provide examples of the negative effects of that individual’s drinking or drug use — on them, as well as on us. 
  3. Try to avoid getting visibly angry. It’s fine to describe how upset you were about a particular event or occurrence, but there’s no practical benefit to getting mad all over again. We run the risk of pushing the ‘fight-flight’ button. Once that happens, rational discussion ends, until next time.  
  4. Anticipate objections. You’ve likely already heard someone’s objections to seeking help. They’ll  range from denial (“I don’t need help”) to rationalization (“I can’t afford to do anything about it at the moment”) to externalizing (“You’re the one with the problem, not me”) to minimizing (“It’s not that bad”). Because such objections are predictable, you can prepare responses in advance. Having a calm, reasonable response is the best way to counter them.  
  5. Have a plan in place.  Take the time to research the various options for professional help so you can provide accurate, helpful information about where to go and what to do. Even if your loved one isn’t ready for treatment at present, you can plant the seed for later discussion, when the next crisis occurs.

And there almost always is one.   

Scott McMillin, Recovery Systems Institute, LLc

It’s All About Values

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It’s all about values…

The core values of an organization are the ones that form the foundation of our daily life — the values we set out to live by. We devoted much time during the early days of The Ranch developing our core values. Here they are:


Satisfaction and Servicewe seek to practice our philosophy of cus­tomer service excellence in every aspect of our work. This isn’t easy. You have to put yourself in the place of a patient or family member and view your operation from their perspective. The goal is always to meet or exceed their expectations. And you have to be honest to recognize when you have not met that goal, and take steps to improve.


Commitment to recoverywe strive to foster the spirit of recovery, personal growth, and positive change in all our activities and programs. Recovery is much more than being substance-free. It’s learning to live differently. It’s discovering new ways to grow and change, to solve problems, handle stress, build positive relationships, ask for help when you need it… recovery touches every area of your life.


Professionalism we commit to the highest standards of ethi­cal and professional conduct. Being a professional means adherence to a code of ethical conduct based on the idea that the client’s welfare is our first priority. It’s not always an easy standard to live up to, but we’re committed to it.


Cooperationwe seek to ensure the best possible coordination of care with other professionals, so as to achieve optimal outcomes for patient and family. Recovery often means working with a variety of helping professionals — physicians, therapists, counselors, etc. — and unless there is some coordination among them, confusion may reign. We work hard to prevent that from happening.


Staff Developmentwe encourage professional and career advancement, in order to foster a motivated workforce of greatest value to our patients and families. In addiction treatment, we talk a lot about the competencies needed to be an effective counselor, and the importance of building new skills instead of simply relying on old ones.


Continuing improvement we pursue continued growth as individu­als and as an organization, through an ongoing process of self-examination and change. Just as you commit to a journey of lifelong change, so too does The Ranch. We’re not willing to settle for being less than we can be.


John Lacy

Founder, The Ranch at Clear Springs

Why Can’t I Stay Clean and Sober on my Own?

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Why Can’t I Stay Clean & Sober on My Own?

Because personal motivation alone isn’t enough. Some observations:

Motivation naturally fluctuates from day to day. Some days you’re enthusiastic, other days you barely struggle through. You’re more likely to relapse on one of those inevitable bad days.

Resolutions fade with time. We begin with good intentions, but we need something to supplement our resolve. That’s why people buy motivational products such as exercise videos and self-help books. We enroll in workshops and classes, purchase gym memberships, hire personal trainers. We’re hoping it will help prop up our motivation when it sags. All too often, those self-help books and exercise machines wind up sitting unnoticed in a closet.

Life is full of ‘de-motivators’ that interfere with progress. Perhaps we don’t get the hoped-for praise and recognition for our efforts to change.  We keep running into negative people who make depressing and annoying remarks like (after three weeks on the new diet) “have you picked up some weight?”

Doesn’t the world realize how hard we’re trying? No. The world at large is concerned with matters other than us. We may have the lead in our own drama, but we’re bit players in everyone else’s.

For most who seek to make profound life changes, success depends on seeking and accepting help from others who understand and share our problems – help that can provide the support, recognition, encouragement and understanding that we need to keep going when the going gets tough.       

Another consideration: there’s good evidence that helping someone else with similar struggles increases our own chances for success. We need not only to seek help from others, but to become helpers ourselves. That’s something recovery fellowships provide, and at no cost.


C. Scott McMillin,