• Families and Addictions: Forgiveness as a Powerful Clinical Tool

      Camino-Gaztambide, Richard F.; Malavé de León, Eunice; Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior
      Short Description: Addictions are complex behaviors that have a profound impact on the individual, family, and society. Forgiveness can transform negative emotions for oneself or others to achieve or sustain recovery. The purpose of the workshop is to offer the clinical underpinnings that can facilitate the implementation of forgiveness in practice. Abstract: Addictions are complex behaviors that have a profound impact on the individual, family, and at a societal level. Although many see addictions as fundamentally a disease of the brain and clearly brain structures and functions are significantly involved, nevertheless, brain function alone does not address the consequences and profound effects that addictions have on the patient's ecosystem. Family, friends, co-workers, and neighborhood, all are altered with frequent feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and rejection present in all parties. Usually, these feelings are in response to real or perceived transgressions by one or more persons, and it is not uncommon that trauma is present, producing persistent stress which can interfere with recovery. The concept of forgiveness can be a powerful tool to help patients address the injury and trauma that they have done or received by others. Shame, defined as a “flawed self, often accompanied by feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness” is associated with negative feelings and poorer recovery. In contrast, guilt, that focuses more on the behavior not necessarily reflected as the total self, is more amenable to forgiveness. Forgiveness as a disposition to where the use of negative emotions for oneself or others can be transformed to achieve or sustain recovery. The Twelve-step facilitation model can be integrated, especially focusing on steps four through nine, as other models like Narrative, ACT, and CBT are also able to use the concept of forgiveness in effective ways. The purpose of the workshop is to provide basic theoretical and clinical underpinnings, use case presentations, interactive discussions, to provide skills that can facilitate the implementation of forgiveness in clinical practice. “Addiction is more than a disease and involves more than the brain: it is a systemic behavioral disorder.”