The Path to Full Recovery and Joy

By Shari Schreiber, M.A.


You've landed on this Internet site because something in your life has gone horribly wrong, or you've struggled throughout much of your existence, and it seems there's no end in sight.

I wrote this because so many people who phoned me, wanted to know how my recovery methods were different from other sorts of therapies they've tried. As my practice grew too busy to respond to those queries, this article was created to provide illumination.

Many want happiness, but don't know how to acquire it. Integrated Recovery isn't for someone looking for a quick-fix. It's for those of you who have tried just about everything else, and are willing to take-on the courageous work that's required to get well, whole and genuinely happy. I'm not describing those brief episodes that come with finding romance, or purchasing a new car or house. I'm talking about an ongoing feeling inside you, that's tranquil and joyful.

In my view, all emotional dysfunction is brought about by core trauma. This early wounding shapes how we feel about, and take care of ourselves within personal and professional relationships. If the center or hub of your wheel is damaged, all the spokes which emanate from that point will be weak, and susceptible to breaking under any type of strain or pressure.

Let me be succinct; I am not in the therapy business~ I'm in the Healing business, which means we must repair and rebuild your core (or hub). Total Wellness is our goal, and transformational change is what you should expect from our work. This will require your determined, focused effort, but the rewards to you can be well beyond anything you've ever thought possible.

This is not designed to be long-term care. It's a growth-oriented, healing modality that aims to help you on your way within 18 months or less. My clients with personality disorder features may need more time, but I work as rapidly as I can with every individual, to bring about relief and expansion.

We go straight to the heart of your troubles here. Resignation is very different from resolution, and if you're only resigned about childhood disappointment or pain, those issues are keeping core shame alive, which undermines self-worth and taints all your life choices and decisions.

Integrated Recovery provides concrete tools specifically designed to dismantle and eliminate the 'negative tape,' that plays in the back of your psyche which constantly asserts; "I'm not lovable or good enough." This tape forces you to be hard on yourself, and keeps you selecting lovers who echo exactly how you really feel about you!

Nothing gives me greater glee, than seeing a client transform. If I could not help bring this about, I'd find a different profession. I'm very selective about who I accept into my practice, for some people actually resist getting well, and my time is too precious a commodity to waste.

You may not be a suitable candidate for this work, and I may not be a solid fit for you, your personality, temperament and goals. We'll try to assess this during our initial contact, for it'll never be my desire nor intention to offer you anything you can't or won't make good use of. Integrated Recovery functions on numerous levels to bring about precisely what its name suggests.

What Integrated Recovery isn't: It is not psychotherapy, which deals only with the mind. Can insight alone, actually help you heal? Would you be in treatment for years or even decades without enjoying tangible change, if it could? This is not to imply that standard therapy has no value. Perhaps you've used it for challenging life events which required guidance to help you reach the other side of, and it was very useful in that regard. A lot of roads lead to Mecca. Arriving there, is about determining which one can best meet your needs, and take you there as quickly and effectively as possible.

Recovery work won't let you retain your comfortable love affair with survival. It doesn't permit you to complain about Your Life month after month (which is incredibly boring) without getting to the core of that issue, and resolving it. It's solution focused, and helps you learn to Thrive--not merely survive.

You might presume that wealth will cure your woes, but it won't. I've worked with multi-millionaires who have never felt safe or secure. They've struggled with loneliness and emptiness just as you have. When you've gotten all the boats, planes and houses you can own, and they don't eradicate that painful vacuum inside you, we have a sort of 'existential crisis' on our hands.

Mid-life concerns pertaining to this issue are developmentally driven. They're about our need to change or amend what we've been doing for decades. As we evolve, we can't keep performing the same tasks year after year, without outgrowing our ability to be stimulated by them! It's like wearing an old suit that's now a couple sizes too small. We've made substantial investments in that wardrobe, but we had different values and priorities in our twenties and thirties that don't fit with the needs of our forties, fifties and sixties. When we aren't responsive to these changes, our passion steadily wanes, and each day requires great effort (or various addictions) to help us maintain a sense of vitality or aliveness.

Our desire for aliveness can have us choosing high-intensity experiences with partners who are personality disordered, as the emotional roller-coaster they put us on triggers anguish and anxiety, which effectively distract us from our very own feelings of dissatisfaction, emptiness or despair that have haunted us since we were small, but that we've harshly judged and tried to avoid through any means possible. Whatever/whoever forces us to feel intense emotions whether they're pleasurable or painful, is enlivening to us~ which could be the reason we've held onto tormenting, toxic relationships.

Misery comes easy. Happiness takes daily, diligent work.

Our lack of love, abundance and prosperity is merely a symptom of far deeper issues. When the foundation from our childhood is rotted and crumbling, none of the structures we build on it can remain intact. The goal of Integrated Recovery is to bring about tangible and permanent foundational restructuring and change.

Change is frightening for most people, because it threatens long-held stagnancy that's often mistaken for "safety." You've landed on this text, because you've bought into some faulty, destructive belief systems during childhood and along your adult path, which have kept you 'enrolled' in self-defeating patterns of behavior. These defective patterns must be eliminated, so you can acquire real happiness, and maintain it.

When you've had to endure crisis and chaos on a regular basis as a kid, you learn to mentally and emotionally prepare for it, which gives you a sense of comfort. You now anticipate disaster and psychically ready yourself for it, so you can feel safer. This practice became habituated during childhood to save you from surprise and shock, and helped you avert feelings of devastation every time the rug got pulled out from under you!

This defense helped you survive as a child, but it works against you as an adult. You're still waiting for the other shoe to drop, and trying to envision the future, to hyper-control it. You're not able to be present, and experience and embrace your emotions, regardless of whether they're painful or pleasurable. This mental fast-forwarding reflex greatly undermines you, but your payoff is Prophesy Fulfillment, which reinforces ancient faulty thinking; "I'm not worthy or deserving of receiving what I want and need."

Escaping psychic/emotional pain as children meant many of us imagined that when we were grown, we would have riches, love, contentment and gleefulness~ but that almost never happens. The letdown and shame we feel when our present reality doesn't match our childhood fantasy keeps us striving for it, but no matter how much we change our outer environment (or body), Happiness remains elusive, because it's literally an 'inside job.'

If you're looking for someone to take your money, and just be your sounding board week to week, you need to look elsewhere. Integrated Recovery is not designed to perform this function for you! IR's central commitment is to help you acquire wellness. To my mind, anything less seems unscrupulous.

What Integrated Recovery is: It's a holistic approach to ending emotional pain, which encompasses your body and spirit and to a very minor extent, your intellect~ because if we're not responsive to all three parts of you, we're neglecting two-thirds of your pie.

This methodology embraces the principle that you're not just a brain attached to a life-support unit. It works to achieve healing on numerous levels, because when one of these facets maintains disharmony, it's not long before your physical body reflects it! Consider the health concerns that stress induces, and you have a concrete example of this phenomenon.

Integrated Recovery is antithetical to psychotherapy. This work requires that you learn how to experience emotions in your body rather than analyzing or overthinking, and attaching meaning or reasons to them in your head. That practice is not allowed here.

You might consider IR work to be like acupuncture, as compared to western medicine. Western medicine treats the symptoms of your disease or discomfort to help you feel better~ whereas Chinese medicine targets the cause of your distress to eradicate it. In a sense, IR's function is to unblock and heal emotional Qi or 'Chi.'

This work goes far beyond mitigating your anguish or dissatisfaction. It's about helping you thrive, rather than just survive or feel "okay" about your life. If there isn't enough 'juice' in your daily existence, you might be sleepwalking, and maybe we should talk. This is likely contributing to addictive/compulsive behaviors and poor relationship choices which have brought you confusion, chaos and pain.

I'm troubled that too many female and male therapists try to feminize men, and neglect to honor/respect the quintessential differences between females and males. They seem to disregard the masculine archetype, while urging men toward greater 'sensitivity.' To my mind, this clinical subjectivity is a dangerous misuse of power by clinicians who fear the primal aspects in men, and it can be castrating. No healthy heterosexual gal wants a passive guy! Male clients are helped to grow from scared little boys into genuinely confident Men here~ not women.

IR encourages emotional dependency, but only in the beginning stages, until you can become fully self-reliant. It's primary aim is to assist you with growing a healthy, emotionally independent, rock-solid sense of Self.

In order for us to accomplish this growth, you'll be given a few 'power-tools' which help you build self-worth, so you can finally climb out of the self-defeating, deeply-dug trenches that are keeping you disabled.

You will be taught how to quit being "hard" on yourself, and deconstruct the negative tape that's been playing 24-7 since early childhood; "I'm not lovable or good enough," for recovery is impossible if you can't or won't accept and integrate this crucial transition into wellness.

You'll learn how to confront anyone at anytime about anything, and acquire verbal tools and communication skills which will give you newfound confidence in social and professional arenas.

You'll be using self-worth building exercises and strategies that help you build a strong/sturdy personal foundation, so that self-sabotaging behaviors and faulty beliefs can be dismantled and eliminated.

IR is a collaborative effort; you can't get there without my help, and I can't assist you, without your strong desire and willingness to utilize the guidance and tools I provide, that bring about full recovery, self-actualization and joy.

I do not heal you. I illuminate your path, give you powerful self-restructuring tools, and teach you how to heal Yourself. This unconventional approach helps you build self-respect, healthy entitlement and genuine self-esteem. Your episodic reliance on 'psychotherapy' should be eliminated through the course of this work, as well.

If you choose not to follow my methods, you'll remain just as you are.

Integrated Recovery is intricate, complex and highly individualized to respond to the unique needs of every client, but the key principles of this method are described below:

Feeling - You'll learn how to quit avoiding or distracting from your emotions and your Self.

Healing work is Feeling work. You are taught how to experience, accept and tolerate difficult emotions without fear of annihilation, repercussions, doubt or self-ridicule. This tool is essential, if you've ever wrestled with addictions.

Given you're here, you've been thinking your way through life, as opposed to feeling your way along. You've suppressed difficult emotions since you were very young. As a result, you don't trust your instincts or intuitions, which are there to serve and protect you! These extra-sensory aspects are your built-in survival guide, but they can't function when other feelings (like depression or anger) have been banished from your personality.

If you can't trust others, you haven't learned to rely on your innate instincts to guide your decisions, and you do not trust yourself. If this isn't fixed, you'll keep shooting in the dark hoping to hit the bull's eye, and second-guessing right choices~ especially when they prompt less than comfortable feelings.

Recovery methods focus solely on what you're feeling, not how you're feeling. This unconventional method helps you connect with aspects of your Self, so you can access life-force within you! It's the most important gain you will ever achieve.

All your feelings are welcome here. You'll never be made 'wrong' for them, and I look forward to when you can express your anger, even at me! You've likely had to censor yourself your entire life--but we pull out all the stops here.

I love working with angry people! Their feelings are closer to the surface, so they tend to progress faster. In essence, you'll get to experience being fully You, without getting punished, guilted or abandoned. (Conceptualize that if you will!)

Reparenting - You'll receive full acceptance, plus guidance and support to help you become the person you've always wanted to be.

Integrated Recovery has to make up for and correct deficits in your childhood, that undermined you in the first place. It is this reparenting process, which helps you acquire healthier, more nourishing/productive ways of relating to and treating yourself. Think of this as a corrective emotional experience, wherein you begin to accept and integrate a brand new template for what a trusted, mentoring relationship is supposed to feel like. This directly influences your friendship or romantic selections, and fortifies all interpersonal dynamics.

The capacity for delayed gratification accompanies adult development. When emotional growth is stunted due to anguish when we're young, instant gratification always reigns and brings you pain, for the 'juvenile' self can't make responsible decisions! It does not consider the ramifications from its choices--it just needs what it wants in the moment, without any thought to potentially harmful repercussions.

Psychotherapists seldom prevent you from making unsound life choices. They may view your setbacks as "grist for the mill," so you'll remain with them longer. This practice does not exist in IR. If you were capable of making healthy decisions, you wouldn't need direction and guidance! This is also where your parents likely failed you, and we're here to correct that.

Reparenting isn't about controlling you. It's about helping you anticipate the consequences of your choices and discerning how these will impact you. It's intended to teach you solid, adult reasoning that guards your well-being.

Healing core trauma (at the root of personality disorders) is not a function of the mind, and no amount of reading or insight can get you there. Recovery is actually a Heart issue~ and together, we are mending long-standing, painful injuries to your sense of Self. Nothing else is this vital or important.

Emotional growth is cumulative, but it's seldom linear.

Integrated Recovery often feels counterintuitive, as this is an innovative, fresh approach that you've never been exposed to before. There's a natural learning curve that comes with trying anything new, so you might backslide a bit, and that's to be expected. You're in this work to learn and grow~ not to perform perfectly (that may have been your childhood drama).

You'll be acquiring healthy limits and boundaries here, because if you already had them, you definitely would not be needing my help. I may seem a bit stern occasionally, but it's solely to halt your self-sabotage, and help you get back on track. My mission is to get you stronger, as swiftly as possible.

Educating - You'll solve the mystery; "who am I--and why am I here now?!"

Integrated Recovery assists you with gaining a solid emotional education, so you can begin to understand your Self, and others. It helps you comprehend why you've acted in the ways you have, and how your romances have mostly floundered and failed. It goes directly to the core of these issues, and helps you dismantle them, once and for all. This is Big Picture intervention and repair, that can literally catalyze cellular change and healing in the body.

Denial has shielded you from uncomfortable truths, and kept you trapped in non-productive patterns of thought and behavior throughout your lifetime. If we don't uncover what's inhibited your growth, you'll remain stuck. IR is kind of like having your kitchen remodeled; it usually seems worse, before it gets better. Remember that old saying, it's always darkest before the dawn? You can either feel a little pain now--or a lot more, the rest of your life.

I'll always explain why I'm working with you as I am, and keep no secrets from you. You'll come to understand yourself as deeply as I do over time, because this work is about helping you become empowered. Keeping you in the dark only serves the Ego who's treating you. It doesn't help You learn to help yourself. (Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.)

Evolving - You will start noticing an absence of pain~ and you'll have to adjust to it. It won't be easy at first, believe it or not.

Every client who is committed to Healing reaches a fork in this road, which feels uncomfortable for a little while. People with core trauma had to adapt to pain from the time they were very small, and anguish became their constant companion. When they stop feeling some level of pain on a daily basis, it's a whole new set of sensations. This is when their pesky urge to self-sabotage is greatest, because it enables them to return to the more familiar/comfortable painful feelings they've known their entire life. This part of recovery is somewhat challenging, because we're navigating terrain that's feeling foreign, and it takes some getting used to. Fear not~ we'll be crossing this bridge together, and I'll be holding your hand to make it feel a bit less scary.

You'll begin feeling a sense of contentment and peace. You've begun talking about your feelings, rather than hyper-analyzing them or acting them out. Being 'alone' doesn't still trigger dread and fear, because your relationship with You is growing more fulfilling, rewarding and nourishing on many levels.

You're no longer on the outside of you, observing yourself. You've begun taking your emotional temperature, instead of everyone else's! Trying to make certain everybody likes you (people pleasing), isn't your #1 priority anymore. A newfound sense of respecting and liking yourself, is.

You won't keep starving and striving for acceptance and approval from others. You'll have gained the desire and capacity to give it to yourself--and you'll own it.

Happiness is incrementally acquired. Much quicker would feel too destabilizing, but 'FREE' is my acronym for what you will be experiencing, along your way to it. You've navigated various crises, but they've predictably had you returning for more psychotherapy. Integrated Recovery eliminates that cycle, because you'll be making concrete, lasting, irrevocable changes to your pre-existing paradigm. This is nothing short of life-altering inner change.

You will evolve into a sentient, self-actualized person, capable of giving and receiving love and abundance. You'll be viewing relationships sort of like the frosting on a well baked cake that's totally scrumptious when eaten alone--but a tad sweeter with some topping.

You won't desperately need to be loved. You'll already know you're lovable, and you will automatically be making healthier, more gratifying friendship and romantic choices, that reflect an unshakable, authentic sense of self-worth~ never self-doubt.

Suffice it to say, this is a process. The principles of Integrated Recovery are simple, but the work is tough--only because it reorganizes/reconfigures what you've always thought was necessary, to save your own life.


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