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When Do the Good Times Start?

When Do the Good Times Start?

Robert J.Ackerman PhD
Change, therapy, treatment, counseling, recovery, inpatient, outpatient, group therapy, meditation, self-actualization, meetings, neuroscience, mindfulness, and my favorite, a personal growth experience; when do the good times start? Many people work so hard at all of these that they forget why they are doing them. I think they are obsessed with the process and not the outcomes. The driving motivation seems to be perfectionism—that is, a belief that if you just perfect the process of change then all will be well. I often ask an audience “Is anyone a recovering perfectionist?” Usually a few hands go up and I then ask, “Are you doing it better than everyone else?”


It reminds me when I ask someone, “How are you doing?” and the reply is “I go to meetings.” 


“Yes, I know, but how are you doing?” 
“Well, I go to a lot of meetings.” 
“Again, how are you doing?” 
“You think I should go to more meetings?” 
“Well, I know what you are doing with your time, but I still don’t know how you are doing!”


Regardless of your goals in counseling, one of the outcomes should be to enjoy your life. 


Let’s not make this complicated. The goals of a recovering person should include learning how to make decisions and choices, behaving in new ways socially, establishing positive relationships, following a treatment plan, and, dare I say it, self-actualizing. All of this work leads to change and should prepare you to enjoy your new life. Recovery should lead to more than just change. Happiness and joy are not required, but they sure are optional. It is not recovery per se that allows people to change, but rather the spirit of recovery. Keeping the spirit alive is what makes change and recovery worth all the effort. Enjoying yourself along the way is actually a good indicator that your change, growth, and recovery are on their way.


I hope that you enjoy this special issue of Counselor about women. The feature articles are authored by women who have made great contributions to helping women overcome and recover from issues ranging from addiction to process addictions to behavioral disorders. Additionally, don’t miss the interview with Stephanie Covington by William White. Dr. Covington has been one of the true leaders in the field and her work has helped thousands of women.


On a personal note, this is my last “Letter from the Editor.” After two years I am stepping down as the editor of Counselor. I have enjoyed being editor and I want to thank all the staff at Health Communications for their great work. I especially want to thank Leah Honarbakhsh for her counsel and great editorial assistance. I am pleased to announce, however, that I will not be totally leaving Counselor. I am assuming the role as chair of the new Advisory Board for the magazine. What am I going to do with the rest of my time? Well, I will continue with speaking engagements and writing books, and oh yes, I’ll work on enjoying myself. 


Thank all of you for a great two years.
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Formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. Dr. Ackerman is a co-founder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and the Chair, Advisory Board of COUNSELOR: The Magazine for Addiction Professionals. He has published numerous articles and research findings and is best known for writing the first book in the United States on children of alcoholics. Twelve books later, many television appearances, and countless speaking engagements, he has become internationally known for his work with families and children of all ages. His books have been translated into thirteen languages.

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