Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Need to Teach the Teachers

I had the distinct pleasure this afternoon of speaking about LifeRing to a group of interns in San Francisco.  These were all students at different colleges, ranging from trade schools and community colleges to UC Berkeley and even an Ivy League school or two.  Some were undergraduates, some were working on a Psy.D. degree or M.F.T. certificate. They were all interning at New Leaf, the major center for counseling services to the LGBT community in San Francisco and the region, and they were a bright lot; you could feel the electricity from their brains crackling in the air.

Just one problem:  almost none of them had heard of LifeRing before.  You'd think, wouldn't you, that their teachers somewhere along the line would have mentioned to them that there are other approaches to substance abuse besides 12-step, and named some names?

In a recent New Yorker article, the writer tried to find out whether professors of economics in the universities had updated their theories in light of the recent economic crash.  The answer was mostly negative.  Most of them got their minds cast in cement a couple of decades ago.  Could it be that something like that is going on with the professors of addiction studies?

I can think of some honorable exceptions: teachers who regularly send their students to check out support group meetings, including LifeRing.  But clearly, judging by the experience of these interns, we have work to do.  We need to educate some educators.

If you are a student in addiction studies and related fields and you have a teacher who has never heard of LifeRing, please forward their contact information to, and we will undertake to send them some educational materials.  Or, if you prefer, we'll send you the material and you can hand deliver it -- the best way.

And if your class would like to have a live LifeRing lecture, we can probably arrange that, too. Get in touch with the LifeRing Service Center, or 1-800-811-4142.

P.S.  Pietro Carnini, the New Leaf staff counselor who set up the gig, sent a very nice follow-up letter saying:
The interns found your presentation to be very informative, and they were pleased to hear about an alternative self-help program for those struggling with addiction.  Their knowledge regarding this topic has been increased, and I believe that this is a result of your excellent presentation.  I would welcome you to return next year to provide training on this topic.
And thank you, Pietro, for the invitation.  I look forward to doing it again.

No comments: