09 August 06

Motivating Shane

To qualify for hepatitis C treatment, Shane has to complete a course developed by the Hazelden Foundation. After his most recent class, I found Shane cursing his Criminal and Addictive Behaviour workbook and the course.

“I don’t need," Shane said, “to be in these stupid support groups and courses! How do I know it’s legit? The book says I sacrificed goals because drugs and crime were more exciting, but that’s not true, because after a while, drugs and crime weren’t exciting.”
“I think it’s true. My ex-wife, Amy, was at the U of A, and she really tried to get me to go there to do a master's degree. And what did I do? I sacrificed a positive goal to run round Phoenix partying and raving and doing drugs, which seemed more exciting. If you’re going to reject the whole course because you disagree with some wording, then you’re not going to benefit from what the course has to offer. People who do drugs do it for excitement – especially in the beginning – and they do sacrifice family, education, and work goals. How can you dispute that?”
“But it’s not because those goals are not exciting.”
“Maybe not, but doing drugs and crime is more exciting. Stop fighting the book. Be open-minded. Focus on helping yourself instead of finding small objections to reject the whole course. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help your mental state. How many disorders are you suffering from right now?”
“Bipolar, antisocial, and borderline personality.”
“Don’t you want to construct a positive mental framework to deal with them?”
“What the hell’s that?”
“Don’t you want to get the most from this course to help you with your mental disorders?”
“Sure. If it’s legit info.”
“There you go, resisting again. You’re familiar with the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, right?” I asked this because Shane does lots of legal work.
“Then stop seeking problems with the letter of the course, and go with the spirit of the course.”
“I see what you’re saying.”
“It’s a cop out to focus on the wording.”
“But why should there be double meanings to things?”
“Your mind is creating double meanings. If you choose to get stuck on objections, you’ll never benefit.”
“Maybe that’s why I am who I am?”
“But don’t you want to change that? Isn’t that what this cognitive class is trying to achieve for you?”
“I need a course that’ll teach me not to resist courses. Of course I’d try and resist that course too.”
We laughed.
“The bottom line is, you’ve got to want to help yourself, it’s got to come from your heart.”
“But it’s a joke how they’re doing courses in here. It’s supposed to be done in a live-in community with in-house counsellors where everybody’s doing the same course.”
“But we’re in prison. I’d like to do yoga on a yoga mat instead of the concrete floor. I wish there was enough space in my cell to be able to rotate into the splits from headstand. Do I quit yoga because of these things? No. I adapt. I make the most of the circumstances. You should try and make the most of the course in spite of the environment.”

Shane returned in the evening, and said, “I stand corrected. I am a word quibbler. It says so in a later chapter of the book. I employed a diversion strategy – a way to divert attention rather than understand.”
“It sounds like you’re doing better.”
“Yeah. I’m gonna give it a try.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood

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