The Story Behind Motivation for Recovery

Hi, I'm John Sanders and I want to tell you a little more about myself.

For all of my adult life until age 36 I struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. When I finally hit rock-bottom I was malnourished, soul-sick, homeless, and hopeless.

I had tried many short-term solutions such as detoxes and 28-day programs. On completion of these programs I was always told to attend 12-step meetings. Good advice for sure...but it just wasn't enough for me. I was miserable when I was drinking, and I was miserable when I was sober. So I figured, why be sober?

Things changed for me when I entered a long-term therapeutic community for individuals with addiction. I spent 18 months living in this community, working, and staying humble.

Luckily for me, after I graduated the therapeutic community I got a job working in a homeless shelter. There I met the most caring, passionate, dedicated individuals who were engaged in alleviating human suffering and searching for solutions to end homelessness. I became inspired to become a social worker.

Long story short -- I graduated The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master of Social Work degree, and a concentration in addiction studies. I was immediately offered a job as Program Director at the same facility where I was once a client. I had come full circle.

One thing I knew for sure was many of the traditional treatment approaches that I experienced had little to no effect on my recovery or my achievements. There was something missing and I wanted to find it.

About this time I was developing and facilitating a group which I named "Motivation for Recovery." I began to ask every client what their motivation for recovery was. I did this for a year and a half, all the while taking detailed notes and noticing the patterns. I still facilitate this group every week.

It was around this time that I began reading about and researching positive psychology. The more I learned, the more I realized that my client's motivation for recovery and the principles of positive psychology were an amazing match. I knew positive psychology was an evidence-based theory, but I couldn't find much information about it being used with individuals in recovery.

So I began integrating the principles of positive psychology into my Motivation for Recovery groups and had the most personally fulfilling group experiences of my career. My clients were breaking through the shame and defeat of addiction and discussing their hopes, dreams, and goals.

They were talking about hope, optimism, gratitude, positive emotions, engagement, meaning, relationships, and accomplishment. All these topics were their motivation for recovery! These are the things that make life worth living, and my clients deserved to be given a forum to discuss how they wanted to flourish in life and achieve success -- success as defined by them.

At this point I decided to put together a group curriculum that I could share with other clinicians who may be interested in teaching the benefits of positive psychology to their clients.

My goal is to complete the first version of the curriculum by early 2015. It will contain groups, handouts, and individual exercises. The curriculum will outline and guide group discussions regarding how the principles of positive psychology can assist individuals in developing and maintaining long-term recovery.

The curriculum is a tool that clinicians can use to teach, motivate, and inspire their clients! It is meant to be complimentary to other treatment approaches and self-help programs.

One convenient feature of this curriculum is that it will be available in PDF format. This means you can print the handouts and exercises directly from your computer. Your handouts will look fresh, clean, and professional -- every time!

So, if this sounds interesting and you want to learn more, please provide your email address in the sign-up form on this website and I'll keep you updated about the progress of the curriculum -- and about using positive psychology with your clients.

Check out Motivation for Recovery