In the basement of Centerstone’s Addiction Recovery Center (ARC), behind a door with a plaque that says, “Electrical Panel,” is the office of Master Therapist, William Doyle. Since January, Doyle, who has been practicing for 45 years, has started building the Family Therapy Department there with his client-centered, trauma-informed approach. Started in January, the program is part of an ongoing update to what was formerly Seven Counties.

Most Louisvillians probably know the building as JADAC, a place that serves people coming from court with a mandated treatment model. Centerstone’s ARC is building on that structure, but making assessments and offering treatment through self-referrals as well. The goal is to make client-centered addiction treatment available to anyone in the metro area that needs it.

Simply working the 12 steps, recent studies have shown, doesn’t treat the family dynamics around people with addiction. “For years, it was the most successful way to treat people with alcohol and drug addiction,” said Doyle. “But we know now that it tops out at 20, 25%.”

Addiction is complex

By looking at addiction as one aspect of a complex life, and encouraging clients to work on their closest relationships with family therapy, rates of recovery nearly double. Acknowledging that there are many out there who can’t yet be reached, Doyle said, “I’d rather reach 40% than 22.”

Doyle takes a spiritual approach. Many who have been through court, and assigned to treatment find the 12 steps abstract or inaccessible. Some are unable to stop using without help first. The new Family Therapy Department is grounded in an understanding that substance abuse masks deeper hurts that come bubbling to the surface once they can no longer be buried with drugs or alcohol. He meets people with care where they are, acknowledging that sometimes therapy comes before abstinence and sobriety.

Therapists Spring Ashton and William Doyle

Clients are a central part of building the new department. In the first week of January, the unit saw four patients. February’s final week nearly tripled that number. Each client gets an assessment form to start and end each session. First they report what they feel they need to work on. After the session, they are asked whether they feel heard and understood by the therapist, and if the therapist’s current approach is working for them. So far, satisfaction has been in the 90th percentile. Any result falling short of the current, high average is discussed with the patient to improve performance.

ARC’s vision

Robert Daniels, Director of Clinical Operations at ARC, says when it came to incorporating family therapy, Doyle was the man for the job. “We really value his experience with Carl Whitaker, the father of modern family theory.” Doyle was part of a peer group for therapists led by Dr. Whitaker for five years. They focused on the clinicians’ authentic use of self in therapy, an irreplaceable experience that helped the therapists build honesty, authenticity, and integrity into their processes.

The vision for ARC, Daniels said, is for the more modern approach to be “woven into other services.” Asked about the ethos at the center of Centerstone’s ongoing modernization, Daniels said, “I think it’s simple: remembering that the client is first, being more person-centered. I think it’s important to remember our roots and that we’re here to serve.”

“And for me, that means building on the person’s strengths, not accentuating their weaknesses,” said Doyle.

Many with addictions have broken family ties and the 12-step structure offers support and fellowship that can fill a vacuum left by fed-up family members, but even those with estranged families can use the family model. “All anyone needs to begin is an openness to the process. It starts with questions. I ask, ‘How can you be a better son? How can you be a better father?’” said Doyle.

Spring Ashton, the first therapist selected by Doyle to help build the program, is excited to be part of its development and especially to be able to work with families in a chemical dependency setting. “Communication can get a little messed up, so they have to learn how to reconnect with their families.”

Centerstone’s ARC is expanding on the model that has existed in the same location since 1975 and served nearly 250,000 people with addiction. The facility has 80 beds for inpatient treatment, and maintains intensive outpatient programs designed for working people. They offer specialized treatment programs for men and women, as well as COR-12 opiate addiction treatment augmented with medicinal therapies.

By the end of the year, Robert Daniels expects they will be serving 35 individuals a week, along with their families. While the family therapy component of Centerstone’s ARC is just getting off the ground, its vision and methodologies are ensuring patients have a say in how they approach treatment.

For more information about ARC and Centerstone, click here.

Centerstone a mental health organization that boasts being one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of community-based mental health care, offering a full range of mental health services, substance abuse treatment and intellectual and developmental disabilities services here in Louisville KY, as well as in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee. In 2015, we served over 100,000 individuals and families. Centerstone is delivering care that changes people’s lives.