I did one of those stints as a talking head Saturday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” commenting briefly on Charlie Sheen. You can’t say much in 10 seconds, but I like to think I did a good job countering Deni Carise, who called Charlie a textbook case of addict denial “on steroids.”
There is a lot to critique in Charlie’s recent performances, but I don’t find this critical approach, which Ms. Carise seemed to condone, good therapy.
Instead, I spoke of building bridges in creating a therapeutic alliance with someone like Charlie. This involves reflecting off of his comments to show that I am on his side, while shifting his focus to how he might help himself. (This approach is called “motivational interviewing.”)
Here are the things they left out from my interview (which I taped the evening before with Jeremy Hubbard), all based on comments Charlie himself made:
Charlie said he could clean up himself (which Ms. Carise mocked). I would say, “I agree, Charlie. You’re the only one who can do this — I’m here as your consultant and helper to allow you to steer yourself free.”
Charlie expressed his distaste for AA and for those trying to force him to return to 12-step therapy (“AA Nazis,” he called them). I said, “AA isn’t especially effective — even Dr. Drew has admitted this! But then people say, ‘He needs to get with the program.’ In response, I say, ‘Why force someone to undergo a treatment he rejects and has repeatedly failed at? Not everyone responds well to admitting their powerlessness and making amends to God.
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