CNM 053: How Jackie Transformed Her Communication & Became A Recovery Coach – with Jackie Stein

Hello and welcome to Episode 53!

Today we’re wrapping up our mini-series that’s been all about The BALM Philosophy, which stands for “Be A Loving Mirror”. The BALM was designed to help people struggling in relationships with substance abusers (and other difficult people) get their lives back, learn how to communicate effectively, and possibly even be a positive influence for change in another person’s life.

For the last 3 episodes we heard the creator of The BALM, Beverly Buncher, talk all about how she successfully intervened in her husband’s life (not once but twice), and what she teaches other people about how to be their loved one’s best chance at recovery. So if you haven’t heard those episodes, I’d recommend listening to them first. (Episode 50: The Loving Path To Family Recovery, Episode 51: Practical Strategies For Communicating With Difficult PeopleEpisode 52: How To Start Implementing The BALM Philosophy In Your Home)

In today’s episode we’re talking to Jackie Stein who is one of Beverly’s students, and who has also become a recovery coach through Beverly’s coach training.

Jackie is in a long-term romantic relationship with a man who has a substance use disorder, and she’ll be telling us about her experience with that.

Before we start, if you already want to know more about The BALM, just click here to inquire.

Here’s my interview with Jackie Stein…

Interview with Jackie Stein About Learning To Communicate With A Substance User

Brian: Hey Jackie, welcome to the show, it’s so good to have you.

Jacqlyn: I’m delighted to be here, thank you.

Brian: I can’t wait to dig into your personal story. I know you have a lot to bring to the table. You have some really interesting personal experience that I think a lot of listeners can identify with. You’ve done a lot of the hard work that I think a lot of people want and need to do in some cases, so I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.

Question: My first question for you is, could you start by briefly sharing a little bit of a back story of your situation with your loved one, and what life was like before you discovered BALM?

Jacqlyn: Sure. Life was insane before I discovered BALM. My loved one, who is my partner, is suffering from an alcohol use disorder that has been going on and off for many, many years. And being a person who wanted to try to fix him – my life was very insane before I found the BALM – I lived in a constant state of anxiety.

If he was drinking, I was worried about where he was, how much he was drinking, whether he was safe, or whether he was alive. When he wasn’t drinking, I spent all of my time worrying about whether he was going to pick up a drink, where he was, and what he was doing. I was a professional person but my whole life almost 24/7, was focused on what he was or wasn’t doing.

Question: What did that do to you as a person? Did it have any effect on your profession or anything else in life?

Jacqlyn: Yeah, at first it was kind of subtle. I think I wasable to mask it better, but as time went on – I worked in a large financial services company, I had a pretty responsible job – I was constantly worrying about him. If he would call while was in the middle of the conference call, I would put the call on hold to take his call because I was worried about where he was. My mind was constantly pulled in other directions. I had a hard time focusing on what I needed to do for work. I had a hard time focusing on what I needed to do at home that didn’t involve him. My life was absolutely consumed with what he was doing and where he was.

Questions: I’m curious, how did you discover this BALM? Where did this come from? How did you hear about it?

Jacqlyn: That’s a really interesting story. I had decided that I wanted to go back to school. I had decided that working for this financial services company was not really what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I decided to go back to school to study addiction counseling. I think somewhere in the back of my head I thought that if I became an addictions counselor, somehow I could help other people but maybe I could also help him.

During the course of my studies, it occurred to me that there were lots of services available for people that were suffering from substance use disorder, but there weren’t too many opportunities for the families. This is truly a family disease; everyone gets sick. There’s Al-Anon and Nar-Anon but they really didn’t seem to provide enough “oomph” for me so I decided to go in search of something more powerful. As luck would have it, I got on a Facebook page with one of my friends, and saw a response to a question of some sort from Bev who was somebody that I knew from childhood but had lost track of.

We started to talk, and when she told me what she was doing and I told her what I was doing, it was like a new marriage made. She had started this program called BALM which stands for Be A Loving Mirror, and she was telling me how she had decided that there was not enough out there for the families. When I’ve heard that, I just knew that I had found somebody who was trying to pursue the same thing I was trying to pursue, and it occurred to me that maybe I could use the BALM personally as well as professionally.

Brian: For those of you listening, if this is one of the first episodes you’ve ever heard of this show, we are in the middle of a mini-series, a four-part series about this BALM program developed by Beverly Buncher, and that’s who Jackie is referring to here so feel free to check out the episodes around this episode. Make sure you get the whole series here just so you have the full context.

Question: I’m curious, you mentioned Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, what was it about BALM that you felt really was so different that really, really drew you to it that you didn’t see anywhere else?

Jacqlyn: In Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, they talk about three C’s; you didn’t cause your loved one substance use disorder, you can’t cure it, and you can’t change it. I was onboard withall of that, but they also seem to be focusing on walking away. There were a lot of people there that were still married but had basically separated themselves emotionally and spiritually from their loved one and were just sort of hanging in. I thought, “There had to be more to life than just hanging in.”

When I learned about the BALM, the BALM goes further than that. The BALM says, “Yes, you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, you can’t change it, but you can be your loved one’s best chance at recovery. You have a connection with your loved one that is much deeper than their substance use, and that you have a connection to them that you can hold on to. You have to learn a new way to communicate with them, and obviously, you’re always at choice, you always have the right to walk away, but you can learn how to let go without giving in or giving up.” This was just a completely foreign concept to me. I had never heard anyone before talk about trying to make the relationship actually work and not just coexist.

Questions: You mentioned substance use in this particular case. What’s your thought about how this  applies to situations that don’t involve that? Can this work in other situations too?

Jacqlyn: I think The BALM program can work in just about any situation. When I say substance use, most people think of drugs or alcohol but there are process addictions too like food, gambling, and sex but there are also people that suffer from serious mental health issues. I think using the BALM tools can help in relationships where mental illness is an issue as well.

Question: You mentioned discovering that you can be your loved one’s best chance at recovery, did it surprise you to learn that there’s something you can do to be the loved one’s best chance at recovery?

Jacqlyn: Yes, because everything that I was doing was absolutely the wrong thing. This is coming from a person who is personally living a life in recovery. I should have known that trying to cajole, nag, plead, and beg him was not going to be the answer. But that’s exactly what I did. I would cry, yell, throw things, and try to be rational. But when you’re dealing with a person who’s in the throes of a substance use disorder, rational is not necessarily the way to go. They can’t hear a lot of what you’re saying. As soon as you start to yell, nag, or plead, they basically just turn off the sound and they just watch your mouth moving.

I didn’t understand any of that, and through the BALM I learned how to have a loving and non-judgmental conversation with my partner where he may not want to do what I would like him to do but he can hear what I’m saying. He can tell that I’m seeing things in him and he’s willing to hear what I have to say as opposed to turning off the sound.

Brian: I’m curious to understand more about how you’ve done that.

Question: We have talked to Bev a bit about some of the strategies here, but what strategies have helped you specifically in your situation most with your relationship?

Jacqlyn: A couple of things, first is there’s a whole process for learning how to create what we call a BALM conversation which is sort of like a little mini intervention. Part of what we learn is how to be observant of what we see going on, how to document what we see going on, and then how to approach our loved one with what we see, not necessarily coming to a conclusion of, ‘As a result of all of this, you need to go to rehab,’ we don’t go there. We just say, ‘We love you, and this is what we’ve seen.’

We try to make it clear to them that we see behavior that is not healthy. We don’t necessarily make that kind of a judgment, ‘I see you doing things that are unhealthy, I just see you doing things that I’d like you to be aware of,’ and we keep judgment out of the conversation so that they don’t feel defensive by our conversation.

Overtime, what I personally have found and what I have seen with other families is that they start to hear you. It’s funny because one of the other things that we do is we learn how to take better care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We learn how to avoid the manipulation that is often paired with communication with someone that’s suffering from a substance use disorder. I know that it’s working for me and I know that it’s worked for me in the past because my loved one has on occasion, when he is not in the throes of his substance use will say to me, “I can’t manipulate you anymore.” That was the most powerful thing he could have ever said.

Brian: You knew you were making progress.

Jacqlyn: I knew that I was making progress. I knew that I was no longer acting codependently and I knew that he was hearing me. Those were the two things I needed to do in order to be able to reach out to him.

Question: As you’re talking about this, I can’t help but think folks listening are probably wondering, ‘Geez, how did you have this conversation, this mini intervention? What does this look like?’ Can you tell us how do you design and have a BALM conversation?

Jacqlyn: Yeah, there’s a whole process in the educational and transformational program of BALM that teaches you the principles of how to do this and the steps to creating this conversation. I think that the things that you have to do are to be peaceful yourself, to be calm, and to be observant. Notice the behaviors that your loved one is involved with that are causing you to be concerned. Document them and prepare a conversation.

As I said, it’s like a little mini intervention. You don’t have to get like twelve people in a room with an interventionist, but you can just sit down with your loved one in a very calm, judgment-free zone so that they’re not defensive. Just make sure they know that you love them and that you’ve just observed behaviors that you want to share with them. You’ll know when they’re ready, they’ll say something like, ‘What can I do?’or ‘What can we do? I don’t want to do this anymore.’

When they’re ready, you have to be prepared to go to the next stage. We always tell people, “As you’re in the process of trying to do this, you should be working with a coach or have a treatment center lined up so that you have a place where you can take them when they’re ready because if you wait, that moment may pass.”

Question: Is this a conversation that you script out before you have it?

Jacqlyn: I used to. I don’t have to script it out as much anymore. I still have these conversations. My loved one is still in and out of recovery. I still have these conversations periodically. I still have these conversations even when he’s in recovery because I had found it’s a very healthy way to communicate about behaviors I see.

Sometimes, our loved ones relapse emotionally or mentally before they relapse physically. If I can be aware of behaviors that he’s engaged in that lead to picking up that substance again or engaging in the unhealthy behavior again, I can craft that conversation and talk to him about the behaviors that I’m seeing.

I still think it’s really important for me to document because what happens is you’ll be having a conversation with your loved one and they’ll try to say, ‘I never did that. You’re crazy. You must be imagining things. I never said that. I never did that.’ You start to think that maybe you are crazy and that maybe you are making this up in your head. But if you have documented it in real-time and you’ve written down for yourself that on such and such date, at such and such time, he or she said or did this, then you know that you’re not crazy and it’s the person who’s suffering that is trying to manipulate you.

Questions: You mentioned early on in the conversation something I want to bring back again because you mentioned it a few minutes too. You said, before you have these kinds of conversations, you need to be calm yourself. At the early part of the conversation you mentioned that your mind was going every which way thinking about him. How do you reign in these kind of racing compulsive thoughts that you have and just calm yourself down? Is there some strategy to do that too?

Jacqlyn: There are lots of tools that we learn in The BALM program. First of all, yes, ‘calm’ would not have been a word that I would have used to describe my relationship with my partner before I found the BALM; it would have been anything other than calm. But what I learned was that if I didn’t stay calm and avoid emotional escalation, I would immediately start to sound judgmental. My voice would take on a judgmental tone. My word choices would go. If I got emotional, my whole script would go out the window. So I had to learn that the most important part of that conversation was to remain calm.

There are lots of ways to learn to be calm. Some people actually learn to become calm through meditation, through breathing techniques when your emotions start to flood, through flexing, and releasing muscles. There are all sorts of tools that we can use.

Different people use different things. Some people find meditation very difficult to do, some people fall into it and literally have trouble getting back out of it. I like to use breathing techniques because I find if I can calm my breathing, the rest of my body will get calm. I’ve used that with friends, family members, or clients who are hyper ventilating for some reason. I find if I can use breathing techniques, their whole body will calm and they’ll relax. You have to be in that state of calm to really be able to have a useful conversation with a substance user or loved one.

Brian: Excellent, thank you for that.

Question: While we’re on the subject of strategies, is there anything else you want to mention about strategies, or do you feel like you’ve covered that sufficiently?

Jacqlyn: There are lots of different strategies. I would imagine Bev has covered some of them as well and some of them are just part of what you learn in the BALM. The key thing that I would indicate is one of the special things that is part of the BALM program is being able to practice doing these conversations with a buddy.

There’s a part of The BALM program called The Seven Steps of BALM. It’s an eight-week course in the middle of the BALM program. You work with a buddy and you learn all the issues about learning how to be calm, how to document what you see, crafting the conversation, and setting boundaries; all sorts of tools. But as the weeks go on between classes, you’re actually are paired with a buddy where you can practice with one another. You have somebody that can be objective and can listen to what you’re saying and can say, ‘You know what? That sounded a little judgmental, you may want to try to find a different word.’ It was so very useful to have that partner to work with in that program.

Brian: I could see why that would be helpful.

Questions: I’m curious, what kind of resistance did you come up against while you were working the program and as you continue to work it? How do you deal with the resistance?

Jacqlyn: Resistance wasn’t so much to the program, the resistance was just generally resistance to recovery. One of the first things we learn is of course that there are no guarantees. Just because we learn how to have this kind of a conversation, how to love our loved one who’s suffering, and take care of ourselves, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to find recovery. If we could do that, we could make bazillion dollars.

But the idea is that we can be our loved one’s best chance and so we have to be prepared for the fact that they’re not always going to want to hear us. But no matter where they are or what they’re doing, we have to stay the course, we remain calm, we remain loving, and we learn how to take care of ourselves so that we don’t wear ourselves out with worry. As I said early in the conversation, I was a mess. There was no way I could help him because I wasn’t taking care of me.

If I don’t take care of myself on all levels, as I said, physically, making sure that I’m healthy, eating right, sleeping right, getting to doctors; if I’m not taking care of myself emotionally, if I need a therapist, get a therapist, if I’m working with a coach, work with my coach. Spiritually, regardless of what your spiritual path is, connecting with it, feeling like you’re not in this alone. If you do those things, you can be in a better place to help your loved one. That’s what contributing to their recovery is all about; taking care of yourself.

Question: How about resistance from your loved one from what you were trying to do while you communicated with them? Did you get push back?

Jacqlyn: Oh, yeah. Sometimes I didn’t pushed back, sometimes I just got silence. Sometimes I got him walking out of the room. Sometimes I got yelling. Sometimes I got this whole thing I was telling you about where he tried to make me feel like I was crazy. But having been through this program, having talked to lots of people, heard other family members talking, been through this with a buddy, I was pretty much prepared for all of those things. I don’t let those things get me down or get in the way. I just keep moving forward with my program knowing that I will do the best I can. And if and when he’s ready, I will be there and at the same time, I’m going to take care of ‘me’ so that I can be a healthy partner for him.

Brian: Just to dig in a little bit more on that, I assume that when you do come against this resistance – the yelling, the walking out of the room, the silence – that could be difficult. You never know what you’re going to get.

Questions: You mentioned that you continue to work your program no matter what, but what about in those moments when he yells back or when he walks out of the room? Is it difficult for you to stay calm? How do you deal in that specific moment, if you can tell us about that?

Jacqlyn: That’s a really good question. At the beginning I was not good with that. He would walk out of the room and I would follow him. I would keep talking and as I kept talking, my calm would start to disappear and I would start to do all of the behaviors that I knew were not healthy. I would sit there and after we were done, I would say to myself, “That certainly wasn’t a good example of BALMing, was it?” You can’t always be perfect at this. But at times where he would yell, I would just have to force myself to remain calm.

One of the things I was taught was you don’t have to attend every argument to which you’ve been invited. So if he chooses to argue, I can sit down, smile, and continue to love the person that I know is inside there even though I’m not enraptured with the person that’s yelling at me right now. I can just listen to what he’s saying and make sure that you say, ‘I hear you, I hear you,’ so that he knows that he’s being heard and continue to do it in a loving way. Do not fight back, do not argue, that will not get me anywhere.

But like I said, overtime, when they start to realize that you’re not going to yell at them, plead with them, try to force them to do something that they don’t want to do, and all you’re going to do is love them and just let them know what you see, somehow along the line they just start to hear you. They don’t necessarily want to be on the same page as you, but at some point, they will start to hear you and recognize that there may be something to what you’re saying.

But again that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be ready to go into treatment at that moment or ever for that matter, but they will start to hear you and then they will stop yelling or walking away quite so much. But it is a process. It does take time and you just have to stay the course. You have to stay calm and work on your program. Breathe when they get crazy. Breathe, just keep yourself calm. Whatever your tool is that you use – meditation, clenching and releasing fist or shoulders – whatever it is you use to keep calm, just keep using it in that moment.

Question: You also mentioned a little while ago the concept of letting go without giving up or giving in. How do you let go without giving up or giving in?

Jacqlyn: That’s a hard one. Letting go of expectations, letting go of results, you don’t give up on them, you continue to try to help them in the best way you can. You don’t give in to them by enabling their bad behavior. I’ve heard in some programs like in Al-Anon, they say detach with love. I used to sit there and say, “I don’t understand what does detach with love mean. How can you detach and still be loving?” But the bottom line is you can let go of their behavior. Let go of what they’re doing, stay in your healthy behavior, let go of their insanity, but don’t to give up on them. Continue to work with them and not enable.

One of the important things that I had to learn was the difference between helping or advocating for them vs. enabling them. I had a situation where I was afraid my loved one was going to become very ill from not drinking because he just abruptly quit and I couldn’t get him to go to the hospital. My first thought was, “Well, I have to go out and buy him some booze because if I don’t, he’s going to be really sick.” I think I did that on a couple of occasions. Eventually, I had to let him get a little bit sick so that he was willing to go to the hospital to get the treatment that he needed. So that was being there for him but not giving in to his insanity and his poor behavior choices. Did that answer your question?

Brian: Yeah, that’s helpful. I agree, it seems like there’s this notion that, ‘I need to detach. I’m told to detach with love… (so to speak) but if I detach, then how can I love at the same time?’

Question: I think you were addressing that, but how do you maintain connection in their life, care, and love while being detached and not letting the waves toss you around like a sail boat in the wind emotionally, so to speak? How do you remain calm emotionally while being detached at the same time?

Jacqlyn: Yeah, it’s so hard. I have to remember that my loved one is making choices and I may disagree with the choices that they’re making. I don’t have to be wrapped up in the choices. If my loved one chooses to go out and drink or use drugs, I no longer have to sit at home and worry about where he is, what’s going on, what he’s doing, what I’m going to do; that’s where I have to let go. I have to know that in my world (I talk about my higher power), that he has his own higher power and I can’t control him. I can’t stop him from doing whatever he’s going to do and so I have to let go of that day-to-day control.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love him and want to help him. I do. But I can’t control his movements or his everyday activities. Once I was willing to acknowledge that I couldn’t control that, it made remaining calm so much easier.

I can remember somebody once telling me, “Jackie, you’re not the general manager of the universe. There’s somebody that already has that job.” That was very helpful for me too because I kept thinking that if I could just control his behavior, I could fix him, and you can’t. You can’t fix him and you can’t control his behavior. All you can do is be there when he’s ready.

Question: You said, “Once I was able to do that, it got better in some ways.” Did something happen for you to do that? Was it just like realizing that you can’t control it?

Because, I think there’s a lot of people out there who say, ‘Intellectually, I understand this and that,’ but deep down emotionally and on the inside, ‘I just can’t change even though I know what I’m supposed to do. How do I actually follow through?’ Do you understand what I mean, and was that a problem for you too?

Jacqlyn: It was, and I’m not exactly sure how to tell somebody how to get there. I think it took a lot of practice. It took working with my coach to teach me tools of how to remain calm. And again, in my situation, I had to be willing to set boundaries and follow through with them.

Two things that I learned that are very important – you don’t set a boundary to punish your loved one, you set a boundary to protect yourself. The other thing that I learned about boundaries is don’t set them if you’re not willing to stick to them. There’s nothing bad in you if you can’t set a boundary right now because you’re not willing to follow through with it. But at the time that I finally said, “I need to set this boundary to protect myself,” I was able to do it. That allowed me the breathing space that I needed to not feel like I had to control everything.

It’s scary. I will tell you, in the situation that I was in, I insisted that my loved one leave our home because I didn’t want any alcohol in our home. I said, “If you bring it in, you have to leave.” I told him he had to leave, and he did. I had no idea where he was or where he was going, but I had to let go of that and know that I would hear from him when the time is right. I just had to believe that.

I had to work with other people like my coach and other family members, to surround myself with positive people to stay calm and continue to work my program so that when he did come back and said, ‘I’m ready,’ I was able to be helpful and not just a ball of nervous energy.

Brian: Yeah, we could probably talk about boundaries all day long. That’s such a great topic. I’m going to pivot back over to the program here that you’ve mentioned.

Question: You’ve mentioned the BALM program and there’s a coaching element, an eight-week instruction element, and other things you’ve mentioned. What’s a BALM program all about and what’s the best part of the BALM, in your opinion?

Jacqlyn: The BALM Comprehensive Program is a twelve-month program. During that time, you’re exposed to an informational component, a transformation component, and a support component. The informational component is that there are twelve principles that make up the BALM program. During the course of that year, you have the ability to attend live sessions online about the different principles, and you also have the ability to go into the recorded archive because all of the presentations are recorded into the archive so you can listen to previously recorded sessions on any particular principle.

For instance, there’s a principle that talks about the stages of change in your loved one and in yourself, and there are maybe ten or fifteen already recorded sessions about that particular topic. You can go in and listen to those over and over again. You can also listen multiple times during the course of the year because the principles will be offered as lessons in twelve weeks, and then the following twelve week periods will be recorded.

Experts in the field, family members, some of the substance users themselves, coaches, and different folks who can relate to a particular principle will be interviewed on that principle. You have access to all of those as recordings in the archive. There are probably close to four hundred of them at this point.

Then in the transformational part I’ve spoken about before is this eight-week course called The Seven Steps to BALM. After you’ve been in the principles for a little while and have started to build your foundation in the principles, you’re encouraged to go to The Seven Steps to BALM program where you learn the tools for creating the BALM conversation, and for the follow up (setting boundaries, and things of that nature). You’re paired with a buddy so that you can practice all of the lessons that you’re learning over the course of that eight weeks. You can take that multiple times during the course of that year as well.

For the support feature – I highly recommend that somebody get a coach when they’re working with the BALM comprehensive program because it’s so useful to have someone that can help you to dig deeper into the issues that are bubbling up in you. But even if someone either can’t afford a coach or isn’t ready to make a commitment to a multiple session coaching environment, there are live coaching sessions as part of the BALM where families can come on to the session and one of the family members that comes on will volunteer to be coached.

There will be coaches and coach trainees who are in the program, and they will all volunteer to do coaching sessions online which the families can listen to. Sometimes, you might hear someone being coached on an issue that’s exactly what you needed to hear, and you’ll be able to see how they walk through the steps with the coach online.

There’s also a journaling class every once a week where you can learn how to journal your feelings on various topics. It’s so helpful to be able to take what you are going through and put it down on paper so that you can come back and look at it later.

Some of the families have started to become a community. They start to hear each other on the weekly calls for the twelve principles. They start to meet each other in the seven steps classes. They start to hear each other on the live coaching sessions and be able to reach out to one another for support. It’s an awesome program.

It’s available for a year and for up to five family members to participate in that year. If it’s your partner, you can include their parents, your parents, or your children. I don’t think it’s probably a good idea for small children but certainly for teenagers. If it’s your child that is the issue, your spouse, the child’s grandparents, even friends, can be part of the five people that are involved with the BALM.

Question: What’s been the impact on your life as a result of discovering that you can do something to be your loved one’s best chance at recovery?

Jacqlyn: It’s been transformational for me because I’m no longer that person sobbing, screaming, yelling, crying, and cajoling. When I was that person, I was not good for my loved one and I wasn’t any good for me either. The BALM program has taught me a lot about myself and about how to better communicate with my loved one. That’s why when you would ask me what’s the most important part of this whole program to me, I think the thing that made the most impact was The Seven Steps to BALM which I did several times with different partners.

Having a partner to practice with and learning how to make these conversations, writing them out ahead of time, practicing them on somebody is important so that when you go to do them, they flow, and they’re calm. That was the most valuable thing for me.

I know now that when I have a conversation with my loved one that he hears me. Like I said he may not always agree with what I have to say but he hears me and he knows that what I’m saying is coming from a place of love and that I’m trying not to be judgmental with him so he’s very much more receptive to what I have to say because he knows it’s coming from a place of love.

Brian: It almost sounds to me like The Seven Steps to BALM you’ve mentioned, it really feels like the core of the “how to”, the “what to do,” and the rest – the comprehensive, the recordings, the coaching – is really a great support mechanism to help you implement the seven steps of BALM.

Jacqlyn: I think that’s probably accurate. What I say is you need to go through the first I’d say at least four or maybe five principles to have those lessons as a foundation before you start the seven steps program. If you just come into the seven steps program, you won’t have learned a lot about the stages of change or about the whole idea of how you can become calm. All of those kinds of things are  important foundations before you start the hard work of figuring how you’re going to have that conversation with your loved one. They tie together. We call The Seven Steps to BALM’ the transformational piece of the program because that’s where the nitty-gritty is. That’s where you learn how to speak in a loving, non-judgmental way, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Question: Who would you recommend BALM to and what would you say to them from your own experience as to why they should get involved in BALM?

Jacqlyn: I would tell anyone who has a loved one that is having any kind of a substance or process use disorder, or is having any kind of a mental health issue that is making it difficult for them to think clearly for themselves should consider the BALM. I know that it was helpful, like I said, for communication with my loved one but it also gave me such an increased sense of self and so much more confidence in how I move forward myself. I think it has really changed me perhaps even more than it has changed my loved one. I can’t recommend it enough.

The other thing that I would say is that (I don’t know if it started yet, but) they’re in the process of creating a twelve-principles program for the loved ones so that they can learn how to use these principles in their own recovery which is just amazing. They can learn how to implement all of the principles that we learn in taking care of ourselves into their own self-care once they’ve come to a place of recovery. It’s really a wonderful program. If it hasn’t been inaugurated yet, it will be shortly, so I’m looking forward to its maiden voyage.

Question: Is there anything else that you would like to add to this conversation about your personal experience, the BALM program, or anything else that you can think of that you want to say?

Jacqlyn: The only other thing that I would say is that I have found personally that going through the BALM made me want to be able to do this with others. I did in fact go through the coaching program after I finished being a family member and I would say that most of the coaches that I have met – in the coaching program with me or in cohorts that came after me – almost everyone is a family member who has used the BALM and said, “Oh, my God, this changed my life. I need to help other people change their lives.” So I would say that not only having come through the BALM myself personally but now being a certified BALM coach and being able to help other families has been one of the best gifts this program has given me.

Brian: Awesome. Thank you so much, Jackie. This conversation is gold. It’s worth gold to lots of people so thank you for sharing this personal experience and talking about the program. It was really nice to have you.

Jacqlyn: I was honored to be here, thank you.

Brian: Absolutely.

Items Mentioned In This Episode

  • (Here, you can inquire about all The BALM programs, coaching for families, and coach training. This is an affiliate link. Please know that I believe strongly in The BALM philosophy, and therefore I promote Family Recovery Resources programs as an affiliate. This means I receive a small commission for any purchases made through this affiliate link 🙂)
  • BALM: The Loving Path To Family Recovery (Beverly’s Book)
  • (Jackie’s coaching website)
  • – our show sponsor (affordable licensed professional counseling services via chat, phone, and video conference)

We Want To Hear From YOU!

What did you think of this episode? Did you learn anything new that you’d like to implement in your relationship(s)? What else would you like to add to the conversation? Comment below!