Author: Ted, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator
Bringing SMART Recovery into state prisons has rewards but also poses bureaucratic challenges. Difficulties in regularly covering a Tuesday afternoon meeting in Massachusetts prompted the recruitment of a third volunteer facilitator. With obstacles, the new volunteer was able to schedule an in-person orientation class that was required but was officially offered at erratic and infrequent intervals. This volunteer traveled many miles to show up for a SMART meeting a week later. He got to the door and was denied admission because he was not yet “in the computer.” (Of course, the delinquent cyber entry happened a few hours later, after the group meeting.)
When the new volunteer was denied entry after his paperwork, classwork, and travel, the three of us looked briefly at each other. All that was said was, “Well, an REBT opportunity.”
With practice, it is often effective to quickly recognize that many potential frustrations are “just REBT opps.”
The phrase said a lot. It seemed to say it all. As SMART facilitators, we had absorbed the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) concepts of Albert Ellis. Faced with an invitation to disturb ourselves, we could have done an ABC exercise. We could have examined the unhelpful Beliefs that were permitting the Activating Event to invite negative Consequences. We could have proceeded to Dispute the Beliefs. We could have done all that, but we did not take the time. Basically, we had done plenty of ABC exercises over the years. We knew that, if we did one more, it would just show that there was no value in getting disturbed about this problem. With practice, it is often effective to quickly recognize that many potential frustrations are “just REBT opps.”
Practice of SMART tools may lead to other shortcuts. For instance, upon substantive recovery from a bad habit, it becomes increasingly hard to list the user benefits in a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). Attempts to propose benefits are automatically thwarted by disputation. Indeed, some REBT practitioners may come to feel that it is no longer worth their time to list any benefits of an addicting problem. After all, the benefits are just going to be effectively disputed.
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