About Integral Recovery

Integral Recovery was born out of my years of struggle as a health care treatment provider working with alcoholics, addicts, and their families. I spent most of these years in the therapeutic wilderness industry, leading adults and adolescents on extended wilderness journeys for emotional healing and renewal. I've also worked as a counselor and therapist in residential treatment, and served in law-enforcement as a Military Police Investigator in Germany.

Over the years, I've also helped design and start a couple of recovery programs (Passages to Recovery and Open Sky Wilderness), always with the intention of doing a better job with drug and alcohol treatment. I made myself into an addiction "expert," as it was abundantly clear that graduate and medical schools were not preparing therapists and doctors to deal with our Number One Health Care Problem: alcoholism, addiction, and drug abuse!

I listened to thousands of stories from addicts and their families, both in the wilderness and in conventional settings, and became intimate with the philosophy and practice of Alcoholics Anonymous (which I consider the first word in modern addiction treatment, but certainly not the last).

I studied neurobiology, nutrition, exercise, spirituality, and meditation. I was never satisfied. The success rates for both AA and traditional treatment were tragically low, and to tell the truth I was beginning to take the whole thing personally. I was sick and tired of seeing lives destroyed and families crushed. We were getting our collective butts kicked. I felt overwhelmed, depressed, and not a little angry.

Enter the AQAL Map

right-click to download full-size chart - courtesy of formlessmountain.comSomewhere in early 2005, I came across IntegralNaked.org, which focuses on the work of Ken Wilber, the founder of Integral Institute. Ken is a brilliant philosopher, the likes of which our human family has seldom, if ever before, produced. I had read some of Ken’s work in graduate school, but lost touch over the years. On the site, I discovered a forty-page PDF file named, "Introduction to Integral Theory and Practice: IOS Basic and the AQAL Map," which blew my mind and put it back together again at a whole new level. AQAL (pronounced ah-qwal) is a "theory of everything" that includes how our mind, body, culture, and society fit together at multiple levels of complexity and awareness. I immediately saw how the AQAL Map brought together all the diverse pieces that I had been struggling with to find a better way of treating addiction. It was truly a “Eureka, I’ve found it!” moment. The basic overview of how Integral Recovery would work was immediately apparent.

My first thought was, “I must find the people who are already working on this Integral Recovery thing.” I spent a couple of months getting deeper into Ken’s work and trying to find the Integral Recovery people. Little by little it began to dawn on me that there weren’t any others—that I was probably it, for the moment. This was a sobering realization, and I began to study harder and apply myself with true intensity and focus. I had a strong inner conviction that what I was learning would be important down the road.

Since AQAL is not just a cognitive tool but a very practical guide for self-transformation, I threw myself into a daily Integral Life Practice (ILP) as delineated by Ken and the folks at Integral Institute. ILP is a whole-being transformational practice designed to magnify health, vitality, and higher awareness in body, mind, soul, and emotions. I had worked out for years and led a rather robust life as a wilderness guide; I had also practiced meditation over the years. But nothing prepared me for the changes a dedicated ILP would produce in me.

Supercharged Meditation

BrainwavesAbout six months into this journey of transformation I began using brain entrainment technology as a powerful aid to my meditation practice. Brainwave entrainment harmonizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and produces progressively deeper states of relaxation, clarity, and awareness. This served as a catalyst for my ongoing transformational process, and I have experienced extraordinary results in my own life and with my clients.

I believe that Integral Theory is on the cutting edge of a whole new level of emergent human consciousness, and I believe that Integral Recovery will be riding that wave into the field of alcohol and drug treatment. I invite you to read the papers and information contained here, and see if you don’t agree. If you do agree, join with us in this pioneering effort and approach to saving lives, families, and generations of young people to come. And perhaps we can administer a little butt kicking of our own. Look out addiction, we’re going Integral.