Interview with psychologist Dr. Cullen Hardy
Dr. Cullen Hardy obtained his Doctor of Psychology degree in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) in 2015 from Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire. Dr. Hardy trained in community mental health centers throughout New England where he worked with clients suffering from a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, eating disorders, self-harm, and vocational issues. Cullen also works with couples to help them improve their intimacy and relationship. We have conducted an interview with him.
How does using an integrated approach while incorporating Cognitive Behavioral methods and a narrative perspective empower your clients?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is what many people think of as “traditional therapy.” Without going into a long explanation about what CBT is and how it works, the basic (very basic) premise is that if one changes patterns of thinking or behavior then this can affect the way someone feels. Put another way, if you change maladaptive thinking then this may lead to changes in the way you behave and feel. Feeling depressed? Restructuring those negative thought patterns can lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms. Recent research has shown that CBT is becoming less effective and I’ve never been one to like being “boxed in” so I am always researching and searching for other, effective therapeutic methods. Narrative therapy is a great addition to standard CBT because there is an empowering aspect that brings the client into the therapeutic process. I’ve heard from so many patients who said their therapist seemed to be following a guideline and the patient never felt a part of the therapy. This was disturbing because the patient is the focus…why not bring them in?! Allowing the patients to become an integral “player” in therapy boosts therapeutic efficacy and increases the chance for long-term, sustainable change.
What are your beliefs in leading a fulfilling life?
I think it starts with inner peace and serenity. Some call it happiness…contentment…stability…whatever you want to call it the theory is the same and I think if you are at peace with yourself you can tackle anything and accomplish all of your goals to live the life you want to live. So many times I’ve encountered people in my personal and professional life who are just miserable and all their emotional energy is directed outward, instead of inward. As cliché as it sounds, if you take care of yourself first, you can pretty much take care of everything else…and you’ll ENJOY doing it. Granted there are always exceptions if you think about severe mental illness but for the purpose of this discussion I’m talking about general psychiatric diagnoses. It’s hard to be effective and efficient with whatever you are trying to do if you are a wreck inside. I love my job because patients let me in and allow me to journey with them on their road to inner peace. I never take that lightly as it takes great courage to come in and talk to a complete stranger about your innermost insecurities and difficulties.
Which fields in research do you write about for your books?
I like to write about subjects that interest me and subjects that I feel would be beneficial for others to read. Most of us have many interests so I find it fun to explore mine and put them out there. My main focus has been Psychology, investing and business but I’d like to explore other areas as well. I’m still young (relatively), so I’m sure I’ll expand my range at some point.
What are your expertise and specialization?
Thankfully, my education and training has equipped me to handle just about any mental illness from anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD and marital problems all the way up to dissociative identity disorder (commonly referred to multiple personality disorder), schizophrenia, psychosis and beyond. Being exposed to such a wide range of diagnoses allowed me to have the experience and confidence to treat whatever may walk through my door. My training also taught me to have confidence in what I DON’T know so if I’m ever uncomfortable treating someone because I don’t feel I’d be effective I have no problem referring to someone better equipped to treat them. I think many Psychologists feel they HAVE to treat everything and that’s just not the case. There’s a saying “True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know” and I try to follow this because, in the end, it’s better for the patient. The patient deserves to receive the best care from the most qualified professional and I’d never want to stand in the way of that.
I specialize in treating anxiety, depression, working with couples and treating addiction. I do specialize in addiction but, as you can guess, addicts walk in with other mental illnesses as well. It’s very rare to find someone who is just battling addiction. There is at least anxiety and depression present and, quite often, a more serious mental illness is lurking.
You’ve been called one of the most sought after sober coaches. How did you get into sober coaching?
Through personal experience and my training, I have had great exposure to addiction/alcoholism and what it can do to people. You must greatly respect the disease of addiction because, if you don’t, there is little hope to battle it and successfully recover. I believe addiction is one of the most destructive psychological diagnoses out there because of the rates of successful, sustained sobriety are low and the physical, mental and social effect it can have on a person is so tragic and utterly destructive. The addict/alcoholic isn’t the only one affected when addiction takes hold…the person’s entire life, family, social circle and community feel the effects. Treating addicts with compassion and understanding but also utilizing a firm, no-BS approach has given me the honor of helping those who have lost all hope and are walking through the depths of hell. There’s such a stigma surrounding addicts/alcoholics and many who haven’t lived it think “why don’t they just quit.” It’s never that easy…if it were then everyone would be sober.
I got into sober coaching after I saw how many people left rehab and started using again. Many treatment facilities tout their 85% success rate when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many patients leave rehab a begin using again quickly and the reason is that they don’t have a support network outside of the treatment center. There are many people who can get sober inside the walls of a comfortable inpatient treatment center but once you leave you are on your own. Witnessing relapses happen at a high rate disturbed me and realizing that many rehabs are setting their clients up for failure (unwittingly) led me to investigate doing something about it. Sober coaching allows me to help clients transition from inpatient alcohol/addiction rehabs to normal life. One has to learn how to live again…in every sense. If you walk into rehab as an addict…you’ll walk out an addict…hopefully an addict in recovery, but an addict nonetheless. To stay sober, the client needs to make some major changes on every level and this is where a sober coach comes in. You can think of a sober coach as a personal aid in recovery. Sometimes, as a sober coach, you are with someone 24 hours a day for weeks or months at a time as they readjust to normal life. Having a sober coach greatly increases one’s chance at continued sobriety and successful recovery. It would be nice if the recovering addict/alcoholic could live a life without stress, depression or life’s difficulties but this isn’t reality. A sober coach helps a client navigate these difficulties in early recovery to form a solid base upon which to build. Statistics show that, when utilizing a sober coach, the client is 6x more likely to stay sober than when going at it alone. Of course, there are other support networks one could take advantage of if hiring a sober coach is not an option such as 12-step groups and other local support groups.
You can think of it this way…economic costs of addiction are estimated to be half a trillion dollars every year in the United States alone and rising. Half a trillion! 500 million workdays are lost due to addiction problems annually which adds up to $265 billion annually in lost productivity…half of our prisoners are clinically addicted to substances…half of all emergency room visits for trauma or other injury are alcohol related…suicide rates for people suffering from alcohol/drug addiction are 30 times higher than the general population and overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Those are just some of the stats associated with addiction and emphasize the fact that helping addicts/alcoholics stay sober doesn’t just help the addict…it helps society as a whole and that’s a cause I’m proud to be a part of. I do want to mention that if anyone is suffering from addiction/alcoholism and needs help finding a good treatment facility or needs help to navigate their way through early recovery I can be reached at CullenHardy.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can even email me personally at email@example.com
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