Facilitated by Heather Ross
The group is a community for parents that have a child struggling with substance use.
ITC was created by the psychologists at CMC Foundation for Change. Some of them also wrote the book Beyond Addiction How Science and Kindness Help People Change. If you’re a fan of Beyond Addiction, you’ll love what ITC has to offer. Even if you've never heard of Beyond Addiction, you've finally found what you have been looking for!
ITC allows you to stay connected to your child while creating an environment of supportive change.
The ITC is founded on the idea that behavior does not exist in a vacuum—and that instead, the best way to support a loved one who is struggling is to see their behavior as part of a bigger picture. This means looking at the person’s context: historical (their unique experiences and journey) and social (the relationships that surround them).
A number of psychological studies have shown that social connection plays a vital role in a person’s change process, highlighting that the tone and quality of interactions within close relationships have a significant impact on a person’s outcomes. That is why the ITC focuses on what family members (and other close connections) can do, learn, and say to increase the chances that their loved one changes their behaviors—because it actually makes a difference!
The concepts and strategies included in the ITC are also found in three evidence-based approaches—Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)—all of which have been used to address substance use in a loved one and help people stay connected to what they value in the presence of emotional pain. Research studies that have included both professionals and real families have shown that CRAFT, MI, and ACT have been effective in the following ways:
—and it is the studies supporting the use of these processes (science), the impact of supportive social connectedness (kindness), and collaboration with families that led us to develop the Invitation to Change Approach, housing all these concepts and strategies under one roof.
The ITC is made up of three main parts:
It’s all centered around practice because that’s how you implement and maintain new behaviors in your life.
Helping with Understanding
It’s hard to help someone with a situation you don’t understand. You can’t help someone do their taxes if you don’t understand tax laws and you can’t help your child if you don’t understand substance use.
If you’re taking your child’s substance use personally, think they are selfish or weak-willed, or you don’t understand why they use substances, then supporting them will be incredibly challenging. Those reactions and judgments are normal when you’re confused and scared, but they also make it harder for you to help.
As a family member, you are the constant in your child’s life. They might go to treatment for 30 to 90 days and then see a counselor for 1 hour a week after treatment ends. Maybe they will go to meetings for a couple of hours a week. Outside of that, you are the person they have the most contact with and are best suited to support them.
The understanding section of ITC will give you a new way to think about substance use and that will allow more room for positive change.
Helping with Awareness
The previous section was focused on understanding your child and this one is focused on understanding yourself.
Supporting your child through their substance use isn’t easy. It takes awareness of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and values along with plenty of self-compassion in order to lean into the discomfort and vulnerability of supporting your child under such difficult circumstances.
Helping with Action
The third and final section focuses on communication tools and behavior tools.
If you struggle to communicate with your child without fighting and you both feel misunderstood, communication skills will help you talk to your child in a collaborative way that strengthens your connection and opens them up to the possibility of change.
Behavior tools teach you how to encourage and reward behaviors you want to see more of and discourage ones you don’t want to see.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is essential to change and learning new things. The more you practice the better you get when you learn something new. You also get a chance to see how much work it takes to make changes in your life. Hopefully, that will help you see that your child needs the same time, space, and practice to make changes in their life too.
Here are the topics we will cover over 15 meetings
• How to understand your child’s behavior
• What makes someone decide to change?
• What if they don’t want to change?
• Figuring out what will work for your child and for you
• Talking about substance use
• Practical tools for encouraging change
• Taking care of yourself on this journey
• How to stay connected when things are hard
It is not a therapy or general support group. It’s a learning group with a supportive environment.
The content and learning are also different from other peer-run support groups like 12-step groups and SMART recovery. We don’t spend a lot of time going deep into our personal histories or experiences or solving specific issues.
An ITC group has topic-driven discussions that introduce members to strategies, skills, and new perspectives that they can start implementing in their lives and homes. You will connect with a supportive community and engage with tools and techniques to use in your daily life.
A Few Final Notes
Duration: 15 Week Course that takes place over a period of 30 weeks. You only need to attend the group 2 nights a month. There will be 2 different groups happening. One on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.
Day of the Week: When you sign up a schedule will be emailed to you.
Time: 7:30 pm EST/4:30 pm PST until 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST.
Where: Online Zoom Meeting - the link will be emailed after you sign up.
The group has already started but you can join in at any time.
Heather Ross is the mother of a child who struggled with addiction, a Certified Parent Support Coach, Invitation to Change Certified, CRAFT trained, and the host of the popular podcast called Living with Your Child's Addiction.
Heather tried all the approaches the professionals recommended even though they didn't feel right to her. She tried tough love, waiting for her daughter to hit rock bottom, and other traditional approaches that are confrontational and based on stigma rather than science. Those approaches caused chaos in her home, intense stress for the whole family, and destroyed her relationship with her daughter. Feeling desperate and defeated, Heather stopped everything that wasn’t working and tried something completely different.
The new approaches that she learned from coaching and CRAFT empowered her to support her daughter based on her values as a mother. She brought unconditional love, stability, and emotional health to her relationship with her daughter. Heather educated herself about substance use disorder, started focusing on self-care, learned how to set boundaries and allow natural consequences, and started using positive communication skills.
The changes she made not only repaired but strengthened her relationship with her daughter. It also led her daughter to seek treatment and start her own recovery journey. The recovery path is not a straight line though. It can be filled with many challenging twists and turns. Tragically, Heather’s daughter had a reoccurrence of use and was given a deadly dose of fentanyl.
After the devastating loss of her daughter, Heather called on her tools and resilience to lean into helping more parents and using science-backed education to change the stigma around substance use. She's grateful that she worked hard on herself, learned how to support her daughter, and created a beautiful loving relationship with her.
Heather has a 1:1 coaching program for parents that is family centered, based on science, and works during recovery or active substance use. She believes that parents have more power than they realize and the best gift they can give their child is a healthy parent.
Heather & Helanna