Dr Allen Berger Brings Inspiration to Aurora

Dr. Allen Berger, international recovery authority welcomed by Aurora Recovery Centre.

Have you spent time contemplating the nature of substance use disorders, either from a personal perspective of someone living with the illness, or as someone in relationship to a loved one impacted by addiction? Understanding the causes can be perplexing as we seek to apply a solution.

On October 19, 2020, Aurora was heightened and inspired by the teachings of Dr. Allen Berger, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology. He shared from decades of personal and professional experience in helping clients see their true potential and become excited about their lives.

Dr. Berger has an amazing ability to present an enlightening and understandable perspective on an often-complex situation. In his work, he easily and equally relates to treatment professionals and to those who are navigating their own recovery journeys.

He speaks with the authority that 49 years of sobriety brings. His teachings emphasize the importance of maintaining Emotional Sobriety.

Aurora’s president, Steve Low, expressed his appreciation for this workshop.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Allen about 12 years ago, participated in a few of his training sessions and worked closely with him in a cross-referral relationship. His willingness to partner with us is a true gift. It is a true blessing to be receiving this level of excellence.”

We gathered in the auditorium for his Zoom presentation and were immediately impacted by Dr. Berger’s enthusiasm for assisting people in becoming “actualized.” He shared his background and life experience, and it became apparent that his enthusiasm springs from his own experience of surviving active addiction and embracing recovery. He expressed gratitude and amazement with how his career and life have unfolded.

Dr. Berger shared on his early life experiences, how the death of his father at age 10 had a devastating impact on him and his family, and how he internalized his grief. These feelings were expressed by acting out in anger and rebelliousness involving alcohol and drugs.

He joined the Marine Corps and saw active duty in Vietnam. Addiction progressed and intensified. Life became increasingly unmanageable until he was fortunately diverted to a new drug treatment program instituted by the Marines. His recovery began, and Dr. Berger embraced the 12 Steps, sponsorship, and the fellowship.

As he transformed away from hopelessness and delusion, he began to get excited about his own possibilities. He related an amazing story of transforming from a high school dropout to achieving a Ph.D. in Psychology 16 years later. Many incredible career accomplishments followed.

Many heads nodded in affirmation as the doctor explained his philosophy with us. It was interesting to hear how society and culture teach us to be “human doings” rather than “human beings.” We focus on having things or status because we feel we will not be lovable or acceptable otherwise. Fixed ideas, beliefs, and an idealized image develop about who we “must” be and what we “should” do. This is not congruent with our true self, and we make unconscious compromises. Shame, anxiety and self-loathing results.

Even if we fall into those ideas and beliefs, there is hope. There is a solution. In Dr. Berger’s words, “Each person has a true, amazing, and real self that wants to come out, to be seen, and realized. My goal is to reclaim that true self. That is the way to break the vicious cycle and the way to ease our social crisis.”

Recovery was defined as “reclaiming the lost true self.” Due to its nature, addiction thwarts the drive to embrace our innate goodness and drive to live to our whole authentic potential, so “the discovery of new possibilities” was also put forward as a definition of recovery.

Counsellor Joe Petriccione has had the benefit of previous training sessions with Dr. Berger, and after our workshop, he shared his impressions.

“Training with him is amazing, as is his dedication to the work. He opened my eyes. He started to plant the seed that I don’t have to be so confrontational, ‘let me tell you what you need to do’ kind of therapist. I shifted to leading from behind, and watch where the person is at in the present moment. Remove my history and personal prejudices from the encounter.”

Joe has been working in the addiction treatment field for 46 years, and his experiential therapy skills have benefited from his interactions with Dr. Berger. “I look forward to much more training” he states.

Steve Low shares that we are going to be blessed with more workshops in the upcoming months, both staff trainings and member sessions. Aurora looks forward to sharing this recovery knowledge and experience to our alumni community.

About Dr. Allen Berger

This is a very simplified summary of the presentation. Some of you may be familiar with Dr. Berger’s published work:

  • 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery: Avoiding Relapse through Self-Awareness and Right Action (Hazelden Publishing)
  • 12 More Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery: Navigating Common Pitfalls on your Recovery Journey (Hazelden Publishing)
  • 12 Smart Things to do When the Booze and the Drugs Are Gone: Choosing Emotional Sobriety through Self-Awareness and Right Action ((Hazelden Publishing)
  • 12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends: Finding Forgiveness and Self-Respect by Working Steps 8-10 (Hazelden Publishing)

A full biography and access to Dr. Berger’s published books, Audio CD series, YouTube videos on Emotional Sobriety, and other recovery material can be accessed on his website: Dr. Allen Berger

By Tim Dickson