Dr. Mary Spease


Currently writing an article about couples for PsychCentral with Dr. Heather Gaedt! Stayed tuned to find out when it’s published on their site!!!

Center for Healthy Change: Julieann Myers

Julieann Myers is a dear friend and colleague of mine as well as the owner/founder of ‘Center for Healthy Change’ located in Del Mar. I had the pleasure of spending some time with her yesterday and left with renewed admiration regarding her passion for helping others.

She along with a few other clinicians provide individual, couples, and group therapy specializing in addictions, trauma, EMDR, athletic performance enhancement, ADHD, mindfulness, life/career coaching, and eating disorders. In addition, they provide intensive aftercare programming for individuals and their family members who have completed inpatient treatment as well as continuing care groups for SierraTucson/CRC alumni and family.

Julieann is an extremely compassionate and effective clinician who I have often referred to given the unwavering positive reviews received from my clients. If you would like to know more about Center for Healthy Change, feel free to view their website:

Center for Healthy Change

Sierra Tucson Programs

Last night I had the honor of attending a networking dinner at the Brigantine Restaurant in Del Mar hosted by Sierra Tucson.  Sierra Tucson is a wonderful treatment facility that provides therapeutic support for individuals struggling with various issues including:

-Addictions/Co-Occurring Disorders
-Mood & Anxiety Disorders
-Eating Disorders
-Pain Management
-Dual Diagnosis

In addition, they strive to meet the unique needs of each client by offering a variety of treatment modalities such as:

-The 12-Step Process
-Adventure Therapy
-Cognitive Therapy
-Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
-EMDR Therapy
-Equine-Assisted Therapy
-Experiential Therapy
-Family Therapy
-Grief & Spirituality Therapy
-Individual & Process Group Therapy
-Integrative Therapy Treatment
-Nutritional Therapy

If you know someone who is ready for recovery or is newly sober and might benefit from Sierra Tucson, I encourage you to learn about their program:

Sierra Tucson

If you are new in recovery and in need of longer term support on an weekly basis or have been in recovery for some time and wish to strengthen it, feel free to view my website:

Dr. Mary Spease

Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT): San Diego

Today I had the pleasure of attending a meeting for the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment hosted by Jennifer Tarzia from Center For Discovery. It was wonderful to meet other women in the field of addiction and come together in our passion for helping those in recovery. Women who work in private practice, intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization/residential programs, or own sober living homes were in attendance representing the various levels of care that are available to individuals in recovery.

For anyone who understands alcoholism or addiction, then you know that the addict/alcoholic can’t do it alone and often seek support through therapy, 12-step meetings, and sponsorship. The same is true for the professionals who work with them, we can’t do it alone. Therefore, WAAT has provided a great forum in which women in the world of addiction can gather and share their respective work and how they are uniquely of service to clients.  By doing so, it allows us to continually enhance our knowledge and understanding of addiction and recovery as well as further develop our skill set.  In addition, it provides an opportunity for each of us to foster trusted relationships in which to utilize and collaborate with when a client is in need of adjunctive therapies or support.

If you are a woman in the addition field and are interested in connecting with others who share your passion for this work, I encourage you to learn more about WAAT.

5 Common Experiences of Loved Ones of Addicts & Alcoholics

When in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction or alcoholism, it is important to remember that they are not the only ones effected. We too become impacted despite our good intentions and best efforts. The following are just a few ways our emotions, thinking, and behavior may shift:

1) Obsession: It is not uncommon to learn that loved ones begin to focus on another’s drinking including counting how many drinks they’ve had, searching for alcohol in the house, getting rid of any alcohol found, or wondering if where they are going involves alcohol. This is one way we loose focus on ourselves and our well-being.

2) Anxiety: As the alcoholics behavior begins to change and the importance they’ve placed on their own well-being, relationships, career, or responsibilities decrease, we often find ourselves making up the difference. We may feel the alcoholics feelings for them by worrying about their health, job, education, bills, etc. We may assume the alcoholics responsibilities as a way to keep them from suffering consequences as well as reduce our own anxiety. We might even get involved in the alcoholics relationships as a way to repair any upset the alcoholic has caused.

3) Denial: As a way of self-protection, we often ignore our instincts or any perceived red flags due to our desire for connection and/or peace. We may focus on the positive aspects of the alcoholic and what we love about them even though we might rarely get to experience these wonderful parts of who they are. We may even minimize unhealthy and unacceptable behavior during brief periods of sobriety or in response to sporadic loving gestures. Being honest about the reality of our situation would require tolerating immense self-relfection and change.

4) Feelings of Guilt: With enough time, we may begin to feel as though we are somehow responsible and to blame for the alcoholics behavior. We may feel that we are the cause of their drinking, insecurities, rage, etc. We may tell ourselves that if we only would have said something a bit differently or didn’t say it at all, perhaps the alcoholic wouldn’t behave the way they do.

5) Anger: Often times, the longer we are in a relationship with the alcoholic, we begin to experience anger. We feel angry about the hurtful things they’ve said or done, the times in which they’ve lied, or how they seem to take for granted how much we provide for or take care of them. We start to feel resentful towards the alcoholic and may even want to make them pay for how much they have hurt us (even though we’ve voluntarily assumed more responsibility that was ours).

Therapy and Al-Anon are wonderful sources of support and can help you begin to learn how you have been effected by alcoholism and ways recover. If you are the loved one of an addict/alcoholic and would like to begin taking care of yourself, feel free to contact me at 858.888.3261.

Sierra Tucson & Outback Therapeutic Expeditions

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop hosted by Sierra Tucson in which the Executive Director (McKay Deveraux, CSW) and Clinical Director (Jason Calder, LMFT, LCPC) from Outback Therapeutic Expeditions provided education regarding their wilderness program.

Outback works with teens (13-17) who are struggling with “family conflict, negative peer groups, Internet and video game addiction, academic underachievement, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, and other emotional and behavioral issues”. They strive to provide a “warm, encouraging and non-confrontational approach while challenging students to harness their own inner strengths to launch into young-adulthood with confidence and success.”

What makes Outback unique is how they incorporate experiential therapies into the program as a way to gain insight into the teens emotional and behavioral patterns. Although they value talk therapy, they also recognize that behaviors often speak louder than words. Further, they offer a Parent Program in efforts to provide support to the family system and increase the teens ability to sustain long term change.

If you would like more information about Outback or Sierra Tucson, feel free to explore their websites:

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
Sierra Tucson

So You Love an Alcoholic

Alcoholism is a family disease meaning it not only effects the person who drinks, but also those they are in relationships with. Alcoholism does not discriminate, therefore, whether you are a co-worker, friend, significant other, or family member, you too may be effected. Yet those that are the closest to the alcoholic are usually the most deeply impacted as we find ourselves preoccupied by their emotions and behavior.

We may or may not be consciously aware of how we have been effected, yet often times we wind up reacting to their drinking and the behaviors that come along with it. We may feel anxious or angry when they drink, we might personalize things they say or do while intoxicated, we might began to avoid social gatherings due to fear of what the alcoholic might do, or we may try to control or stop the drinking.

However, regarding alcoholism, it is important to remember that we did NOT cause it, we CAN’T control it, and we CAN’T cure it. It is not our responsibility to fix, save, or rescue the alcoholic from their own emotional experiences, behaviors, or consequences. It is a fruitless effort that will often leave us feeling emotionally drained, helpless, hopeless, and inept. And often, our efforts to help actually perpetuate undesired behaviors as we shield the alcoholic from suffering the very consequences that may motivate them to change.

What we CAN do, is focus on what is within our control (ourselves) and learn how to best take care of our own well-being. Therapy and Al-Anon can be wonderful tools in which to learn how to focus on and honor our emotions and behavior, identify our role in the relationship, and see our ourselves and our circumstances more clearly. As a result, we can begin to explore various ways to approach our loved one and our situation in a more adaptive manner.

We CAN also learn how to love the alcoholic without necessarily loving their behavior. We do so by developing the ability to separate the person from the disease. As a result, we are then able to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful things we love about them as well as how to detach, disengage, or let go of what we don’t feel comfortable with. We don’t have to try and fix everything we don’t like about the alcoholic, we simply need to adjust how we respond to it.

Family, Friends, & the 4th of July

The 4th of July is a significant and meaningful day for our country. Although most of us celebrate by spending time with family/friends and watching fireworks, this day might just mean a little something different to each of us.  What does the 4th mean to you and how did you celebrate?image

Happy 4th of July!

Wishing everyone a very safe and Happy 4th of July!!!


How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics

If you love someone struggling with alcoholism and would like to learn about how you may have been effected, this book can be a wonderful resource. It can help provide a deeper understanding into the disease of alcoholism and the impact it has on both the alcoholic and those in relationships with them. It can shed light as to how a loved one’s perceptions, feelings, and behaviors often change as a result of the effects of alcoholism. Further, it will provide helpful information regarding various tools that can be employed to practice new and healthier ways of living and loving the alcoholic.

How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics

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