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407: The Three Bears: A Model about the Pain Beneath Addictions that Every Christian Helper Needs to Know

Marnie Ferree, M.A.
Bethesda Workshops
1035 Acorn Dr.
Nashville, TN 37210

No one decides they want to be an addict! Most people who struggle with addiction beat themselves up for all their “bad choices” and shame themselves for getting so far off track. Certainly, loved ones impacted by addictive behavior are dismayed at the repetitive failings and betrayals and wonder how the addict can be so foolish or sinful. This presentation describes how addiction is far beyond a choice (or even a pattern of choices) toward destruction. It explores an important paradigm shift that, while holding addicts fully accountable for their actions, explains how addicts unwittingly become caught up in an addiction that is now far beyond their control. This workshop uses a model of The Three Bears to describe three parts of self: the healthy one, the wounded one, and the coping one. The teaching unpacks how deeply people are impacted by Big T and little t traumas, including attachment breaches that are not repaired. The result is a set of false core beliefs fueled by debilitating shame. Without intervention, individuals cope with their internal pain as best they can. Some of these coping mechanisms are socially and religiously acceptable; others are clearly out of bounds, including addictions of all varieties. Marnie Ferree shares her personal story of recovery from sexual abuse and sexual addiction and outlines clinical and spiritual approaches to arresting addiction and addressing the root issues underneath.

Learning Objectives
Participants will:
• Describe the various forms of trauma (including attachment disruptions) that influence later addictive behavior
• Identify the trauma-fueled coping beliefs and behaviors that are part of the addiction cycle
• Apply steps of developing healthy attachment as part of the recovery process from addiction for addiction counselors and licensed mental health professionals

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