For children, living with a parent who behaves unpredictably and chaotically can be frightening and confusing. According to Stamas, the harm happens because children absorb their beliefs from parents, from their environment, and from their siblings. “Unfortunately, we are programmed to think negatively,”
In one technique used by Stamas, he collects 8-10 early childhood memories from his client. Stamas interprets these memories and identifies the rules or self-defeating beliefs that are specific to his client. The client then chooses which beliefs he/she wants to work on and this becomes the treatment plan. Two common self-limiting beliefs for adult children of alcoholics are, “There is something wrong with me and there is nothing I can do about it," and, "I'm all alone in this world and feel emotionally disconnected,”
A big part of treatment at the Adult Children Center is helping clients identify their self-defeating beliefs and behaviors, and transforming them into healthy ones. Stamas, along with his wife Nancy, also a therapist at the Adult Children Center, developed innovative techniques to help clients change their beliefs and behaviors from “fear focused” to “fun focused.” In 1988, they even went so far as to organize a “Beat the Holiday Blues Cruise.” It was so successful they continued the cruises annually for six years. “A lot of people are good to other people but not to themselves. So it was kind of a gift to themselves,”
According to Stamas, the main focus of counseling is to identify and eliminate the old messages people play in their heads and add new healthy messages. “They are either going to recover or repeat the patterns in their lives says Stamas. “The goal for our clients is to recover so they can be happy and comfortable.”
The Adult Children Center also offers “Interventions with Love” in which they work with families to get their loved one help with their alcohol or drug addiction. There is no surprise attack for the chemically dependent person. As part of a four- session process, the first three sessions are attended only by the concerned family or friends. The chemically dependent person is invited to the fourth session to hear their concerns and the therapist’s recommendations for treatment.
About the Adult Children Center
Dene Stamas is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Founder and President of the Adult Children Center, Ltd. in Lombard, Illinois. Adult Children Center is a private practice that works with families affected by chemical dependency. Dene has been program director at four inpatient and outpatient alcoholism treatment programs and has worked as a consultant to many companies. Dene has also authored two books, "The Trap Map" and "New Attitudes."
Nancy Stamas is a Licensed Professional Counselor with specialized training in addictions and adult children of alcoholics. She has expertise working with couples with sexual problems and trained at Loyola's Sexual Dysfunction Clinic.
Dene Stamas, MA, LCPC
Dene Stamas, MA, LCPC