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Myths About Breakthrough

The Breakthrough at Caron program has been helping individuals improve their relationships and lives for over 30 years.

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Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.

The program has evolved over time so that it could continue to meet the ever-changing needs of the attendees. The below list of myths about Breakthrough may help clarify the program’s current focus and approach.

Myth #1 - Breakthrough is basically a program for treatment of codependency.

Fact - Breakthrough addresses the patterns and issues that some would identify as codependency. Unfortunately the term is often misused or misunderstood today. When first introduced, the word codependency implied that individuals were lacking differentiation and independence. The term has now become associated with loving too much, lack of healthy boundaries or enabling. Breakthrough is grounded in attachment theory, and we believe that the problems presented by adults who want to improve their relationships and strengthen self esteem are best viewed from an attachment lens. Their need is not to become more separate but to grow toward mature and healthy connections. It is natural to love and care for others, and Breakthrough focuses on finding balance in loving relationships.

Myth #2 - The goal of experiential group work is catharsis.

Fact - History has shown that the cathartic release of painful emotions alone does not lead to sustained positive changes in quality of life. Grieving or releasing shame experientially in a group of supportive peers may be an important part of the process for some, but it must be done safely and only when it is indicated for the individual client. Anger discharge is no longer considered to be an effective tool to move clients forward. The actual goal of experiential group therapy is to provide a new way of looking at one’s patterns and attachment style. Experiential exercises tap into what has thus far been unknown and offers a real time, multidimensional and multi-sensory point of view for clients. Participating in or observing the work of others in a group provides another opportunity for clients to see the things they would not have been able to in other forms of counseling.

Myth #3 - Experiential group work opens the client up and then leaves them vulnerable and defenseless after the program.

Fact - The screening process prior to attending the workshop ensures that all who attend are ready and able to do emotional work at their own pace and with the freedom to choose how far they want to go. The first day of the program is spent building a safe environment within the group through the structure of the program and the professionalism of the staff. The remaining four days include activities that reframe past experiences and mistakes as natural and normal reactions to painful events in loving human relationships. Group exercises help clients to face losses, reduce shame and guilt while learning to rely on others when in distress. Once trust is established, each client is provided with an opportunity to participate in their own psychodrama or similar action method tailored to their individual needs which highlights and offers new ways of addressing the problems they face. By Friday, the group is thoroughly prepared to return to their lives where most will follow the guidelines (written and verbal) that are provided for aftercare and utilization of support systems and therapy.

Myth #4 - The Breakthrough program was designed only for people with issues related to addiction or recovery

Fact - Although the original five day program was designed in 1983 as a “family program” for those who had a loved one with addiction, its purpose and clientele have expanded beyond addiction as we discovered that stress in a family comes in many and often multiple forms. The unique group approach used in the program is very successful for those who live with different types of dysfunction and even adults whose childhood was a positive experience but are struggling with their relationships today.

Myth #5 - Clients must have a therapist (or be referred by a therapist) to come to Breakthrough.

Fact - Many participants come to Breakthrough without a referral or a regular therapist; however, it is highly recommended that they plan to see a therapist when they complete the program in order to follow through on the progress and commitments they have made to themselves. This is especially important for those who are early in their growth process. At times, and depending on individual circumstances, potential clients may be required to participate in a few sessions of individual therapy prior to attending Breakthrough. If an individual does not have a therapist in their area, one will be recommended. We also emphasize the need for using or developing a support system immediately after leaving the program.

Myth #6 - Because Breakthrough operates only in a group setting no individualized work takes place.

Fact- From the first contact we are concerned with the individual needs of each client. A thorough history is taken, and the therapist assigned to a client familiarizes him or herself with the history, problems and goals of the client. Individualized work is done within the group support system. Two full days of the program are spent on psychodramas where each individual has the opportunity to address individual needs and issues. Client input is extremely important, and the client’s personal therapist (at home) is contacted at least twice during the five days.

Myth #7 - All clients are expected to work on past family of origin issues as the means to change.

Fact - Breakthrough is very much a present-centered program, which will dip into early childhood dynamics only as they pertain to their present challenges. In reality, the primary goal is improved quality of life today as defined by the client. We meet the client where they are and focus on what they need in order to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Myth #8 - People who have never been in a group or say they are not “group people” will not do well.

Fact - Many of the people who come to Breakthrough and benefit from its unique approach are concerned that they will not be able to open up or let others know them. The intimacy that is created in the group is unlike other social situations. It is very gradual and safe, transforming a group of strangers into a close-knit family hour by hour and day by day. The process that allows and encourages the trust that develops is strategic and has been practiced for over the 30 years of this program. We know what works and what might interfere with the evolution of trust. We do our best to make every group safe and shame free.

Myth #9 - Breakthrough is helpful for those with a severe trauma history.

Fact - Breakthrough is not designed as the first line of treatment for those who have suffered physical or sexual abuse as children or adults. Those who have experienced trauma need to first participate in primary treatment with a therapist who specializes in trauma. Trauma therapy is centered on achieving bodily, emotional and physical safety in the here and now. Seeking trauma therapy first helps the client to self regulate and reduces the overwhelming emotional and physical sensations caused by the trauma.

Once an individual is determined to be emotionally stable, Breakthrough may be appropriate to help with ongoing patterns, improve self esteem and address relationship challenges. In the five day program, clients are able to work with the fears of normal life, and have a “real time” experience of positive change. The intake process conducted by our trained staff will help identify the best time to attend.

Myth #10 - Breakthrough is a substitute for those who need inpatient mental health or addiction treatment.

Fact - Breakthrough is a voluntary, non-emergent, intensive personal growth workshop. Breakthrough is not a medical or psychiatric facility. No diagnosis is given; no medication is prescribed or evaluated. The program is not equipped to monitor serious emotional distress or self- injurious behaviors. Breakthrough is not a shorter alternative or an intervention program for needed psychiatric or addiction treatment. It is important that all potential clients are completely honest during their intake process so that appropriate recommendations may be provided