Hi y’all! My name is Betty Pennington and I am an “Alcoholic Whisperer”! What the heck is that you ask? Well, technically I am a parent and relationship coach. I am also a long time recovering alcoholic/addict who really loves teaching families how to deal with the crazy antics of alcoholic/addicts! Because alcoholic/addicts act a lot like horses and families act a lot like traditional horse trainers, over time addicts can turn into dangerous bucking broncos and family members have no idea how that happened or worse – what to do about it. Like horses, addicts respond much more favorably to a “whisperer” approach using psychology and respect principles rather than older, “traditional” society methods of forcing or bossing. Alcoholic Whispering will teach you new, counter intuitive relationship skills which can win the respect of your addict. Instead of dealing with constant fighting and bucking, you can enjoy a fun partnership built on mutual respect.
If you are reading this, you are probably at your wits end with an addict! Welcome! I’m so glad you are here. You are not alone. The families I serve are people just like you, who have tried EVERYTHING to get their loved one sober and things are only getting worse. They have exhausted every other avenue of regular addiction “treatment” methods (usually many times) and are now, even desperate enough to entertain the crazy notion of horse whispering their loved one into sobriety!
The Alcoholic Whisperer Program is a family support program whose primary purpose is to save addicts and their family’s years of heartache and despair by interrupting the addiction pattern with an unconventional, practical approach. I am an “expert” on understanding an addict’s maneuvers to keep everyone off balance and frustrated, because I am one! I now dedicate my life to sharing an addict’s closely guarded secrets with families so you can compete with the addiction on a level playing field.
Here’s how the father of a 21 year old addict described his experience with this unusual treatment approach: (addict’s name is changed to protect anonymity). He had put his son through multiple “treatments” since he was 13.
“After the first conference call and the results it brought for us with Steve, Cathy and I realized we needed much more assistance so we had one more call with Betty to discuss Steve issues. After the second conference call, we decided we needed ongoing assistance from Betty and we committed to 12 sessions.
Now, these tools are not what you would expect. In fact, logically, they seemed to be almost directly opposite of the way I was doing things. It occurred to me the other day that the tools are as such because the alcoholic mind seems very illogical-so a tool for dealing with the craziness has to be somewhat crazy also.
As illogical as it seems (one of those crazy tool things), our son seems to be improving with our “detachment”. Betty teaches us to always be positive and rewarding with compliments when we interact with our son and low and behold he is demonstrating the initial steps towards becoming self sufficient. He has shown much greater responsibility towards what he needs to do.
We, in “detachment” are focusing on ourselves for the first time. We are getting out and doing things outside our comfort zone. As Betty says, we are creating a wonderful, happy life for ourselves, and it is working!!”
My life passion is helping young adults break free from the addiction downward spiral by lovingly helping their family members understand their contributing role to the addiction system. By teaching families to “Whisper” an addict instead of arguing with or pressuring them to change, the locked door for sobriety can open. The most effective way to treat bucking bronco addicts is to treat the family/trainers!
I learned these wonderfully simple, practical and effective relationship rebuilding skills quite unexpectedly through horse whispering training with my beautiful Clydesdale, Killian. I loved this horse with my whole heart and was determined to train him the “right” way so we could ride off into the sunset together. Well, Killian wasn’t so keen for MY plan of riding off into the sunset – he had other ideas and it seemed the harder I worked to train him to see it my way; the more frustrated and agitated he (we) got until finally he kicked me and broke my rib. How rude! And after ALL I had done for him! 🙂
I was devastated and felt I had totally failed. I had to admit defeat. Although traditional horse people assured me it was NOT my fault, he was obviously just a bad horse and that I had done everything right – I could no longer deny that my behaviors were making things worse. I was finally at my wits end and had no idea what to do. Yea!! Because when I finally surrendered and was willing to stop doing what I was doing, the universe showed up and introduced me to a Natural Horsemanship (Horse Whispering) program.
This horse whispering approach was completely opposite to the traditional training of forcing and bossing I had learned. I was finally able to confirm what I suspected – that the bad behavior was not the horse’s fault, it was my training techniques. I watched the horse whisperer take people’s seemingly crazy horses and totally transform them into calm, happy horses within about 15 minutes of working with them! There was NO force involved, just a new communication, understanding and respect for the horse. He allowed the horse to be free, while he ensured it respected his space and he respected its space. Suddenly the horse was a willing partner, eager to follow him anywhere! WOW!
It was obvious the “crazy” horses were being negatively affected by well meaning people who loved their horses but who were also clueless of what the horses really needed! AND…yes, I was one of them! Gasp!
The good news was that I could change me, to help him! I immediately went to work studying a new way of interacting with my horse. I learned that horses are extremely sensitive and very reactive to any perceived pressure. They also play dominance games with their trainers to frustrate and manipulate to get their way. I had an “aha” moment when I realized addicts react the same way! And just like traditional trainers with their horses, traditional families are unknowingly contributing to their addict’s seemingly bad behavior by applying constant pressure to force them to change!
This Alcoholic Whispering approach is completely counter intuitive to the traditional method of trying to convince an addict they need to change. Instead of focusing exclusively on the alcoholic/addict’s behavior, we focus exclusively on changing OUR thoughts and behaviors. Our goal is to build a true partnership with our alcoholic/addict, based on building a relationship of mutual respect. Through studying alcoholic/addict psychology, we learn their language so we can interact with dignity and respect instead of unconsciously criticizing and interfering. By changing us, we can help them!
We always set them free, smile and say “yes you can” instead of “no you can’t”. WE are the catalyst for positive change! When we transform our attitude, the alcoholic/addict’s behavior seems to transform magically!
Here’s what a 22 year old addict daughter said about her parents involvement with this program:
“Despite having countless drug and alcohol counseling sessions through out my numerous stays at an inpatient treatments, I found myself seemingly unable to get a grasp on sobriety for more than a few weeks at a time. I also had parents that despite the best of intentions were enabling my addict behavior because they did not yet have the information on what qualified as enabling and because addicts have an incredible penchant for manipulation.
I had every excuse and ploy you can imagine to get my way and to basically make my parents feel like they owe me everything and anything because, hey, I have a million and one problems and, despite lack of any actual evidence, it was their fault.
When my mother came home, I realized that everything I had known was done. Their actions were different, their behavior was different. I did not get a chance to put on my master manipulator hat, they knew my game and had figured out how to beat me at it. Upon hearing the mention of Betty and Al-Anon being the driving force behind this complete 180 degree change, I certainly had profanity and scathing comments to be said about both.
The tools gained through treatment and AA literature along with the education provided to my parents through Betty and the Al-Anon program truly saved my life.”
To interrupt their negative patterns, addicts must have a whisperer instead of a trainer; strong supporters who are willing to learn positive new ways of understanding and interacting with them. Because I understand how defiant and defensive addicts act when they feel controlled or criticized, I don’t believe in traditional methods that focus on forcing the addict to change. This includes the “tough love” concept.
The Alcoholic Whisperer program is NOT about “tough love” which is just another tactic for pressuring an addict to change THEIR behavior.
The Whispering approach to detachment is the opposite of tough love. Tough love is about withholding things from the addict until THEY change. This form of detachment still has the negative tone of punishment and sends the message that addicts are not acceptable and must change their behavior to meet our expectations. This implies that we are the “right” ones, which continues to make the addict the “wrong” one. This unconscious message of superiority allows the addict to stay angry and defensive which is fuel for the disease of addiction. Giving the addict permission to be exactly who they want to be, pours water on the fire!
Traditional approaches, including tough love, will only cause an addict to change long enough to get back in your good graces and back on the old addictive system merry-go-round. The addict will tell you what you want to hear for as long as it takes until they wear you down and get back on the family life support system (of cleaning up their messes and assuming their responsibilities).
The Alcoholic Whisperer program is designed to help addicts indirectly, by educating family members on how you are (unknowingly) contributing to the addict’s demise by constantly applying pressure to change. You will feel energized and empowered when you realize you can easily handle anything an addict throws at you, responding with only great dignity, love and respect. No more need for walking on egg shells, ineffective nagging, begging, crying or worse. You are no longer in the dark, stumbling around trying to find the right answers to help your loved ones.
We combine an addiction educational approach with practical tools and step by step instructions needed to navigate through the frustrating antics of an alcoholic/addict. You will learn the addict’s 2 main secrets weapons, which are used to keep you off balance, frustrated and doing what they want!
1. Provoke Anger or 2. Create Anxiety
In addition, you will learn to recognize the many smokescreens, diversions and excuses addicts use to keep you feeling crazy, angry or worried – and most of all, assuming their responsibilities! You will learn to recognize these manipulation tactics and have the tools and strategies to calmly counter these attacks with a smile, love and respect.
You will be amazed how fast YOUR despair is changed to joy as you learn to apply these simple techniques.
There’s Nothing to Lose but Misery!
“Betty told us that her coaching would jump start us well into the Al-Anon program and that is exactly what we have found. Cathy and I have shared with the group members at the Al-Anon meetings where we are with Steve and ourselves and we were told by several longtime Al-Anon members that we are far ahead of where normal 30 day members are. It is like we have jumped to an area in the program that allowed us to avoid most of the missteps along the way (although we did plenty of missteps prior to working with Betty and going to Al-Anon).
Although we are still very early in this process, both Cathy and I are seeing great improvement in how we feel. I am actually having periods of calm in between the periods of anxiety (my concerns about Steve and dealing with Steve). As we continue to work with Betty I am finding the short periods of calm are elongating and the long periods of anxiety are shortening. In Al-Anon they speak of reaching serenity and with Betty’s help and Al-Anon I think I can turn the periods of calm into serenity”.
I absolutely love teaching and supporting families about how to get off the miserable merry-go-round of an addiction system. I am an “expert” on the disease system operation as I am an alcoholic/addict; I am a child from an alcoholic system and I love an addicted family member.
Just as with horse whispering, the good news is that in a relatively short period of time, relationships can be healed. A healthy new relationship, based on mutual respect, can be forged from the previous chaos and pain. You will gain so much self respect and power by learning how to set and maintain loving boundaries to protect your space. You will gain control…of YOUR life!
The cornerstone of the whispering concept is simple: as we learn to give more & more respect to others, we magically get it for ourselves.
We are here to help! We will give you new answers, and most importantly, the support to follow through so you can start pouring water all over the fire of addiction.
As the people closest to the addict, YOU hold incredible power to help stop the destructive cycle!
– By learning how to apply these novel whispering techniques, you can quickly shut down addiction’s power to dominate your life.
– The confidence you gain by successfully applying these new techniques, will quickly lower your frustration and lessen your anxiety levels about your loved one’s well being.
P.S. These principles also apply to transforming any strained relationship!
“What I find really crazy is the fact that these tools seem to work in our everyday life outside of the alcoholic. This past weekend, with our Life Coach’s guidance, we applied the tools and were able to work out a long standing, really messy situation we were having with our next door neighbor. In doing so, we have now relieved ourselves of that stress and anxiety.”
Pretty cool, huh? Come check it out! There’s nothing to lose but misery.
Update: Although Betty has retired from long-term coaching, she still enjoys teaching personalized educational classes on the addiction system. See the page “How much does it cost?” for more details or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org