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January 2010 – Tips & Topics

Volume 7, No. 9
January 2010

In this issue
— SAVVY – Senior Vice President and what it means for you
— SKILLS – Impaired Driving Article and a Mini -Video
— SOUL – Conan O’Brien and Cynicism
— SHAMELESS SELLING – Get to know The Change Companies
— Until Next Time 

This is a new year, a new decade and for me, a new opportunity to build on the foundations of my 33 years’ life work.  For you as a TIPS and TOPICS (TNT) reader, you will still continue to receive my monthly e-newsletter as always. In addition to access to 7 years of TNT archives and a broader variety of free resources, you will be introduced to a menu of proprietary resources for clients, clinicians, administrators in addiction, mental health and criminal justice settings. 

Starting this month, David Mee-Lee, the psychiatrist, trainer and consultant is joining with The Change Companies and becoming Senior Vice-President. In process right now, (the website) is being merged into


A brand new site is in the making and will be up very soon.


Since 2003 many of you have written expressing your appreciation for the information and tips in the monthly newsletter and how you use them practically in your daily work – whether as a clinician or an administrator. 

The Merger 

When DML Training and Consulting (David Mee-Lee, M.D.) was invited to join forces with The Change Companies (TCC), I was offered an irresistible infrastructure along with a dedicated, creative, innovative, committed team of people to work with. I recognized the chance to augment my work to offer a greater range and variety of services, products and training opportunities to the behavioral health fields- opportunities I, as a sole individual, could not provide fully as a one-person company. 

The Change Companies: 

  • Was established 20 years ago
  • Provides practical, cost-effective solutions for hospitals, agencies, departments and programs that are in the business of helping individuals lead healthier, more productive lives.
  • Has conservatively served 20 million individuals in the life of the company
  • In 2009 served over 4.000 customers in all 50 states of the USA as well as internationally
  • Has worked with customers ranging from major state and federal agencies to small, private companies in behavioral health and criminal justice settings, and impaired driving programs.

Why take a new job and what does this mean for you?  

Because it’s not about the job.  It’s about the mission.  It’s about being able to be on a TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More (that’s not original, but I don’t know who said it). 

–> What I have learned clinicians and administrators want and need in training and consulting, I can’t provide as a one-person business. 

–> What I have learned about what clients and consumers want and need to help them in a self-change process, I can’t facilitate as a one-person business. 

Call me idealistic and unrealistic, but I think there is an exciting array of opportunities, services and technologies which will harness the collective wisdom and experience of all of us who work in this field. 

Join me in getting to know The Change Companies and our new strategic alliance. 

Here are excerpts from two recent announcements.

#1  From The Change Companies in December
“Holiday gifts come in all kinds of packages.
For employees and clients of The Change Companies, the announcement that David Mee-Lee, M.D. has accepted the position of Senior Vice President of The Change Companies is a gift we’re excited to share. 

David’s philosophy of promoting empathy, compassion, communication and flexibility is precisely aligned with The Change Companies. He’s well known for focusing on participant-centered services that uphold clinical integrity, high quality and cost- consciousness. David has long believed in empowering and engaging clients to be active participants in their own treatment. 

David will enhance our ability to provide person-centered treatment and program development resources. As a leading expert in co-occurring disorders, he’ll assist us in reaching our goal of supporting physicians and others in the helping profession deliver effective services for those working through behavior change. 

On a personal note, David’s curiosity and sense of humor is something we look forward to experiencing more of and feel he is a perfect match for our team.
There are now more than 4,000 programs nationwide using The Change Companies’ resources. Considering this and our recent growth in multimedia technologies like distance learning, website development and video production, we will be able to provide David with a diverse and growing platform to serve professionals who are striving to offer quality behavior-change programs.

With the addition of David to our team, the holiday season is looking bright. We look forward to a healthy and productive New Year. 

On behalf of all of us at The Change Companies, I’d like to thank you for your support in 2009. We look forward to continue serving you in the years to come.”

Don Kuhl, CEO
The Change Companies – The Change Companies® is a national publishing, consulting, training and video company that works with leading industry experts to develop effective evidence-based materials that assist individuals in making positive life change.  


Issue Date: Online Exclusive, Posted On: 12/15/2009Change agents who embrace research evidence and a human touch join forces
David Mee-Lee, MD will join The Change Companies in January
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
Internationally known trainer and consultant David Mee-Lee, MD and national publishing and consulting company The Change Companies would appear to make an ideal match. Both have carved strong reputations in advocating that addiction treatment use strong evidence-based tools to guide its services. Yet at the same time, both shun cookie-cutter approaches to treatment, believing individual client factors must shape the care that is received.Mee-Lee will become a senior vice president of the Nevada-based company in January, expanding on a consulting role he has held with The Change Companies. A successful developer of workbooks and other evidence-based materials that help individuals make productive changes in their lives, The Change Companies is looking forward to being able to package to its clients Mee-Lee’s expertise along with these written materials. 

“What I appreciate most about David is that his real interest is to apply the research in the field,” making it extremely relevant to treatment programs, says Don Kuhl, The Change Companies’ CEO. 

Mee-Lee adds that in joining a company that for years has provided affordable and accessible materials to treatment programs, correctional facilities and other entities, he will have a vehicle for making his training services more affordable to clinicians and programs. 

Chief editor of the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM’s) Patient Placement Criteria, Mee-Lee sees the parallels between his work and his new employer’s. He believes use of ASAM’s scientifically-based dimensions is most effective when implemented in a client-centered way, and he sees this as a strength of The Change Companies’ trademarked Interactive Journaling and other tools for change. “Theirs is not a canned, one-size-fits-all approach,” Mee-Lee says. 

Mee-Lee’s dynamic outlook on the promise of effective treatment appears to fit well with a company that states in its online description of its services, “By the time you read this message, The Change Companies will already have changed.” 


Here is a taste of the broader variety of free resources. 

TIP #1- an article 

At some time or other most clinicians will work with clients who are mandated for treatment. On The Change Companies’ website you can read an article originally written for Impaired Driving programs, however the principles expressed in there do apply more broadly to all mandated clients, regardless of your particular work setting. 

In Impaired Driving Education and Intervention programs, it can be an opportunity lost if the focus is solely on education and compliance with the legal mandates.  Such programs can reinforce a participant’s perspective that he/she is present only to comply with legal requirements to get his/her driver’s license back.  But for some participants, their arrest is the tip of the iceberg of a severe addiction problem.  They need the opportunity to “do treatment” not “do time”.   They need an introduction to the opportunity for recovery. 

Studies estimate that the average impaired driver has driven impaired between 300 and 2,000 times before their first arrest.  Accordingly, reducing recidivism requires a change in behavior – whether it is driving behavior, substance use or both. To accomplish this, educational intervention programs are most effective when they are rooted in a behavioral change focus.  This highlights the importance of the clinical part of the impaired driving program’s mission. 


The full article and references on “Moving Beyond Compliance to Lasting Change” can be accessed at:   

TIP #2- a video 

Take a look at this video clip where I share some thoughts about the spirit and application of the ASAM Patient Placement criteria, individualized treatment planning and building the therapeutic alliance.   


Conan O’Brien also changed jobs this January.  Perhaps you have not tuned into the news lately or you live outside the USA.  He had dreamed for years of hosting the decades’ long fixture on late night TV, The Tonight Show, and only began 7 months ago.  On January 22, Conan hosted his final show. 

Because of market forces, NBC wanted to push The Tonight Show back to a later time slot. Conan was left with the decision – to agree to the later start time or leave.  He chose to leave rather than jeopardize the quality and heritage of the show. 

I’m certain there were many moments of anger, anxiety and angst when he felt he received the short end of the stick.  Furthermore Conan received lots of reinforcement to be sour and cynical as his fans and supporters rose up in protest.  What caught my attention though, were his final words in the final moments of the show when Conan turned to his younger viewers: 

“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It’s doesn’t lead anywhere. No one in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”  

Now it might be easy to be cynical and object- “Well he’s not exactly in the same position as a poor factory worker who loses his job because of changes in market forces. After all Conan did negotiate a $33 million severance package for himself, and $12 million for his staff.” But then you’d be cynical – exactly what Conan O’Brien was talking about! 

His other parting comment that caught my attention was:  “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” While it all may not be as simple as that, it is a really good place to start in your life and career.  This month I’ve changed jobs and amazing things will happen for me and for you.  Sorry, I can’t get for you (my readers) $12 million, but I will do all I can to expand the ease and access you will have to affordable and effective training and consultation. 


Recently a reader suggested that when I promote products and services it has really nothing to do with shame.  She has welcomed my bringing attention to resources which, on her own, she might never have known about, were it not for my highlighting them in this section of TNT.  No shame needed! 

Even though The Change Companies has been around for 20 years quietly serving millions of people, they have done little self-promotion. Unfortunately ‘flying below the radar’ has meant that many people are unaware of a whole array of resources which could help millions more.  That should and will change! 

Before this new current position I was asked a couple of years ago to be a Senior Advisor to TCC, along with James Prochaska (Stages of Change) and William Miller (Motivational Interviewing). At that time I penned some thoughts about The Change Companies.  You will enjoy getting to know them too. 


It has been said that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.  I would have thought that having over thirty years experience in mental health and addiction treatment might qualify me for being rather knowledgeable about how people change and what helps them grow and recover.  I have, after all, worked with thousands of patients and clients either directly in private practice; or indirectly through leading and managing treatment services across the country. 

Yet, when I was introduced to The Change Companies just a few years ago, I realized that there was a significant delivery mechanism for positive behavioral change termed Interactive Journaling, of which I knew very little.  Quite apart from being impressed with how effective and efficient this guided journaling system was in assisting people in making lasting change, I was impressed with The Change Companies itself.  Here again, I was ignorant of a company that had been doing business for nearly twenty years touching millions of lives in a wide range of behavioral health populations about which I thought I was quite knowledgeable. 

The more you know, the more you don’t know. 

For over 20 years, I have worked on developing criteria for systems of care that promote person-centered, individualized treatment and a flexible menu of services.  So it caught my attention to be introduced to a company that has also been in the behavioral change business for nearly two decades providing a flexible, cost efficient, consumer-friendly system of resources to guide individuals toward positive change. Here was a company whose mission, methods and marketing had demonstrated that you can do well by doing good.  Here was a company that incorporated evidence-based practices in an engaging, accessible, cost-effective, client-directed system that provided the right balance of guided structure with client self-application and personal participation.  The Change Companies had found a way to marry evidence-based change strategies and principles that I believed in with a collaborative, participatory system of resources that had reached far more people than I could ever have imagined. 

Clinicians, counselors, practitioners, programs and payers want affordable and effective resources that provide enough structure to guide people in their journey out of the chaotic devastation caused by addiction and mental illness.  Yet they need resources that enhance people’s natural self-change process; that empowers people to make lasting change and helps clients, patients and consumers to “do treatment” not “do time”. 

The Change Companies’ MEE (Motivational, Educational and Experiential) Journal System provides the structure of multiple, pertinent topics from which to choose; but allows for flexible personalized choices to help this particular client at this particular stage of his or her stage of readiness and interest in change. 

And I expect there is even yet much more that we don’t know about what we can do to attract even more people into recovery.  What I do know however, is that there are still many more people needing help who can be reached by building on the successful foundation The Change Companies has already established.  


Stay tuned for some new developments over the year. See you in late February. 


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