Regarding COVID-19


In these times it can be challenging to find to find the beauty, the joy, and the positivity in life. And yet history shows us, through tragedy is when human beings are often at their best. It is through the darkest moments that sometimes, all of a sudden we realize what our priorities truly are. […]

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Part One: Get Real Sobriety: Healthy Relationships ft. Samantha Matern

“Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate”. CG Jung

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“To let the unconscious go it’s own way and to experience it as reality is something that exceeds the courage and capacity of the average European. He prefers simply not to understand this problem. For the spiritually weakened this is the better course, since the thing is not without its dangers.” – Carl Gustav Jung […]

Regarding Relationships; Two nonnegotiable elements

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By Samantha Matern, Counselor – M.A., J.D.   The two most important, nonnegotiable elements of a healthy relationship of any kind are trust and respect. Love is not a mandatory element of a healthy relationship – only trust and respect are. How many people do you know that you love but can’t have a relationship […]

The Grappling Alternative; By Adam

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Samantha Matern (AKA: Sam, Sami), has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, a Doctorate in Jurisprudence (law degree), and is registered and certified in Addictions Counseling. Samantha is also a Certified Addictions Educator and is currently teaching at Santa Barbara City College.

Professor Matern recently asked a class of her students if they would like their work published on our website, and social media channels.  Many volunteered, and I have been given the arduous task of deciding which papers to publish.  This in no means is indicative of one paper being better than the other.  I have not met any of the students, therefore it is not favoritism either. Over time, we may very well publish them all.

We would like to thank the students for their honesty, vulnerability, and dedication. While we were given permission, last names will not be printed as a right to their privacy.

The Grappling Alternative; By Adam

Learning how to live and succeed as an addict in recovery can seem overwhelming. After the initial 90 days, around the time the pink cloud is starting to wear off, reality sinks in. What does the addict/alcoholic do with their spare time? By this point, habits have been changed. The addict/alcoholic cannot hang out with old using buddies or frequent the same places they once drank and used in. There are many types of recovery support programs and finding the right one can be intimidating and confusing.

From my personal experience, using a combination of positive outlets has been successful. I believe that 12-step based groups can be comforting and enrich the quality of an addict/alcoholic’s life. The 12 steps have been a major key in my road to recovery. I am also very passionate about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a form of grappling, which incorporates Judo, wrestling, and joint locks. One of the many things that I appreciate with the Jiu Jitsu is the sense of community that comes with the practice of the art. Specifically, I have been very impressed with some of the people I have met who started to train Jiu Jitsu, and have been able to remain completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol.

While I can attest to the value and utility of the 12-step program, it does some shortcoming. In particular, some of the drawbacks to the 12-step program are that an addict/alcoholic must concede to a higher power. In addition, when it comes to drug and alcohol use, the addict/alcoholic must admit that they are powerless. To remedy this situation, one must turn their lives over to a power greater than themselves. One of the positive aspects of a 12-step program is an inclusive community, everyone is welcome no matter their age, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. As a member of a 12-step group ascends through the steps, they will clean up the wreckage of their past and understand a new freedom. Another fundamental part of a 12-step program is that the old timers must help the newcomers to sustain their own sobriety.

Similar to a 12-step program, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu everyone is welcome. Once a person starts training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will form a very powerful communal connection with their training partners. Although there is system of belt rankings (based on experience and acquisition of skill), the brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, or academy, is an almost egalitarian gathering place. The raw honesty of Jiu Jitsu practice strips away much of the contrived hierarchal pretense found so commonly in other forms of social interaction. The sense of community leads to a level of involvement with your training partners, where people will be held accountable for showing up to train and questioned if they stop coming to the academy. Another direct correlation between Jiu Jitsu and a 12-step program is that Jiu Jitsu classes are taught by the more experienced members. In most gyms, black belts teach the techniques to the class and then help any student who might be struggling with understanding the technique. This is similar to an old timer helps a newcomer through the steps. Another benefit from training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a positive increase in self esteem. As a person becomes more involved with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will improve their overall health and in turn, most people choose to eat a clean diet to ensure the most nutrients for their body. Lastly, as a person becomes better at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they are rewarded with a higher rank in the form of colored belts starting at white, then blue, purple, brown, and finally black. This provides a demonstrable symbol of commitment and achievement. One dissimilarity I do see between a 12-step program and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is no work on cleaning up the wreckage of one’s past and making amends to all who have been harmed. Although, the reflective practitioner of Jiu Jitsu will look back at their training and think about the way in which they could improve in the future.

I have met many people through training who say Jiu Jitsu saved their life. Two men that come to mind were both former gang members as well as heroin addicts. One of these men has been clean and sober for 15 years now and is no longer an active gang member. In addition, he has achieved the rank of black belt. The second man has been sober for 5 years. He is excelling through the belt system and is no longer an active gang member. Both of these men have respectable jobs and are positive members of society. This is very encouraging for their peers and the younger generation. In conclusion, I want to make it clear that I am not saying that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is better than a 12-step program. For me, a combination of both has been extremely beneficial. I do believe that the similarities between the two might be some indication as to why people can remain abstinent and better their lives through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


A Sacred Relationship: Holding the flashlight

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A Sacred Relationship:
This statement refers to the relationship between the therapist and the client. There is truly an art and a technique in listening. It allows for the opening of the attainment of power. It’s the power of being heard. Being heard is a monumental healing tool for our patients. As I teach my students, one of the things that we emphasize repeatedly is how difficult it is in the ‘helping’ profession to just keep your mouth shut sometimes! We as therapists have a need or desire to truly and deeply help, however, we don’t realize that sometimes helping can actually be hurting.  If we don’t provide an atmosphere for people to speak, in their time, in their own way, then we prevent them from feeling safe. One of the most difficult things to do is to be quiet and be patient, let the person speak without interrupting, without trying to “help” them find their words. Sometimes because we think we know what the person is trying to say, or demonstrate, our skill of understanding (consciously or unconsciously) we may end up cutting them off. Counselors may interrupt their process. A therapist can do great damage to the client/therapist relationship without really even knowing it!
My training has been primarily with the underlying knowledge and awareness that the patient ALWAYS knows the answer to the problem which they suffer from. Our job as healers is to acknowledge the honour and the privilege of “holding the flashlight”  so to speak,  while we go into the deep shadowy parts of the psyche. It is truly an honour and a privilege to be asked and allowed into a person’s psyche, and we must never forget or miss-use the power that the client gives us to help them heal.

Get in touch via email or phone to schedule an appointment if you’re interested in a free 15-minute consultation to learn more. ♥ Samantha Matern  – M.A., J.D.

Clarity; Our Experiences Are Not Mistakes

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I think for this entry from Marianne Williamson’s Language of Letting Go, it really depends on your value system or your belief system. This entry talks a lot about God, a lot about there being a “plan”. For some people this might sound like fatalistic destiny or magical mystical stuff. From a more rational, logical, neurobiological standpoint, I’d like to look at what she is saying as ‘having clarity for a plan’ meaning, that if I am centered, peaceful, and not acting out of a place of fear, then there really is not much confusion going on in my life. Confusion is really just thinking I shouldn’t be confused when in fact I am. Clarity means being willing to sit back, and practice patience and see if I can watch this ‘plan’ (creation) unfold.     ♥ Samantha  
By Marianne Williamson

When we are in the midst of an experience, it is easy to forget that there is a Plan. Sometimes, all we can see is today. If we were to watch only two minutes of the middle of a television program, it would make little sense. It would be a disconnected event.
If we were to watch a weaver sewing a tapestry for only a few moments and focused on only a small piece of the work, it would not look beautiful. It would look like a few peculiar threads randomly placed. How often we use that same, limited perspective to look at our life—especially when we are going through a difficult time. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

We can learn to have perspective when we are going through those confusing, difficult learning times. When we are being pelleted by events that make us feel, think, and question, we are in the midst of learning something important.
We can trust that something valuable is being worked out in us—even when things are difficult, even when we cannot get our bearings. Insight and clarity do not come until we have mastered our lesson.

Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised to grow strong. Repeated experiences of having to trust what we can’t see and repeated experiences of learning to trust that things will work out are what make our faith muscles grow strong.

Today, I will trust that the events in my life are not random. My experiences are not a mistake. The Universe, my Higher Power, and life are not picking on me. I am going through what I need to go through to learn something valuable, something that will prepare me for the joy and love I am seeking.

Samantha Matern: I love the example she gives of coming in halfway through to view a tapestry. Halfway through anything looks like something is unfinished -when in fact, it is unfinished! I like to see this another way -I don’t have the ability to look around corners so sometimes I have to trust that I’m making the right decision because I making the decision from a place of peace not a place of fear, making decisions from a place of fear can often cause us to use dishonesty neediness obsession… Or some other form of physical or spiritual starvation that is actually the cause of us making this decision. Desperation is never a good tool to use when trying to make a decision and trying to gain balance and clarity.

Having a Life Coach or a Counselor can often help a person become clear on what they do or do not want.  Please contact me if I can help.    ♥ Samantha 


Holding Your Own; Trust What YOU know

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It can be difficult to trust ourselves, to return and re-align with our natural given intuition and instincts. After years of avoiding, neglecting, or allowing others to dominate or oppress us, we can finally discover just how far away we have moved from our true self. When we find a coach or teacher that can show us the way back to ourselves, we need never doubt ourselves again – we can think, move, feel, and make choices with complete confidence and certainty. It is an amazing way to live! ♥ Samantha Matern –



From the Language of Letting Go:

“Trust yourself. Trust what you know.

Sometimes, it is hard to stand in our own truth and trust what we know, especially when others would try to convince us otherwise.

In these cases, others may be dealing with issues of guilt and shame. They may have their own agenda. They may be immersed in denial. They would like us to believe that we do not know what we know; they would like us not to trust ourselves; they would prefer to engage us in their nonsense.
We don’t have to forfeit our truth or our power to others. That is codependency. Believing lies is dangerous. When we stop trusting our truth, when we repress our instincts, when we tell ourselves there must be something wrong with us for feeling what we feel or believing what we believe, we deal a deadly blow to our self and our health. When we discount that important part of ourselves that knows what is the truth, we cut ourselves off from our center. We feel crazy. We get into shame, fear, and confusion. We can’t get our bearings when we allow someone to pull the rug from under us. This does not mean that we are never wrong. But we are not always wrong. Be open. Stand in our truth. Trust what you know. And refuse to buy into denial, nonsense, bullying, or coercion that would like to take you off course.Ask to be shown the truth, clearly—not by the person trying to manipulate or convince you, but by yourself, your Higher Power, and the Universe.

Today, I will trust my truth, my instincts, and my ability to ground myself in reality. I will not allow myself to be swayed by bullying, manipulating, games, dishonesty, or people with peculiar agendas.”

If you’re struggling, please get in touch. I’ve provided my email address (above), and a contact form below. My phone number is listed at the top of my website. If you’re not an existing client, the 15-minute consultation is free of charge.


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Be Direct & Honest

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Whether a spouse, significant other, sibling, parent or child …

I have my clients read this over and over again to help them “define the parameters” of each relationship that causes them problems. Defining perimeters means understanding recognizing and being able to accept their own personal rules, ideals, and needs in each individual relationship. Some of the most difficult things we experience in relationships are realizing that love is unconditional, but relationships are not.

We can be honest and direct about our boundaries in relationships and about the parameters of a particular relationship.

Perhaps no area of our life reflects our uniqueness and individuality in recovery more than our relationships. Some of us are in a committed relationship. Some of us are dating. Some of us are not dating. Some of us are living with someone. Some of us wish we were dating. Some of us wish we were in a committed relationship. Some of us get into new relationships after recovery. Some of us stay in the relationship we were in before we began recovering.
We have other relationships too. We have friendships. Relationships with children, with parents, with extended family. We have professional relationships—relationships with people on the job. 

We need to be able to be honest and direct in our relationships. One area we can be honest and direct about is the parameters of our relationships. We can define our relationships to people, an idea written about by Charlotte Kasl and others, and we can ask them to be honest and direct about defining their vision of the relationship with us.

It is confusing to be in relationships and not know where we stand—whether this is on the job, in a friendship, with family members, or in a love relationship. We have a right to be direct about how we define the relationship—what we want it to be. But relationships equal two people who have equal rights. The other person needs to be able to define the relationship too. We have a right to know and ask. So do they. Honesty is the best policy.

We can set boundaries. If someone wants a more intense relationship than we do, we can be clear and honest about what we want, about our intended level of participation. We can tell the person what to reasonably expect from us, because that is what we want to give. How the person deals with that is his or her issue. Whether or not we tell the person is ours. We can set boundaries and define friendships when those cause confusion.

We can even define relationships with children if those relationships have gotten sticky and exceeded our parameters. We need to define love relationships and what that means to each person. We have a right to ask and receive clear answers. We have a right to make our own definitions and have our own expectations. So does the other person.

Honesty and directness is the only policy. Sometimes we don’t know what we want in a relationship. Sometimes the other person doesn’t know. But the sooner we can define a relationship, with the other person’s help, the sooner we can decide on an appropriate course of conduct for ourselves.

The clearer we can become on defining relationships, the more we can take care of ourselves in that relationship. We have a right to our boundaries, wants, and needs. So does the other person. We can not force someone to be in a relationship or to participate at a level we desire if he or she does not want to. All of us have a right not to be forced.

Information is a powerful tool, and having the information about what a particular relationship is—the boundaries and definitions of it—will empower us to take care of ourselves in it. Relationships take a while to form, but at some point we can reasonably expect a clear definition of what that relationship is and what the boundaries of it are. If the definitions clash, we are free to make a new decision based on appropriate information about what we need to do to take care of ourselves.

Today, I will strive for clarity and directness in my relationships. If I now have some relationships that are murky and ill-defined, and if I have given them adequate time to form, I will begin to take action to define that relationship.

Relationships do have rules, boundaries, and limitations. If we know and understand another person’s perimeters then we can decide whether or not we can participate in that relationship. Knowing this, about ourselves and about others allows us to make better decisions as to whether or not this kind of relationship is the kind of relationship we can honestly and authentically participate in. It helps us avoid “spray painting our red flags green”

For more on this, contact Samantha.

Props to Melody Beatty – The Language of Letting Go

Friday’s Quotes – C.S. Lewis

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Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.


We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will, therefore, draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.


We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.


Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.


If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.


Clive Staples Lewis wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. C. S. Lewis’s most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics in The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Learn More About C.S. Lewis