For many people suffering from rather peculiar disorders that many people don’t understand that much, such as dyslexia, schizophrenia, and multiple personalities, the hope of them getting better is close to impossible. But Dan Hostetler, who works in providing recovery programs for free, begs to differ. He joins Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. to share his experiences and the procedures they are offering at Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center, an addiction treatment facility dedicated to understanding and dispelling trauma. Dan gives a sophisticated tour of their entire facility and emphasizes the importance of going beyond the symptoms to find the root cause of every disorder for patients to achieve full recovery.
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Helping The Broken Through Free Recovery Programs With Dan Hostetler
My guest is Dan Hostetler, a self-described alcoholic in recovery. Dan runs a free harm reduction, behavioral addiction treatment center on Chicago’s West Side. He tells us his organization provides the highest level of addiction treatment services available anywhere to those who cannot afford to pay for them while assisting them with housing and employment.
Dan, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
Thank you, Dr. Hayes.
It’s great to see you. You’re looking good.
You’re looking great yourself.
What’s new over at Above and Beyond Family Center?
We have a lot of things new, quite a bit going on, quite a bit of exciting stuff. We’re always interested in the origins of where these addictions come from. A lot of them come from early childhood trauma which is our belief. We’re looking at how that might manifest, how that might play its way out through a person’s life and end up in substance use disorder. One of the things that we were always curious about is literacy because we have a lot of people that are early school dropouts. A lot of our patients here dropped out in early years. A lot of them do not have high school diplomas. We’ve been offering for years a GED program. We never had a big number of takers even though we have a huge number of people that have not completed high school.
It’s been frustrating. We have a Vista volunteer. She’s got her Master’s degree in Education, and she’s taken a deep dive in this to try to figure out why we don’t get more participation in this. We had a hunch that maybe we had a prevalence of dyslexia. We have been screening for dyslexia. As we have screened for dyslexia, this is not only new patients coming in, but we have about 250 active patients at any one time. We’ve gone through and done over 100 screenings. We have a little over 60% screen positive for dyslexia. That’s a big number. Now we’re in the process of doing a correlation between screening and diagnosis to see what that correlation is, and we lose about 5%. There are four other disorders that we’ve come up with.
We’ve come up with a number of partners that we can work with, other nonprofit organizations that we can refer them to so that they can get some benefit from it. Our way of disclosing what is dyslexia is very healing to them. They have indicated to us that they’re extremely appreciative. They now have answers that they didn’t have before. We’ve had a number of them leave after their groups for the day, and then come back the next day with all kinds of questions and ideas. It helps them put the puzzle pieces back together in a better way. Some of them are happy and demonstrative of that. It comes down to what we can do for them. We’re interested in those pieces that crossover into substance use disorder, which are going to be areas of self-esteem. Many times, they will under-esteem or disdain themselves. They will develop self-hatred or lack of acceptance.
We have to work with them on these things to let them know that this is a disorder and there are things that can be done. We’re teaching them about what is ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act, how dyslexia falls into that, how potential employers are required to make reasonable accommodation, what reasonable accommodation mean, how they can insist on having an interview even though interviews may be closed if they disclosed themselves as having a diagnosis of dyslexia. We’re empowering them in ways to find their voice and go out into the world. Since there’s little information available on middle-age or older-age dyslexia, what happens when this condition has been embedded in you for all these years? All the information and research has done on childhood, on early school, how to handle it there, but there’s virtually almost nothing as later in life.
We’re writing that book ourselves. We’re discovering that we can help them reframe this by giving them suggestions on how they might think about it in a healthier fashion. We found that the response is overwhelmingly positive. In addition to that, it helps the counselors here know that you have a condition here. You have a neurological disorder. We have had enough of this, and this may not be a permanent position here, but we have assigned somebody to the position of neurodiversity coordinator. This is somebody who knows all the resources that are available, and I’m only naming one disorder. We’re looking at all the resources that are available. What can we expect to be able to help them and stay within the confines of our licensing? We’re not a mental health organization, but we know many other mental health organizations. There’s a plethora of other organizations that can give them great assistance.
One of the biggest things about what you’re talking about, just with that one diagnosis, dyslexia, is people mistakenly believe that it’s an indicator of a lower intelligence. They come to believe that they are not smart. The work you’re doing, when the people let it in, is let them realize it, and then tap in and utilize more of their actual intelligence.People recovering from trauma and addiction must know that it's safe to try new things and give up the idea of what must be right. Click To Tweet
We have a couple of evaluations that we give through screenings. One of them in particular, we use screening because it’s quick. You can get through it quickly. It’s colorful. It gives charts and graphs. It’s out of England. It goes through all the positives that come through. It will rate them on all the positive things. For example, they have to do work around all of these things that ordinary people don’t have to do. They have to figure ways out of putting sentences together.
There is a spectrum in dyslexia. You might have entire sentences reversed. You might have words reversed. Sometimes the middle letters disappear. Sometimes the middle of pages disappears. Sometimes words or letters melt off pages. You have a lot of different manifestations of the same thing. That child usually has to work hard to try to figure out what’s on that page and, “What do they want out of me? What’s supposed to happen here so I can mimic normalcy, so I won’t stick out, so I won’t be the black sheep?” They work these things out and it’s almost like they have a heightened sense of creativity. We let them know that you’ve got special powers that the rest of us don’t have, and they shine. They love hearing that because a lot of them recognize that they’ve been able to do that. They know that, but they don’t know that anyone else knows that. It’s been this dirty little secret that they’ve had. It’s exactly with what you’re talking about, Tim. They’re happy to know they’re not stupid. They feel like it’s validating. That’s one thing we’re doing.
I’ll pick another one because this is controversial. We have had some overt disapproval of what we’re doing. I didn’t want to talk long on it, but I’ve got a lot to say about it. We have noticed symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID. We’re well aware of the fact that all psychology classes teach this. It’s rare, not even 200,000 cases in the United States. Sybil ran that whole thing into the ground, and then the sequential book that came out after both off their desks from an investigative reporter that discredited that whole thing. It’s not looked at as an actual disorder. At least there are many people in the psychology industry that don’t consider it, but it is real.
The thing you’re talking about with Sybil is not the dissociative identity disorder. It’s an extreme version where there’s that multiple personality disorders. With the dissociative identity disorder, there’s this range of things from one extreme to the other. It’s common that people have the symptoms or the patterns of disassociation. That’s not what was happening in the Sybil book. A lot of people mix those two up. That’s going to be the root of a lot of your negative pushback. When you talk about dissociative identity disorder, people think you’re talking about multiple personality disorder. They’re going to have a lot of pushback. Those two things are not the same.
What I am talking about is multiple personality disorder. It used to be called that, now it’s called dissociative identity disorder. We have Dissociative Disorder, DD. We have DDNOS, Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. We have a lot of books here. We’ve been through a lot of books, Janina Fisher who was Bessel van der Kolk’s clinical director for years has a book on the subject. We have the guy who wrote the SCID-D assessment that we use. It takes about an hour. It’s a structured interview. It’s a tedious thing that we go through. We use the DES right out of the DSM-5 to do the initial screening. We’ve ended up with about 26% of our patients screening positive for DID, which is Multiple Personality Disorder. This is very strange.
It would be under 1%. It would be a fraction of the percent in normal society. It’s our hypothesis that we have these people sliding down the scale, losing jobs, losing relationships, disappearing into prisons, coming out of prisons. They’re operating at the lowest level that nobody ever surveys, nobody takes a look at. We can see that there are authentic episodes of people not remembering things they said a little while ago. We know all the symptoms. We’ve made ourselves quite knowledgeable about this. We have a trauma expert in the building. We’re in the process now of taking those 26% and seeing what percentage go to diagnosis, and the diagnosis that we’re looking for. We’re not disclosing the diagnosis to the patient. It is unhelpful. We are not going to be able to give them any assistance on that.
There isn’t no place in Chicago that we’ve found that we can refer them to. It’s frequently misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder or bipolar. All of the medications of those three disorders, those are lazy diagnoses, but they exacerbate the symptoms of DID. They make it worse. What we’re doing is we’re able to get into Dick Schwartz Level-1 training at IFS. The only thing we’re going to be able to do is do an internal marking on their record. It helps us empathetically know that whether we have a dissociative disorder or we have varieties of it that run all the way up to the full spectrum because not all of those 26% are going to be diagnosed as DID.
We don’t have the time to be able to do all of that because those are tedious diagnosis. We can’t do anything. It’s harmful to give them that diagnosis, and then show them the door because we’re not equipped to be able to give the therapeutic assistance that they need. There are some things that we can do to help them. Number one, it helps us empathetically because we know that substance use disorder is a form of dissociation. They’re either drinking to blot it out or they want to dissociate from their problems or the issues that they have, whether they’re internal, in their own heads, or whether they’re external and the circumstances that they’ve created in their own lives. It is a form of dissociation.
If we can begin introducing the language of parts, which we’ve already started a glossary of this. We’re using a lot of reference and evidence-based material for this. We’re coming up with our own languaging of this, and then we’re going to start training our staff. We don’t lose anything with that at all and it embraces. We’re talking about the general language of saying, “It sounds like a part of you says this. It sounds like it’s fighting another part of you that says that.” It’s less stigmatizing. It’s easier to make reference for this.
From the perspective of empathizing, if you don’t understand that that’s a powerful process inside the person and you’re just looking at the surface interactions, you’re most likely to label it manipulation, lying, or deception for the purpose of personal gain.
When you look at this, Gabor Maté and all of the people that have gotten into these claim that the majority of it happens usually before age six, and that it’s called splitting, and these splittings usually happen as protective mechanisms. They’re all for the benefit of the individual. All of them are trying to help that true self that’s in there. One of the differences between schizophrenia is each one of these trauma capsules, they’re simple personalities. They only do the same thing over and over. They’re not full-blown personalities. They used to be called alters. We call them parts. It’s more useful for us to be able to do. If you realize that you might be talking to one part, that’s not talking to another part. The biggest difference is they don’t share a memory between the two of them. We’re trying to blend them. We’re trying to teach them how to be observant from a dual standpoint.
This will help everybody. If we’re talking about them, we talk about learning to love yourself. What we’re talking about is to love all your parts. That will help improve us as an organization. It will have a better effect on all of this dissociative disorder however it ends up diagnosing out because I know it’s not going to end up 26%. It’s still new enough in what we’re doing that I don’t have any results to give you on that. Those are two things that we’re doing that are new.
We’re also starting a new group on racial healing. We’ve got a piece, the riots in Washington. I got a call from someone saying what would have happened if those riots were with African-Americans, with black community. It would probably have been a thousand arrested. There would have been hundreds of injuries and so forth. There were only thirteen people arrested. That was his viewpoint. I said, “Why don’t you turn that into a group and bring it in here, turn it into some material that we can present and have in our group?” He’s focusing on oppression trauma, and trauma that comes from the race, the body that you’re born into and what accompanies that.
There’s a wonderful book by a young man who’s written about the trauma that we carry in our bodies. It’s all based on racial identity. It’s My Grandmother’s Hands. Have you heard about that book?
No, it couldn’t be, but I’m going to write that down. You always give me the best advice, Tim. My Grandmother’s Hands, that sounds familiar. What I was thinking was if you want, I don’t know if you have any other questions, but maybe we can take a walk around the place.
I’d love to take a walk around the place. It’s My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem. It’s exactly what you’re talking about. Resmaa has been working with studying trauma and studying how all of us, when we go through something that we feel is too intense, we download energies from that, that we carry with us in our energy system.
I’m glad I brought it out.
Let’s take a tour. Let’s see what you like to show us here.Substance abuse disorder is a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. Click To Tweet
That’s Stephen. He is from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is at the front desk. He’s the one that meets everybody when they come in.
This is Leola.
We have a board that has all of our groups on it every day. This a little bit of a blueprint of the building. You can see, we have overcoming procrastination, which is using a form of REBT, art therapy. We have Coming of Age, which is dealing with people over 65 in addiction. We have a group on hope. We have intergenerational trauma. We have two different groups in trauma. This is for example listed in the art museum room. We’ll take a walk over to the art museum room so you can see that. This is working down a corridor that everybody walks into when they come in. Here’s one of the banners that we have up here for our racial healing class. This is Emmanuel Acho, the author of the book. We put this up in the room when we have that group. This is a typical room. This is a meeting room, and we have a big 82-inch screen in here that we use for Zoom groups and so forth. We have people in here that’s an art therapy group.
They’ve pulled the blinds here on this room so I can’t know who’s in this room here, but this is going to be rage reduction. Moving into our little kitchenette area in the back. We have breakfast and lunch here. We got a donation of a bunch of Phyter Bars. These are sold at Whole Foods, $3.99 apiece. Gloria Athanis was the owner of that. She drops those off for us. We have a little kitchenette area that we do serving back here. We go through a lot of coffee. We have a garden in the back. It’s a raised bed garden so we do a lot of our own gardening, pull our own vegetables out of it because we’re in a food desert.
We have breakfast and lunch. We don’t serve meat. We don’t serve dairy or refined sugar. We’re trying to keep it healthy. This is a presentation that we did at Lurie Hospital on horticultural therapy that is original to us. We got a grant from Northwestern University to do that. We have an area that’s like a little library and a holding area. These are people that we have lost through overdose or suicide or other health issues, but it’s only a portion. We have the Twelve Steps of AA, in the middle there. We have those same twelve steps run through a number of other filters. Next to it is rational twelve steps. We have trauma-informed twelve steps, humanist twelve steps, atheist agnostic twelve steps, and Buddhist twelve steps. It’s the same twelve steps just run through different filters.
Walking over, this is a new area that we’ve renovated that we’re going to be using for healthcare. It’s got a black light at the front. We don’t have the lights on now, but there are three examination rooms down there and we’re going to be using this for healthcare. We have some steps that we’re going to be walking up here to the second floor where we have a kitchen. Our kitchen is where we take donations, and we make breakfast and lunch. We serve about 60, 70 breakfast and lunches a day. We have this room, and there’s Paige and Stefanie. We do housing and employment up here as well. We have a kitchen over here that we cook for the people that come in. We serve all of this for free because if for them to leave, we wouldn’t see them back again. There are no restaurants or no grocery stores on the West Side where we are. This is up the stairs.
Another group here. This is the art museum room. I’m going to be quiet when we walk in here because we have a group in progress. They’re doing a meditation and I didn’t want to say anything while they were doing that. We have one little place walking back down the same hallway. This is an interesting hallway because it forces a lot of interactions. As you can see, people get along here well. This area is the other side of that art museum room that we were in, and then we have another room where we have another group. Over on the side, we have tattoo transformation. We have a lot of people that have made bad decisions as far as skin art is concerned. We help them transform that into something that’s more positive. They have to choose positive aspects of their lives and we help them with that. We ended up with a lot of conversations.
From everyone that I’ve heard anything about Above and Beyond, one of the things that’s impressive is the level of acceptance and respect that you engender with everybody who works there and the people who are getting services there. When you say, “We get along here and there’s a lot of interaction,” it’s clear why.
We treat them with respect. We listen to them. There’s a level of us when we talk to them, we will mirror them in many ways. We’ll repeat back to them what they’ve said to make sure we’re there. We’re not quick with advice. A lot of times it’s healing for them to feel heard, and to show up on somebody’s radar the way they are without always having to correct or make something better than what it is. The ideas they’re okay like they are. That’s what we do.
What year was it founded?Recovery treatments must always aim for long-term, sustainable healing. Click To Tweet
It was founded in 2016.
What a tremendous accomplishment and all various programs to come up in that short period of time.
It’s a team effort. We have a lot of people that are working here. We went through a lot of people at the beginning. We found that there were a lot of people that came from other places in the addiction industry that felt they had things all figured out. They intended to bring what they knew to us. That wasn’t what we were looking for. We’re looking for plasticity. I was talking to Bryan Cressey, he’s the Founder of all this thing so we owe all of this to his innovative mind and his initiatives. He and I spend a lot of time talking to each other. A lot of the ideas have come from our combined efforts. We were talking about not being afraid of making mistakes. Bryan made the statement that he who makes the most mistakes wins, so we adjust. If it’s wrong or it doesn’t work, we stop for a minute and think how we can make this better. If we can’t, then we’ll abandon it or put it on a shelf and bring it out later. Maybe the timing is wrong or the people that we have involved are wrong. We don’t need to discard it. We don’t need to self-flagellate.
That in itself is therapeutic because then you’re modeling for all of your participants that it’s safe for them to try new things, and it’s safe for them to give up the idea that they need to be right.
There’s no billing that ever goes to a client here, whether they have money or insurance or not, it’s all free to them. That’s quite different.
It’s not, there’s a business model behind the whole thing that explains it, but it is different. For us, what it means is that the almighty dollar doesn’t drive everything we need to do. Bryan wanted us to put something together on a continuum of care that would mimic the human psyche. What best fits to fill the gaps and that we follow through? What bridges can we build? We built the continuum first and then we’ll look it out to pay for it. That’s what we’ve done. We put this together and we found that we have to bridge many of the pieces ourselves. We have to pay for those ourselves. We’ve found other inventive ways to do that instead of basing everything on what we can bill for the individual. A lot of people fall off those tracks. They can’t stay on it.
There’s a lot of power in that when you’re not tied to how much you can get from each patient.
We do bill. There is back billing. We bill a lot of Medicaid programs and about 1/3 of our operating expenses are repaid through our billing, but nobody knows who is who. Nobody knows who’s paying, who’s not paying. We have all kinds of strata, of classes. In 2020, we’ve started attracting affluence. We have people that are affluent who come in who are fascinated with the things we’re doing. I haven’t brought it up here, but we’re still Meaning-Centered Therapy, MCT. At the core of everything we’re doing is purpose and meaning, Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy. That’s required and we’re waking everybody up to who they are, what their gifts are, how they can contribute, how they can be appreciated for those contributions, and how they can appreciate other people’s contributions. It’s at the core of everything we do. As people start to wake up to who they are, we have seven different self-help programs that are available to them. All of these are therapeutic groups.
The other thing that’s beneficial, the more we’ve been doing interviews here on the show for Journey’s Dream, and interviewing people who are integrative psychiatrists and functional medicine specialists. More and more, you’re hearing people who have observed that at the root of many of these things that people call symptoms and problems is trauma. If we can look at the root cause as they do from a systemic approach in integrative therapy or functional medicine therapy, and we’re willing to say, “This whole arena of human experience that we poo-pooed and said what’s in the past is not having any impact.” If we’re willing to look there and see how that’s feeding many of these symptoms, we’ve got a whole range of places we can do intervention and help the individual at a cause level.
We say that the substance abuse disorder is a symptom of a deeper underlying problem. We don’t just treat the symptoms. We don’t do that. It’s only temporary. It’s not sustainable. They received no relief. When they continue to go out, it makes it worse and worse. Probably if I were to look at anywhere for a sister organization that would create an esteem in me that is equal to what I do here, it would be Journey’s Dream. Journey’s Dream does some of the most unbelievable things and helps people who need help in such a unique way that I have never seen before. It has inspired a lot of the stuff that we’ve done back here because there’s the same idea, “Charge at it, try it, let’s see what works. Let’s look at the outcomes. Let’s figure out what is creating healing long-term, what’s sustainable.” You’ve got all of these things going on. Mark Hattas is an individual that I put up in the clouds, and everyone who’s involved with that organization. It’s an honor for me to be in this forum where we can mention both our names in the same sentence or in the same phrase.
I have the same feeling, the work you’re doing there, every bit of feedback I’ve gotten about that place. When I mentioned in the interview with Jam Alker that he should look into your place, he said, “I’ve got goosebumps because I’m going to be there and I love that place.” He had the same comments about one of the things that comes across clearly is the acceptance and the respect that is a foundation piece for anybody who walks into the Above and Beyond Family Center. Congratulations on what you’re doing. I look forward to our next time to get together and have an update.
Thank you, Tim. I love being here. Put me on a calendar. I’ll come back anytime.
We’ll do it. We’ll connect again within a few months.
The vision of Above and Beyond is to build an individualized treatment experience that is available to anyone in need regardless of their economic status. Their clients and clinicians create therapeutic alliances that design and execute personalized programs of recovery that co-exist side by side with personal development and growth goals. They believe that recovery is a process that requires meeting individuals right where they are, as well as addressing their environmental life circumstances such as education, employment readiness, interpersonal relationships, and social reintegrative abilities and activities.
Their philosophy is compassion, competence and communal healing. They believe you can be well. With those simple words, the founders of Above and Beyond have brought together a seasoned team of staff members from the healthcare community, with decades of personal and professional experience in the everchanging fields of substance abuse. When they say, “We believe you can be well,” they are stating their belief in everyone’s ability to experience healing, hope and health. What’s needed is for them to be properly stimulated, educated and supported. It’s the expectation of communal success that drives them to provide their solid foundation of excellence in prevention and intervention to the most fragile and vulnerable people of Chicagoland.
- Dan Hostetler
- Above and Beyond Family Center
- My Grandmother’s Hands
- Jam Alker – Previous episode
About Dan Hostetler
As the Executive Director, Daniel Hostetler brings more than 30 years of experience in corporate consultancy and non-profit management. His background includes serving as president and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern European Division (SED) of an International Consultancy for ten years, managing more than 300 consultants.
He co-founded Strategic Business Partners, which reached national prominence by winning one of the highest awards in the consulting industry. Before joining Above and Beyond, he was the Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and previous to that as Director of Operations and Finance with World Relief DuPage-Aurora, an international Christian nonprofit supporting refugees and immigration issues.
Dan is considered to be at his best as a CEO/Managing Director when he is working with the Business Task owner, the Engagement Team, and a business owner to define the Business Task and its underlying processes while bringing the resources and appropriate toolsets into alignment so as to define, position, propose and execute any given project.
Dan knows how to create harmony and teamwork out of chaos. Having spent 7 years as an owner of Strategic Business Partners, an award-winning national consultancy to small business, he is/was an entrepreneur himself which helps him to bring a solid background of real-life experience to any client relationship.
Dan holds the Logotherapy Diplomate Credential which he earned in 2019. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Ohio Christian University in Circleton, Ohio, and a Masters in Nonprofit Management from North Park University in Chicago. He also has his CADC for Substance Abuse Counseling and Certificates in Heartmath and Nutritional Psychology.
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