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Inspire and Empower Change Podcast: Interview with James Bundrick & James Abrams

June 19, 2019

Danny and Jess interview John Bundrick & James Abrams about how they work with therapeutically with families and an upcoming workshop for professionals called “Families & Fantasies: Working with the Systemic Unreal in Addiction Recovery”

Dan Colella: Hello. Welcome, everybody. Welcome to the Sandstone Care Inspire and Empower Change live broadcast series. Today, Jess and I are happy to welcome a few guests with us today. We have John and James, who we’re going to talk about in a second, and we’re going to go into their practice, what they do. Stick around, because anybody who might be coming to the training this Friday here at Sandstone Care, which these two are going to be putting on, we’re going to give you a little idea of what that training’s about, what they’re going to be talking about, and give you sort of a sneak peek at what that’s about. So guys, thanks for joining us today. We really appreciate you taking some time out of your day.

John Bundrick: Thanks for having us. Yeah, absolutely.

James Abrams: Of course, yeah. Thanks for inviting us.

Dan Colella: Love it. So let’s get right in and talk about what these guys do and how they uniquely serve their population. So John, why don’t you just introduce everybody to who you are, who you treat, what your practice is, and where you’re at.

John Bundrick: All right. I’m John Bundrick. I have a practice out in the West Littleton area called Bienville Counseling. I’m a licensed professional counselor. I’m in the process of getting my licensed addiction counselor. I’m also an international certified gambling counselor level two, so that’s sort of my specialty, but I had the great pleasure of working here at Sandstone Care for a year and a half. I worked with the young adult population, 18 to 30, and loved working with that population, so I’m also looking to work with that particular group of clients in my private practice.

Dan Colella: I love that, man. When we were talking a little earlier, we wanted to really kind of nail down something we were going to talk about with gambling, and the screening process for gambling. You’re really passionate about that. Oftentimes, there are things that people might miss or not really pay attention to when it comes to the screening of gambling, so why don’t you share with everybody, any clinicians that are watching, or any treatment centers, kind of that other side of the screening when it comes to gambling.

John Bundrick: Absolutely. I worked in a residential facility in Louisiana for gambling primary. That’s where I really kind of learned what was going on and just became very passionate about gambling. So when I moved up to Colorado, I realized that one of the things that I could provide in this community is the skills around treatment of gambling. One thing that’s really important for mental health clinicians as well as substance abuse counselors and programs, is the ability to screen. So many of the clients with substance use issues also could have gambling issues, and they go undetected because gambling is what is called the silent addiction. It usually doesn’t emerge until there’s a major crisis. I’m getting out, I’m talking to as many providers as I can. I’m going to facilities, and I’m just trying to help them learn some basic screening skills, and provide them with some resources.

Dan Colella: Love that, man. Awesome.

John Bundrick: Thanks.

Dan Colella: Jess, why don’t you introduce our other guest.

Jess Barry: Yeah. James, so happy you’re here. Thanks, John.

John Bundrick: Thanks.

Jess Barry: James, tell us a little bit about your practice.

James Abrams: Well, yeah, so actually my practice overlaps with John’s pretty well. I do a lot of work with addiction, substance abuse, compulsive behavior, that kind of thing. With tweens and teens, but also 20-somethings. I hit that same kind of 12 to, I mean I like to say like 28, but that mindset kind of, my experience has been that it extends to about 65 for some people. Yeah, just working with people who are trying to figure it out and round that corner and just get their life back, you know, lost folks who want to take control again.

Jess Barry: You’re also a licensed addiction counselor.

James Abrams: Yeah, so I’m LPC, LAC. I do a lot of work with mindfulness interventions. I do a lot of interventions that are informed by existential therapy, which on account of being absurdly over-educated I figured I should get some kind of value out of that, so yeah.

Jess Barry: Awesome. You have a very unique approach to group work.

James Abrams: I do.

Jess Barry: Tell us a little bit about your groups.

James Abrams: Yeah, so I’m a big believer in group therapy. I think it really works. To that end, I’ve been a member of the board of the Four Corners Group Psychotherapy Society, that’s a little plug, for the past two or three years. I’ve started doing groups for young teens. This is like 11 to 14, 15 maybe, sometimes a little older if circumstances work out, but usually that sort of tween age group where we play D&D together on-

Jess Barry: For those that don’t know what D&D is.

James Abrams: Dungeons and Dragons.

Jess Barry: Yes, excellent.

James Abrams: I’ve been a lifelong turbo nerd, and I just thought, again, maybe this could work. It’s really good for that age group because my experience with them is they get missed a lot. They don’t have their voices yet, but you can’t, they don’t want to engage through play therapy. If you try and do sand tray with an 11-year-old, I mean you’re just going to look like an idiot. It’s not going to work. They don’t really want to, they resent talk therapy sometimes, and so I try and meet them in the middle and do a game about talking. Some of the stuff that comes out is wild, and my experience has been it’s surprisingly effective, way more than I ever thought it would be, so yeah, it’s been really great.

Jess Barry: That’s awesome. Well, I know we’ve referred several clients your way, and they have given us a lot of great feedback on that group in particular.

James Abrams: Cool.

Jess Barry: You guys have a training coming up on Friday here at Sandstone, 9:00 a.m.

Dan Colella: A sold-out training, right?

Jess Barry: A sold-out training, yes. It’s going to be a full house here. The training is titled Fantasies and Families, Working with the Systemic, Unreal, and Addiction Recovery. Did I get it?

James Abrams: Good job.

John Bundrick: Boom.

Dan Colella: That was a mouthful.

Jess Barry: [crosstalk 00:06:25]. That is a mouthful.

Dan Colella: That’s a mouthful, and you nailed it. Way to go.

Jess Barry: Thank you. Yeah, share with us a little bit about what that training’s going to entail.

John Bundrick: I’ll start. Yeah, it’s a talk that really generated out of, James and I would go get coffee, and we would just sort of riff on, “Hey, what are you seeing? What are you seeing?” A lot of times we were really puzzled, and it usually had to deal with the family systems, particularly when I was working at Sandstone, and even when I was working in residential. We looked at what’s their belief system as they’re coming in? There’s the client belief system. There’s each member of the family. There’s the family system.

James Abrams: There’s the therapist belief system.

John Bundrick: Yeah, and that’s what we really started looking at, was how do we see the family and their fantasy thinking? Where does it come from, and then maybe how are we distancing ourselves and what you referred to as othering them. Which I love.

James Abrams: Yeah.

John Bundrick: Maybe you can …

James Abrams: Yeah, god I’m trying to search the memory banks for this othering conversation.

Dan Colella: Those are the best kinds right? [crosstalk 00:07:47] They happen in the moment.

John Bundrick: How about that handoff.

James Abrams: Yeah, I mean I think the experience that we kept having was we would work with these families, and we’re both people who really believe, for addiction work in particular working with the whole family system is absolutely necessary. We kept running into these problems where it’s like, you think you have buy-in from the parents. You know, you’re like “Okay, well we all want this client to improve and have a life and not get themselves in further trouble,” and then you’d sort of see it’s like “Wait a second, hold on, these parents might not be as committed to that in their minds as they say up front.” Or as they even realize. We started exploring what is the family system fantasy that’s going on here? You know? How do we actually engage with that thing? It’s been pretty cool work. I mean, this presentation has us going all over the place.

John Bundrick: Yeah.

James Abrams: We’re talking about, of course, fantasy work, but we’re talking about existential psychotherapy, family systems motivational interviewing, improv.

John Bundrick: Yeah.

Jess Barry: Millennials?

James Abrams: Millennials.

Jess Barry: Yeah.

John Bundrick: Yeah, it started as a millennial talk, and then we realized that we needed to look at the bigger picture. From a sociological standpoint what’s going on for the entire family as these kids are growing up and what’s going on systemically as well, but more importantly what’s the pressure on this system? So that by that time they get into treatment, they have these expectations, and how do we join with them? This thing started, and it’s just become question after question. I don’t know, we just loved doing the research, and it turned into research I had never heard of.

James Abrams: Yeah.

John Bundrick: So we’re thrilled that hopefully some people will get some information that they may not have seen before, and-

Jess Barry: Wonderful.

John Bundrick: Yeah.

James Abrams: Yeah.

Jess Barry: Well, we’re thrilled to have you. Very, very excited. Did you have anything else you wanted to add about the training?

James Abrams: Just, if you’re coming be prepared, it might be more fun than you expect it.

Jess Barry: Yeah.

Dan Colella: That’s something to look forward to.

Jess Barry: Fun guys.

John Bundrick: Yeah, we want to play.

James Abrams: Yeah.

Jess Barry: Yeah, awesome. Well we’re really, really excited. This Friday at Sandstone Care Denver. Networking and registration’s from 8:30 to 9, and the presentation’s from 9 to 12?

John Bundrick: 12.

Jess Barry: 12, so three continuing education credits for those who are in need of those. How can we find out more about how the viewers get ahold of you guys for either group or individual work?

James Abrams: Well for me, the best way would be through my website; JamesColeAbrams.com. Yeah, got all my contact info up there.

Jess Barry: Awesome.

Dan Colella: We’ll have you after the broadcast just comment below with that.

James Abrams: Okay.

Dan Colella: So it’s in there so people can visit that.

James Abrams: Cool.

Dan Colella: How about you John?

John Bundrick: You can look at BienvilleCounseling.com. Or you can go to Psychology Today, that might be another route to get there. So you get the phone number and the email address as well as the website.

Jess Barry: Awesome. Well thank you both so much for joining us today.

John Bundrick: Thanks for having us.

James Abrams: Yeah.

Jess Barry: We are so excited for Friday, and thank you to all of our viewers for tuning in today for Sandstone Cares Inspire and Empower Change podcast.

Dan Colella: Thank you guys. Enjoy the rest of your day, and thanks for stopping by.


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