Pairing Artificial Intelligence and Compassion

Recovery Unscripted banner image for episode 86

Episode #86 | January 30, 2019

Featured Guest: Lisa Henderson

As artificial intelligence transforms healthcare, how can we ensure it adds efficiency without hindering the compassion that fuels real healing?

We’ll discuss this with behavioral health innovator and co-founder of Synchronous Health Lisa Henderson on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

Podcast Transcript

Interviewer: I’m here with Lisa Henderson. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Lisa Henderson: Thanks for inviting me.

Interviewer: Of course. Let’s start by having you tell us a bit about your own personal journey and how you got into the world of behavioral health to begin with.

Lisa: This did not seem relevant to me until recently, but I am the child of both a psychologist and recovering alcoholic. Growing up, a lot of things in psychology and counseling just made a lot of sense. I really gravitated towards my psychology classes in undergrad, but I was determined not to be in school for eight years. I ended up going a different route and got a Master’s in Health Education and became a health coach. My first job was working with a police department and doing health coaching, wellness coaching.

Interviewer: For the staff there?

Lisa: Yes, with the officers. It was so much fun. I bartered with them and traded them. If they would do yoga with me for stress management, I would go to the shooting range with them for self protection.

Interviewer: [laughs] I thought you maybe bartered like you can give me some cards to get out of a speeding tickets.

Lisa: [chuckles] No. I did get a cheesecake once, though.

Interviewer: There you go.

Lisa: We did a lot of bartering. Nothing to ever get me out of trouble. I think I got a couple of drive-bys just to check on me. If they knew that I was young, in my 20s, female, living with another female who worked nights. Just really protective, sweet guys.

Interviewer: Was that in Nashville?

Lisa: That was in Murfreesboro. I realized pretty quickly that I kept bumping up against anxiety, depression, worry about their kids, worry about their wives.

Interviewer: In the police force?

Lisa: Yes. A lot of insomnia, a lot of trauma. I knew enough to know that as a health coach, I really couldn’t address those things. I went back to school and got my Master’s in Counseling and became a licensed counselor thereafter.

Interviewer: Cool. What was your first foray into that once you had that degree?

Lisa: The first job I got after that degree was in child welfare community mental health. I was working in people’s homes, going into the projects here in Nashville and trying to do family preservation and reunification. I saw a lot of active addiction. I saw a lot of active mental health disorders. My job was to try and strengthen the family unit so that the kids didn’t have to be removed, didn’t have to go into state custody, didn’t have to go into residential treatment programs. Diversion was a big part of that work.

There was a little bit of– We treated some addiction, we treated some mental health, but we really were generalists. I didn’t get to specialize in anything. It was soon, a few years after having that experience, I was still working for that company, but I just wanted more diversity and more depth of knowledge. I started Googling experiential treatment here in Nashville and ended up finding Kati Lohr who’s now my partner and co-founder of Synchronous.

Interviewer: What was the treatment? What was she doing?

Lisa: She was doing adventure therapy. She was in private practice specializing in adolescents and families living with addiction, treating addiction and getting that depth of knowledge both of experiential and addiction specific. Also having that comfort level with teens, adolescents and their families. From the experience that I had, it was a really good next step for me.

Interviewer: Nice. You mentioned a little before we were recording, you have some leadership experience with the Tennessee Counselors Association, is that the name?

Lisa: Yes, that’s it.

Interviewer: How did that come about?

Lisa: As often happens with leadership and professional associations, I had a mentor. My licensure supervisor showed up to our meeting one day and he had the application. He was like, “You’re doing this. You need to be active, you need to be doing this. There’s work to be done and your profession needs you.” I was just like, “Oh, gosh”

Interviewer: That was as the president or what was that as? [chuckles]

Lisa: No. That was as just an emerging leader. He got me involved at a committee level. I think I did that for two or three years. Then, other people in the association had the same talk with me, but that was when it was like, “You really need to be in leadership. We really need you to head this committee. We need you to get in line for president.” It’s a three-year commitment– Actually, it’s a four-year commitment, because you’re elect, elect, and elect, then president, and then past president. I’m past president as of July 1st this year.

Interviewer: Wow. Then, soon to be podcast producer. [chuckles] Cool.

Lisa: That’s right. That’s our next adventure.

Interviewer: We’ll get into the details of Synchronous a little bit later. Could you give us a brief overview of how that came about, like why did you decide to start this company?

Lisa: Yes. It’s such a fun story to tell because I get to relive it as I’m telling it. Few years after I started working with Kati in private practice, we decided to open a treatment center together. It was called Comprehensive Health Centers. We specialized in binge eating disorder, addictions and trauma. There was relationships involved in all of that. Those were the areas that we focused on most heavily.

We were providing IOP services. We had clients with us for up to nine hours a week. They would come in and they would say, “When I’m here with you, it makes sense, I learn new skills, I feel prepared, I feel ready, I’m excited. Then I go out into the world, I’m living my life. When I need those skills, it all just goes away.” We know that when people get into fight, flight or freeze, they stop thinking, and all the skills that we give them, they have to think through, plan to use them and practice them. We were thinking, how is it that we can be with them when they need us and not just with them when they’re with us in session. We put our heads together and we decided to build an app.

It was just a quick and dirty minimum viable product. We were able to put the treatment plan on the app essentially. Every day, our clients would wake up, they would check their app, they would have four activities to do that would move them towards the goals that they had. They loved it. They got trophies and they competed with themselves, all that sort of thing that really gets people engaged in active behavior change. What they didn’t have was– It was kind of clunky. It was an MVP. We didn’t have all the bells and whistles.

Interviewer: What does that mean?

Lisa: Minimum viable product.

It was just the bare-bones basics just to proof out the concept. When we got those really good results, except for, it’s clunky and it’s bold, “I forgot to login until 10:00 pm and then I didn’t have time to do my exercise.”

Interviewer: If it’s easy to use, people won’t be using it as much.

Lisa: Exactly. Being two clinicians, we were like, “Well, if we’re going to make this stickier, then we’re going to need to find someone who really knows technology.” We started talking to a bunch of people. It turns out, simultaneously to our journey, Guy Barnard, who’s our third co-founder, he had been working in a population health company called Healthways. It’s a big public company, he was the Chief Information Officer there.

In his career, he’s built dozens of apps and they’re all based around behavior change, well-being and wellness, but not all the way up to the point of behavioral health. He kept bumping up against– “I keep bumping up against behavioral health and we don’t have behavioral health as part of our team.” He had to keep backing away from that. He was ready to leave Healthways, he heard about what we were doing, we were looking for someone with his skill set and it was just a perfect synchronous coming together of two skill sets, and Synchronous was born.

Interviewer: Nice. Cool. We’ll dive into that a little bit more later and the work that you’re doing with that. Real quick, just here at the conference, you gave a presentation or are giving a presentation?

Lisa: Yes. Tomorrow morning.

Interviewer: Okay. You’re giving a presentation that takes a look at some of these ideas, of behavioral health in the digital age. Could you start by introducing an overview of the landscape related to how technology is influencing behavioral healthcare?

Lisa: Yes. I think probably the first thing to think about is that when it comes to technology, it becomes available in the tech world, and then, healthcare is slow to adapt, and behavioral health is slow relative to healthcare. As a total healthcare industry, behavioral health is behind. That actually gives us a little bit of leverage because we can learn from what other people are doing and see the implications of it.

We’ve been able to learn a lot from watching how other healthcare companies are responding to tech in their industry. That’s been really helpful for us. Some of the things that we’re seeing that are requiring technology to be brought into healthcare are just things like, if every single person got care who qualified for it, we wouldn’t be able to serve them. We just don’t have the capacity of providers. Some providers are shrinking. We have fewer psychiatrists today than we’ve had and not as many are entering the field. We have to expand their capacity through technology.

Interviewer: Interesting. That’s a cool way to think about it. The ideal is that everyone who needs help would get help, but we can’t even do that on a tangible level.

Lisa: No. Tennessee operates at about 38% capacity. We can really only serve about a third of the number of people who actually need services. We wouldn’t come close to being able to help people. People would be asking for help and we’d be telling them they have to wait nine months.

Interviewer: That’s why they already have to wait most of the time now.

Lisa: Exactly. No beds available. We’re doing some work with a hospital in Alabama. They have somebody come in with an acute issue and they need inpatient. People are waiting in the emergency room for up to seven days because there are no beds available. Then you think about addictions treatment and people having to wait for six weeks to get into somebody. It’s not only cool stuff that we’re going to get to do that’s going to make our jobs a little bit easier, it is necessary stuff in order to really be able to have the impact that we all want to have.

Interviewer: I saw that another of the factors in this discussion that you’re going to be discussing is that companies still need to make sure they have the personal relationship that is at the core of everything no matter what technology you’re using. How can they differentiate between the parts of their work that could be improved with technology, whether it’s access to processes and the parts where they really still need that personal touch or technology would get in the way?

Lisa: We have a technology philosophy. It’s basically that we build technology that gets out of the way so that humans can take care of humans. Because we take care of each other. It’s innate, it’s what we do. Being able to reduce the amount of time that you spend verifying benefits, or billing, or documenting. All the stuff that we do that is not directly related to the time that you spend with the patient, or the client, or the resident, that’s the stuff that technology is there to support.

For us, we look at it in terms of, is this going to extend what a human does or is it going to impede what a human does? That’s where we are in the technology journey as an industry, healthcare overall. EHRs are a great example. They were designed to make things more efficient, but they actually slow things down. When you have to do 17 clicks to enter one factor in EHR.

Interviewer: That’s for Electronic Health Records.

Lisa: Yes. Thank you.

Interviewer: Just making sure. You’re absolutely right. It can be great to have that technology, but then, if it creates more work and slows down the process, then that’s not really helping anyone.

Lisa: What we try to focus on is what does the clinician need or the provider need in order to serve at their highest level of capacity. Also, second to that, maybe equal to that, is what helps them retain their compassion, their empathy and their human touch, because that’s the piece that makes the biggest difference. When you look at the research of how to predict if somebody’s going to get better, it’s not based on where the clinician was trained, where somebody goes to get care, what methodology they use to provide care. What really matters is the relationship that the provider has with the person receiving care. That’s the number one predictor. We scaffold our technology around that human relationship. If it gets in the way of it, then it’s in the way and it’s not useful. We’re very picky about that.

Interviewer: Coming back to Synchronous now. You gave us a little overview, but we didn’t really talk about what you do.

Lisa: Right.

Interviewer: Could you describe the model behind it?

Lisa: Yes. Essentially, what we do is– We do three things. The middle of that is telehealth. We provide services to people through video, through secure messaging, and then also through chat interactions with our bot. Our bot is named Carla. On the front end, before that session happens, Carla is a bot, she lives on a person’s phone, their connected devices, anything that they give permission for her to see, which can be nothing. They can be silent with Carla and not tell her anything, but if you have specific goals, she’ll ask for permissions to see things.

Interviewer: What are some examples of that?

Lisa: GPS location. If you’ve got hot spots of this was my watering hole and I don’t want to go there anymore, you can set that as a hot spot that she needs to know where you are in order to know if you’re there. We have her programmed so that we don’t necessarily know where you are all the time, but we get alerted if you’re approaching the hot spot.

Interviewer: It’ll come up with a message?

Lisa: Yes. Just to play this example through, Carla can see if you’re in the hot spot zone, and then she can reach out and say, “Now’s a really good time to call your sponsor”, or, “Why don’t you go across the street to the gym instead?” She will, in the point of decision, give you alternatives and guide you into those alternatives through either recommendations, or like if you google a restaurant, it’ll have the option for you to press one button and make the call. We can use the same technology. She can say, “Do you want to call your sponsor?” It’s one button and the call gets made.

Interviewer: Wow.

Lisa: You still are in control, you still say yes or no. You might be having one of those days where it’s like, “Screw it, nope.” Carla will send that information to your human specialist. Then, in your session, the specialist can say, “What happened on Tuesday?” Where the efficiency here comes in is that, as a clinician, I used to start every session with, “How has your week been?” Or, “How have you been since I last saw you. What’s been going on?”

We spend 15-20 minutes going through, “Well, this happened on Monday and this happened on Tuesday. I don’t really remember why.” Just all the things that we humans filter out. Carla’s going to be able to tell me that, on Tuesday, this intervention triggered three times. I can go ahead and I can start the conversation with, “Looks like Tuesday was a pretty tough day. You want to tell me about that?” It just gets into the meat of what you’re here for.

Interviewer: That’s like what you’re saying earlier, it’s like speeding right to the personal relationship.

Lisa: Right, and without losing the narrative. It’s really important for you to be able to tell me what Tuesday was like for you, but if that was Tuesday, and today is Friday, and today’s been a good day, you might forget about what happened on Tuesday. If I don’t have anything to prompt you with, it’s Friday, everything’s fine. Now I can say, “Well, according to Carla, Tuesday was rough. What was going on?” Really being able to instead of glossing over, because everything’s fine now, it really helps us just drill down into those sticky residual issues that we can get into quickly.

Interviewer: Could you describe the patient journey? How does a patient get started? Because this is like a first step into this world for them. How are they connected with Carla and with Synchronous?

Lisa: Typically, what happens, we have a population health model where we might be working with an entire employer or an entire health plan. We’ll get information about their population, their members, their employees. We’ll do some outreach with them. Carla will introduce herself and make very, very clear that she is a bot, not a human and that her role is to support humans. We reinforce that over and over again because we don’t want people getting attached to something that isn’t human. We will introduce them to Carla, she will invite them to download the platform onto their phones. She’ll go through a series of questions of what of these things do you want help with, what of these permissions do you want to give me, here are some options for clinicians, who would you like to work with. You can select none.

You might just want the bot. Because we offer some self-guided digital therapies as well. We have a mindfulness library, we have some other skills that people can use. If they do decide that they want a clinician, then we match them up with a clinician and then start the telehealth experience.

Interviewer: How does Carla gather the information? How does that work take to get the right match?

Lisa: We screen all of our clinicians. Actually, Carla screens them for personality type, skills, competencies and empathy. We are proponents of matching not only personality and skill, but also empathy. Not just empathy level, but the way that you display empathy. For some people, you don’t feel empathy from someone until they’re helping you solve a problem. For others, that doesn’t feel empathetic at all. “I just want you to listen.” Being able to understand the nuances of human interactions and then match them up accordingly really helps to get the right provider matched with the right recipient.

Interviewer: Just to back up a little bit on Carla, how did you guys develop this? Where do you even start with something like this?

Lisa: From scratch. We have about 20 patents on Carla and our processes around Carla. She really came from our technology team led by Guy. They just sat with Kati and myself and listened to us talk about how we work with clients and ways that we want to engage with them. As a team, we scoured the research and looked at what are the things that can be automated and where does technology fit into the health care system, what do we think, what do we know, what do we hope, and just made design choices around that, and really put the participant experience at the center of it.

Just as an example, when we were naming Carla, we did a lot of research on what is Apple doing, how did they pick Siri? How did Amazon pick Alexa? All of the different bots that are out there, we’ve got data to tell us, guide us how they came to the decisions that they came to. We knew that two to three syllables is best, a hard consonant is best, and a female persona is best. Then we played around with should she have a face or not, does it need to pass the Turing test or should we stay away from that? The Turing test–

Interviewer: Remind me what that is.

Lisa: That’s just can it interact with people and people not know that it’s a piece of software and not a person. We took the approach of we don’t actually want it to pass the Turing test. We want people to know that this is software, this is not a person.

Interviewer: You want to leave some of that in there so that it doesn’t become confusing.

Lisa: Right. That comes for two reasons. One of those is that we wanted to avoid what’s called uncanny valley where it’s too much like a human to really not be sure, like, “I’m not sure if this is human or not. It’s off-putting and I don’t trust it because something feels off.” That’s where a lot of technology is right now. We wanted to avoid that altogether so we’re just super upfront about, “Carla is not a person. She is your person’s assistant and your assistant to your person.”

Interviewer: Cool. That’s pretty amazing. I imagine that another barrier that Carla helps with and this program helps with access, because like you said, even in Tennessee, where even if everyone had the right insurance and the right connections, they still couldn’t be reached. Could you talk a little bit about how Carla and this program is helping access and helping maybe reach rural areas or areas that wouldn’t otherwise have it?

Lisa: In a couple of different ways. One of those is just through convenience. Not convenience as a luxury, but convenience as a necessity. If you think about the time that it takes to go to an outpatient appointment. Let’s say it’s an hour-long appointment, give or take. If you’re working, you have to stop what you’re doing, wrap up your project, drive over there, wait in the waiting room, have the appointment, and then afterwards drive back and get back on task.

It really takes a one-hour appointment into a two, sometimes, three-hour process. We’re really shortening that to just the one hour, because you can log on one minute before and you’re done right on time, and you don’t have to have the drive time and the re-engaging in work activities is much easier.

Interviewer: For that hour, that’s not dealing with Carla, that’s dealing with a real clinician, right?

Lisa: Right. That’s with their clinician. Then the other thing about that is that we can actually take that hour and shrink it if we need to, depending on what we’re doing. If we’re doing trauma resolution, getting really deep into processing, we’re not going to shrink that hour.

If we are doing CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and it’s really about skills development, coaching, practice and holding the client accountable to using new skills and new thought processes, then we can do that. Either Carla can help coach some of that, or we’re able to do that– The research shows that 30 minutes is just as effective as one hour for that particular type of therapy. It’s also the most commonly used type of therapy.

Where that 30 minutes becomes necessary for an hour is when we need to get into, “When did you need to use this this week?” Then you have to go back into recalling that. With Carla being able to tell me when you needed to use that, and we can say, “All right, let’s talk about Tuesday.” It just expedites the process. We get to the action part faster than we can If I’m relying on your recall.

Interviewer: I’m trying to imagine. If I was thinking, “I need to see a mental health provider”, I wouldn’t know where to start. That would be another barrier, but Carla helps with that, right?

Lisa: Absolutely. When I think about this in the broader population, and we’re not talking about people who are actively looking for care, we’re talking more about the– Let’s just say, the commercially insured population, the working well. Maybe some of them are anxious but they don’t know it, or they’re tired all the time. Maybe that’s undiagnosed depression.

Interviewer: Or they think that’s normal, that’s how I’ve been for a very long time.

Lisa: They think that’s normal. “Life is stressful. People drink a lot when they’re stressed. My drinking is normal.” All these things that they convince themselves of, but also want more out of life than what they’re currently getting. In reaching those folks, we have some outreach campaigns. We might launch them with the employer in conjunction with open enrollment, or with a health fair, or we might just pick a topic each month and do outreach around that.

We have a couple of relationships with universities. Each of these universities has things going on on campus. We’ll embed ourselves in those activities on campus and different awarenesses. Awareness campaigns, health fairs, job fairs, all kinds of other things that we just integrate into the community. Then, when they think, “Okay, something’s not quite right. I want something to be different in my life.” They know where to go.

Interviewer: Especially now as we use our phones more and more, it just seems like that’s such an easy thing. It’s like, “Oh, it’s not a big risk. I’m not really putting myself out there. I’ll just try this.” It just seems like such a small step, which is great because it’s making it easier for people to take it.

Lisa: In doing a lot of research, market research, student focus groups and things like that especially on university campuses, I was surprised that the number one barrier for these students to get help was, “I’m not walking through a door that says ‘Counseling Center’ on it.” I was thinking, I thought for this generation that that stigma had largely been removed. It has been for other people. “I am okay with other people needing help, but I’m not quite okay admitting that I need help.”

Interviewer: Interesting.

Lisa: It’s a real interesting– We’re definitely seeing a transition in a positive direction, but we’re still dealing with– People still want that privacy.

Interviewer: It’s still hard to admit, “I have a problem.”

Lisa: Right.

Interviewer: Absolutely. Looking in the future, where do you see this going? With Carla, Synchronous, and maybe this technology, AI in general, if you want to go that big? Who are some other populations or types of situations that you see Synchronous being able to help in the future?

Lisa: We’re talking about a lot of different markets right now. We’re actively working in a hospital system. I’ve mentioned universities, I have mentioned employers. We’re also supplementing, augmenting, providing aftercare support with some residential treatment centers. There’s a lot.

Interviewer: That’s true. Aftercare seems like it would be a good thing for this, too.

Lisa: Yes. It really helps people stay connected. Because Carla is fairly agnostic in who her loyalties are to. If she’s got Joe and Jake, and Joe came from recovery treatment center A, we can send him content that is in line with that treatment center. Jake went to recovery treatment center B, we can support what Jake learned.

Interviewer: What Carla is saying can be tuned in that way, is that what you’re saying?

Lisa: Yes, exactly. She’s able to deliver the message that is congruent with the treatment that they received. Which I think is a huge benefit. Because when I’ve referred people to treatment and then they come back, a lot of times, they have just ever so slightly different vocabulary. I’m talking to them about things that just don’t feel– They don’t resonate as well, because they learned different language or a different way of thinking about things. We’re able, with Carla, to use the voice of the treatment center that they came from.

Interviewer: How do you do that on a practical level? I’m just curious.

Lisa: It’s part of our patents, actually. We use a drag and drop technology. Let’s say, everybody who went to Foundations is in one group. For all of the Foundations– Foundations is not a client of ours, by the way.

Interviewer: Just as an example.

Lisa: An example. Everyone who’s in that Foundations group, they get this sort of vernacular.

Interviewer: You would get that vernacular from Foundations?

Lisa: From Foundations. We were working with a health insurance company. It’s an island community. We were using an example of exercise being one of the five evidence-based treatment protocols for depression. We were looking at how we would send that message. If somebody is at home when they’re normally at work and their phone has been still for 90 minutes, most likely they’re asleep on the couch and it’s the middle of the day. That would be depressive symptomology.

Carla can reach out to them when those conditions are present, and say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a walk? Here’s a route right outside your door and here’s a walking meditation for you.” We’ll know, did they click on the walking meditation, did they take the walk, did they stay on the route. We’ll know all those things.

This CEO of the health plan was like, “We would never say go for a walk. We just don’t talk that way. We would say go to the ocean.” I was like, “Oh, great.” I just pulled up the platform and re-typed, “Go to the ocean, and here’s your route to the ocean.” It’s really easy. Essentially, the technology that we use for that, it was developed by MIT to teach kindergarteners how to code. Google took it and adapted it, then we took what Google had done and re-adapted it for the healthcare industry and then put all of our patents around that. We essentially say it is simple enough for a technology kindergartener to use. We’re proof of that because we’ve got several clinicians doing it everyday.

Interviewer: That’s cool to be able to customize it to where it’s as if somebody who knows them, is part of their community, is really talking with them.

Lisa: Absolutely. That goes on two different levels. One, is the community of the treatment center that they came from, or the employer group that they’re part of, whatever that community is, but it’s also the community that the individual has with their specific provider. I can talk to my clients in the way that I speak to them through Carla. If I am talking to one of my surly adolescents, I can say something along the lines of, “Don’t kid me.” Because my adolescents love to try to pull one over on me and that’s my line with them. “Don’t kid me.” They know that that’s me coming through Carla. I can even type it in quotation marks so it’s very clear that Carla is speaking as I would.

Interviewer: Cool. Very interesting stuff. What would be one or two key ideas that people working in this field, that you’d want them to take away from your talk and just from this whole discussion, and maybe bring with them next time they’re in their office meeting a patient? What would be some key ideas about using technology in a positive way?

Lisa: I think the first thing is don’t be afraid of it. It’s important that we are involved in the technology that’s coming into the field. It’s coming into the field, period. It is marching quickly into the field. If we as the industry experts aren’t part of it, then it’s going to not be done well. It’s going to be off the mark. I think it’s critically important that some of the people who are in this field are involved in technology development in one way or another. I know lots of people are. I know lots of organizations are either shopping for technology or are creating some of their own technology. I think that’s relatively new. I’ve been really happy to see that over the past year or so. That’s the first thing I’d say.

The second thing I’d say is if you don’t want to have anything to do with that side of the house, if you don’t want to get involved in technology development, that’s perfectly okay, but still, interact with it, play with it, know what you’re recommending before you recommend it. Because there’s so many great apps out there. I’ve heard a lot of clinicians recommend things to patients, clients and residents, and then they come back and they’re like, “This is the opposite of what you say” It’s like, “Oh, well, I didn’t actually try it myself. I just heard about it.”

Interviewer: It’s almost like you’re referring them to another doctor. As far as the patient’s concerned, that’s like the same thing.

Lisa: In some cases, as far as the FDA is concerned. Because some of these apps are now going through FDA clearance and can be prescribed as, not a pharmaceutical, but as a medical.

Interviewer: As a tool.

Lisa: You really need to take that seriously, know what you’re recommending before you recommend it, and make sure that it is aligned with your style of treatment.

Interviewer: Wow. We’ll wrap up with this final question. Everyone who serves in this field at further the course of recovery has their own personal reasons for wanting to do this work everyday. To close, could you sum up why this mission is so important to you?

Lisa: Yes. I think it comes really naturally from seeing what recovery has done in my dad’s life, in my mom’s life and my family unit life as a result of that. My family of origin, I think my dad got sober when I was around five or six, so most of my life has been in recovery as a family unit. It just gives me so much hope. I’m so thankful that I got to see the recovery side of things. I’m exceptionally blessed that I was too young to remember much of the times before that. Being able to see what recovery does for people and how it just strengthens families, I think that’s–

Interviewer: To be able to have that relationship with that version of your dad.

Lisa: Right. I get to hear all the war stories and never had to actually experience it at a level that I was cognizant of. It’s been really neat. I just want to be a part of offering that to anybody who needs it.

Interviewer: Awesome. All right. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for your time and for sharing that with us.

Lisa: Thank you.

Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

Episode #105 | January 8, 2020

In a culture that often encourages a toxic version of masculinity, how can treatment providers help men unlearn harmful stereotypes and uncover their own trauma?

We’ll answer this with SCRC clinical director Hedieh Azadmehr on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

Cultivating an Environment of Innate Listening

Episode #104 | October 2, 2019

As the healthcare industry evolves, how can treatment professionals turn off the noise and really listen – to emerging trends, to their patients and to themselves?

We’ll dive into this with speaker, coach and founder of human connection company BluNovus James Hadlock on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

The Realities of Self-Harm and Suicide

Episode #103 | August 15, 2019

What can behavioral health providers do to better understand the realities of self-harm and to know how to respond when they spot the signs in their patients?

We’ll discuss this with non-suicide self-injury specialist, author and counselor Lori Vann on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

For more about Lori’s work, visit

Integrating Buddhism and the 12 Steps

Episode #102 | August 8, 2019

How can ancient principles from Zen and Tibetan Buddhism integrate with modern treatment programs to help more people build lasting recovery?

We’ll discuss this with author Darren Littlejohn on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

For more about Darren’s book, The 12 Step Buddhist, visit

Can LGBT-Affirmative Therapy Help Re-Write Internalized Messages?

Episode #101 | July 17, 2019

In a heteronormative culture, how can providers use affirmative therapy to help LGBT individuals re-write the false messages they’ve internalized?

We’ll answer this with psychologist, author and activist Dr. Lauren Costine on this episode of Recovery Unscripted.

For more about Dr. Lauren’s work, visit