Since 1994 Scott Alpert, PsyD has been treating people with mood disorder and addiction problems. He has worked in the Residential Treatment field, worked at the first Mental Health Urgent Care Center in the country, and in 2013 he co-founded the first Residential Treatment Center using Spiritual Psychology in the great Northwest.
In 2017 Basic Steps Mental Health Outpatient program was created by Dr. Alpert for ongoing treatment. Understanding that 60% of people relapse in the first year of recovery, Dr. Alpert opened a clinic for people to receive ongoing care.
Dr. Alpert has appeared on Radio, he is a Lecturer, an Author, and has been an advocate of alternative methods towards mental health. Dr. Alpert has treated over 7,000 people and has one mission – spreading the word of Spiritual Psychology.
Basic Steps: Thank you for allowing us to interview you, Dr. Alpert! As we spoke for a few minutes you seem very happy.
Dr. Alpert: I guess I am. I have come a long way in my life and “if I was able to go back in time” and tell myself 30 years ago that I would be a Doctor who successfully treated over 7,000 people I would have thought I was crazy. At the time I was in the darkest place in my life, literally sleeping on a doorstep in Hollywood. I cringe thinking about it now, but that was my bottom.
Basic Steps: So you have a substance use history yourself?
Dr. Alpert: I do, which is why people like me, who have been there become the best teachers. I can relate to people who have both substance problems and depression because I too have suffered from this.
Basic Steps: Did you use the 12 Steps to heal?
Dr. Alpert: No. Not quite. I actually used Spiritual Psychology, which was very new in the industry as a fluke. A friend kept telling me about a seminar that presented the subject and when I attended it I was blown away! It stopped me in my tracks of pursuing a career in Architecture and found me in the classroom studying the Spiritual Psychology approach. I still am amazed on how I healed issues I thought I was over with years ago.
Basic Steps: Is that what you present at Basic Steps?
Dr. Alpert: Oh, absolutely. In fact, the curriculum of the University was given to me by permission of the owner of The University of Santa Monica, where I attended Graduate School. The program presented there was so impactful that I thought it would be an amazing treatment program which I have adapted to Residential Treatment and now to Outpatient Treatment.
Basic Steps: Can you talk about the Outpatient treatment you provide?
Dr. Alpert: Sure. Treatment at our program doesn’t have a therapy feel to it. Well at least in the pure sense. It has more of an educational seminar feel in which people learn a variety of Psychological approaches, practice these approaches on each other, and in doing so understand the practical application of it. More or less it is like a counseling school. I love the fact that we employ interns at our facility because they sit in the Duo sessions and practice the approaches they learn in school but get to really understand from a client’s perspective what it feels like.
Basic Steps: It sounds like you are trying to train people to be counselors.
Dr. Alpert: In a sense, that is right. Though the intention is for people to learn these skills in order to on paper, counsel themselves using our “Self-Counseling method. When they showed me this at the University I was completely amazed! I had no idea a person could counsel themselves. I often wondered what this world would be like if in grade school they were teaching children how to process through their upset.
“I had no idea a person could counsel themselves”
Basic Steps: So you basically have clients counseling themselves?
Dr. Alpert: Not really. We are with them every step of the way. It is just a small part in the program where people counsel themselves and in fact, they do great at it in the end. If I was a client and had some sensitive issue I didn’t want to discuss with a professional, it is natural to reach out to a friend and this is the spirit behind what we do at Basic Steps – we provide the space for people to work through problems together. As for the staff, we provide individual treatment a few times a week. We oversee the sessions or sit in them in hopes of making sure people understand the approach that is being highlighted that day. But I have to tell you there is a special satisfaction I get when I see people in the program using Gestalt therapy. I also have to confess that many of the client sessions with each other rival the sessions I provide. Honestly, It doesn’t matter to me if a client does a better job than me, just as long as the person who is attending the program has a meaningful treatment experience.
“Psychology is a very interesting subject”
Basic Steps: Tell us your challenges in presenting the Basic Steps program.
Dr. Alpert: I think my ultimate challenge is with my own teaching style. I actually look at myself as a teacher. I am attempting to teach people how to be a counselor and many times I present things once and believe that people really understand it on the first pass. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t that smart in grad school. It had to be repeated to me over and over again. So lately I have been making it a priority to recap what was taught the day before. In doing so, more information tends to be presented. Psychology is a very interesting subject. It is so important for me to not make any assumptions and to literally slow down so that the message sent by me is being received.
Basic Steps: What does a typical day look like at your outpatient program?
Dr. Alpert: We tend to shake things up daily to avoid getting into a dull routine. One day we may start with a Closed Eye Visualization exercise using a Psychosynthesis approach. Some days we may do a Family Sculpting approach using a Virginia Satir Approach. The other day we went bowling. But basically, an approach is taught, the clients practice it on one another, then people talk in the group about their experiences and the staff provides input for them to complete the process. Usually, in the afternoon, we have a process group, individual therapy, or a lecture that the State Mandates. By the end of the day, people in the program realize that they are having a unique treatment experience that takes them on an incredible adventure to and through their innermost problems.
Basic Steps: What do you recommend for people who are searching for a Treatment Program?
Dr. Alpert: First of all it is important to research facilities. See if their approach matches your needs and your personal style. Some people do well with twelve steps because it is an entire social network. Plus this approach will save you a lot of money. If you want to get to the heart of the issue and process through it, then our program would be a match. Ours is not an easy program. It can feel like school because you learn how to be a counselor to yourself. There are other Alternative programs out there and some are quite good. I recommend for people that have located a facility but can not afford it to keep calling them. Sometimes their census is low and they are willing to lower their price for you. But see if you can talk to the Director of the program. After talking to that person ask yourself if you feel a connection. The first step in treatment is building trust. If you don’t feel like you trust the staff who runs the program it will be hard for you to open up to them. I assure you our staff has gone through this program, has used it on themselves and in doing so loves to present it because of the impact it has had on themselves – I included.
Basic Steps: Well thank you so much for your time!
Dr. Alpert: Thank you for your time too, it was a pleasure speaking with you!