The Celebrity Therapist

that Celebrity Rehab 4 is going to be airing, I notice I have
butterflies in my stomach.  That familiar feeling that are people going
to be judging me again for my work on Celebrity Rehab.  No one can judge
me more than I sometimes judge myself for many things, but not this.  I
totally have loved every minute working behind the scenes and in front
of the camera during the filming of the show.  Like I have always said,
the show plants seeds for the celebrities as well as the viewers.  It
completely resonates with the work I do although it is television.

I believe celebrities are truly not all that different than anyone
suffering from an addiction.  Although sometimes, there are “yes” people
that surround them, they have the same pain any one of us in the
disease has.  The celebrities this year worked on issues in a very deep
and profound way.  For the first time, we explored childhood trauma in a
very gut wrenching and real way and I am proud of every single one of

I have been accused of being a “fraud” by many including people who I
thought were my friends and colleagues.  Dr. Drew once told me to get
used to that because there is a lot of “jealousy” out there.  I don’t
mind being open about this because I love what I do inside and outside 
the set helping people get clean and sober and fulfill their wildest
dreams.  That is why I wrote the book “The Law of Sobriety.” 
Again, I have many people who love my book and perhaps I have helped
them with the message.  Again, there are others who are jealous and
diminish the time and effort I put into writing the book, but they are
entitled to their opinions.  I know my truth, but I am also in recovery
and can be hurt and feel the pain of others  judgments like anyone
else.  That is the price you pay when you are public.  I am sure many
others out there in the public feel the same way, but I just speak what
some can’t say.

When your values align with your true essence, you are doing the
things you are good at and truly enjoy. You are making choices that
honor your values. What are the moments in your life that have been
especially fulfilling or rewarding? In those moments, you were aligned
with your values. And in those moments, the energy of the universe
filled you with drive and fulfillment and peace.  That is how I feel
everyday because my work is my calling and my purpose, and I am so
grateful that I get to wake up doing what I love each and every day.

Sometimes us psychotherapists and healers are so busy helping others learn how to give themselves the self care they need, we forget to give it to ourselves.  There are different names for it, but I think “caregiver burnout” describes it perfectly.  As Thanksgiving approaches, I realize I may be approaching burn out.  As addicts and alcoholics, you know that old saying HALT (Hungry,Angry,Lonely, Tired) are the things you need to avoid or relapse may be a step away.  I am definitely feeling tired.  I am grateful for all the wonderful things this year has brought me, but at the same time, I need a big pause.  As I watch myself go on autopilot, I realize that it is time to be still, meditate, slow down, and be present.  Those are some of the things that are part of my self-care regimen.  What about you?


of us believe, in theory, that we should make efforts to take better
care of ourselves, through better eating, more exercise, or working our
recovery programs. But we can fall into the trap of forgetting to engage
or these behaviors. Under the surface, there might be another reason we
don’t follow through: we don’t really believe that we deserve to tend to our personal well-being. Self-care is often erroneously and critically labeled selfishness. It’s not. Even Jesus and Gandhi took time for themselves, withdrawing from the crowds to tend to their spirits.


spent in self-care fills us up so we can give of ourselves and not be
left dried and shriveled up like last summer’s grapes left on the vine.
Most of us can relate to the feeling of running on empty. This
automotive analogy is actually a good one. What can our car do for us
with no gasoline in the tank? Be a large, shiny driveway ornament? Not
so useful. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to run and give and
work and cook and clean and put on a happy face with nothing fueling us?
It’s crazy, and it’s high time we kick crazy to the curb.


yourself a priority. Make the time to do the things that fill you up.
For some, it may be a leisurely stroll on the beach. For others, 30
uninterrupted minutes with a great book. Or a fabulous bike ride or
coffee with your friends or seeing your loving therapist (see how I slid
that one in?). Or seeing a movie in the theater. It
doesn’t have to be a week long trip to Tahiti (though if you get the
opportunity, I highly recommend jumping at it). In fact, they should be
the small things that you love. The ones that bring you peace and a
sense of reconnection with yourself. Small things are doable and can be
easily incorporated into your everyday life. Pick a few and put them on
your calendar, in your Blackberry, whatever — and then actually do them.


those resisters who think, “I can’t possibly take that time. I won’t be
able to be there as much for my kids and spouse and boss” — stop making
excuses. Because, honestly, that’s what that is. If your kids or spouse
or boss had to choose between someone who was happy and creative and
energized when they were with them or someone who was barely hanging on
by a thread, who do you think they would choose? Who would you
choose? By investing in yourself, you create dividends to extend to
those around you. When you’re running on empty, all you’re giving them
are your fumes. Not pleasant.


aside those faulty notions of the nobility of killing yourself for the
greater good. Realize that your greatest gift to give others is the best
version of yourself.
  Remember, you are “enough” and that “more” is not always better, especially when you have too much on your plate. So go ahead, take that sacred pause.  You absolutely deserve it.


One of the clients I had the privilege to work with on season 4
of Celebrity Rehab is actor Eric
Roberts. Eric has been acting since he was 5, and has a reputation for taking
on edgy roles and playing them fearlessly. He’s been in many movies, including The Dark Knight, had a recurring role on
the TV series Heroes, and was
nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his performance in Runaway Train.

            Eric was in a
very serious car crash in 1981 that left him in a coma for three days and
changed his face forever. He became a heavy cocaine user, adding it to the
marijuana he said he has smoked all his adult life. He was arrested for
possession and eventually kicked the cocaine habit, but ended up struggling
with prescription medications. Plus, he never gave up the marijuana.

            I read an
interview that Eric did recently with ET Online in which he said, “I’ve been a
pothead all my adult life.” And on Celebrity
he said, “Anything bad or negative that ever happened in my career or
in my personal life had to do with the abuse of drugs, completely.” (You can
see it in the season trailer here:

            So why did he
keep smoking marijuana? In the interview with ET he said, “I liked it, it makes
me nice, and I’m basically by nature a curmudgeon, so smoking pot makes you
very pleasant.” And that’s not an exaggeration, because Eric has been arrested
for spousal abuse and for trying to assault a police officer. He has rage
issues when he’s not smoking marijuana.

            Rage is an
interesting emotion–one we sometimes characterize as primitive. And that’s not
far off the mark. Rage stems from our very primitive “fight or fight” response;
in the very olden days, if our life was in danger, a physiological response
would kick in and we would be able to either run away really fast or else try
to fight our way out of the problem.

            All kinds of
physiological responses once enabled us to deal with the type of extreme
physical danger humans used to face routinely. The problem is that these
extreme physiological responses still kick when we face stresses that are not
really threats, and some people just don’t know how to deal with them. So they
act on them, often violently. But while violence may have been the perfect
response for fighting off a bear, it’s not appropriate for when you get angry
at your spouse or a police officer or anyone else who has done something to
tick you off.

            Eric’s answer
was to control his rage with marijuana–which does, indeed, dull some
physiological responses. That’s an answer, but it’s not a solution. The
solution is to learn to put into context the things that make us angry, so that
small events do not spark large reactions. When we can do that, we don’t need
any substance to dull our perception or our reaction. We can feel fully, but
also think fully and see the small stuff for what it really is.


Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1 and the author of The Law of Sobriety. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, newsletters, and is a sought after speaker. She has appeared on Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, E!News, CNN Prime News, San Diego Living, San Diego Fox, and KTLA. Contact Sherry at or go to her blog at to learn more about Sherry’s private practice, psychotherapy, life coaching (by telephone all over the world), teleseminars, webinars, audios, and meditation CD’s.

With the tabloids and news announcing the filing of divorce by Eva Longoria from her husband Tony Parker, I couldn’t help but think of the deep pain she must be going thru.  After finding out that he has been allegedly been having an affair with one of their mutual friends must have been excruciating for her.  We can only hope she will be able to walk through the pain without avoiding it so that she can eventually get to the other side of her despair.

We humans are so afraid of pain–physical pain and emotional
pain–that we’ll do almost anything to avoid it. We’ll even choose something
safe and familiar that we don’t like, rather than taking a risk on something we
really want. We do that because risky ventures might fail, and failure causes
us pain.

            Our fear of
pain is what leads us to addiction. We can’t bear the pain of our current
situation or the memories of a painful past, so we numb ourselves in an effort
not to feel it.

            The irony here
is that our efforts to avoid pain just cause us more pain–and make true
happiness impossible. We don’t take the risk, so we never get what we want. We
don’t face the difficult past, so we are never free of that pain. We don’t sort
out the painful present, so we never make things right. And the pain just goes
on and on.

            We can’t be
numb 100 percent of the time. And in sobriety, we can’t be numb at all. So we
need to learn how to experience our pain–truly feel it–and just sit with it.

            How can we do
this? The first step is to see it for what it is. We are so afraid of pain that
we build it up in our minds: “This pain will be the biggest, worst, most
intolerable pain ever and I will not be able to bear it, which is why I must do
anything to avoid it.” Do you see how our fear of experiencing pain makes it
seem worse than it really is?

            Rather than
worry about how bad it’s going to feel, just
feel it.
Feel it without adding on the extra burden of fear. Notice the
pain with interest and curiosity. Just tolerate it for a bit. Notice how it
makes you feel. Know that eventually it will pass.

            When you learn
to detach from your pain without fear or desperation–rather than fighting it,
ignoring it or trying to numb it away–you’ll see that, after all, it is only a
thought. And thoughts exist in our minds. They are not part of our lives.
There’s no need to fear them.