The Celebrity Therapist

I have a client who’s a shy but talented girl. She loves music, and decided to join the band in her high school. She learned how to play the xylophone, and really enjoys herself when she plays at band practice. But when I saw her, she had a concert coming up and she was so nervous that she was thinking of dropping out of the band.

            I asked her what she was so afraid of and she said, “I’m afraid I’ll make mistake while I’m playing.” That’s a fear we all have, isn’t it? We’re afraid we’ll make a mistake–especially when others are watching. Fear of making a mistake can keep us from even starting something new. Our fear ends up defeating us before we even begin.

            But my client loves to play music, and I didn’t want her fear to push her into giving it up. So I asked her a simple question: “If you do make a mistake, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

            She thought about this for a moment, and said her fellow band members or someone in the audience might notice and say something to her about it. “And if they did, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” I pressed her.

            “I’d be embarrassed,” she said.

            “And if you were embarrassed, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

            This time, she shrugged. “I’d be embarrassed.” It didn’t sound so scary when she said it this time. “Nobody would yell at you or hit you, people in the audience wouldn’t throw things at you, you wouldn’t be kicked out of band?”

            “No,” she admitted. Okay, we all sometimes think we’d die of embarrassment, but that’s just something people say; nobody actually dies of embarrassment. We just feel it and then move on. My client realized it certainly wasn’t worth giving up something she loves just to avoid feeling embarrassed for a moment.

            How many times do we let fear hold us back from trying something new? When we’re afraid, we create giant monsters in our mind–terrible consequences if we fail. But when we stop to really examine these monsters, we see that they’re just annoying little mosquitoes we can swat with ease. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” By asking yourself this simple question, you can break the hold fear has over you and free yourself from the inaction it causes.

            “I want to try sushi, but I’m afraid I won’t like it.” If you don’t like it, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You’d have to order something else and pay for both dishes, so you’d be out a few dollars.

            “I want to apply for that job, but I’m afraid I’m not qualified.” If you apply and the hiring company decides you aren’t qualified, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You won’t get the job. But you don’t have the job now, so you’d be no worse off than you were before.

            “I want to ask that woman for a date, but I’m afraid she’d say no.” If you ask her and she says no, what’s the worst thing that could happen? She might tell her friends you asked her out and she turned you down. You might be embarrassed by that. And if you were embarrassed, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You’d be embarrassed and her friends would know you asked her out. What’s the worst thing that could happen as a result? Not much.

            The best way to break through your fear is to examine it coolly and ask yourself if it’s based in reality. When you do that, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addictions, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and helping her clients find their life purpose. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach/Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.

One of the things that sometimes puts people off about 12-step programs is the idea of accepting a higher power into your life. What if you don’t believe in any particular religion? Why is it necessary to believe in something greater than yourself?

            Sobriety is all about knowing and accepting yourself, including all the parts you don’t like–your insecurities, fears, guilt, and doubt. That doesn’t mean you just accept your flaws and say, “Oh well, I’ll live with this”; you must also believe that you can transform yourself. But how can you both accept your flaws and work on transforming them?

            To accept your imperfections and also trust that you can change, you must be willing to turn these imperfections over to something greater than yourself. That something is your higher power. You might call it Yahweh or Jesus or Buddha or Allah or Shiva. Or you might step outside of organized religion and call it the universe or spirituality or positive energy.

            To transform your life, you must seek to transform yourself through spiritual growth. Spiritual growth might mean embracing God as you understand that idea. It might also mean embracing what is positive in your life with the belief that the more you embrace the good, the more good the universe will send you.

            Embracing the good means turning away from the negative. You must be willing to release all the toxic energy your negative thoughts create and replace them with positive thoughts that reflect who you are striving to become. The Law of Sobriety says that your destiny is determined by how you consciously expend your energy. Right actions and positive thoughts will bring you more of the same. And this, of course, means your destiny is in your own hands.

            When you believe in your higher power, you also believe you can transform yourself–even if everyone around you says you can’t. So when you get right down to it, your higher power is what enables you to believe in yourself. And when you believe in yourself, the possibilities are endless. You can walk through your fears and doubts and become who you were always meant to be.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addicitons in Agoura Hills. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab.

I finally have had a moment to breathe after a week and a half working on Celebrity Rehab 4 to blog.  I always find each year on Celebrity Rehab uniquely different.  This year what has struck me most is realizing how painful it is for celebrities to be under the microscope for the media to exploit.  I suppose my even writing this blog is some sort of exploitation, but my intention is to point out the difficulties it is for celebrities, especially addicts and alcoholics, to be under the constant glare of the media.  Yes, some have charmed and manipulated the media to meet their own needs, but for those suffering with the disease of addiction, it is a matter of life and death for most of them.

What celebrities need when they go to rehab is to be treated like anyone else.  The disease of alcoholism touches every socio-economic, age, ethnicity, religion, occupation, and gender. It is an equal-opportunity problem.   It doesn’t matter if you are a celebrity or not.  One difference, however, between celebrities and the public getting sober is celebrities have numerous “yes” people around them that are afraid they might lose their access to the celebrity if they don’t do what they are asked.  Isn’t Michael Jackson a perfect example of this?  Or how about Brittany Spears? And most recently Lindsay Lohan?  It may sound like heaven to be surrounded by a bunch of yes people, but in the end, all it adds up to is a free availability of drugs and a host of people enabling the addict.  Often their staff does not deal with the celebrity in a way that is conducive to him/her getting sober

 It is very difficult for anyone, celebrity or not, to be put into treatment without all the luxuries of the outside world.   What they don’t need are people from the outside enabling them or paparazzi hounding them by putting out media blurbs that are false.  This undermines the recovery process and can be actually very harmful and hurtful for celebrity addicts trying to get clean and sober. The public is fascinated when celebrities are down and out.  Isn’t the last month of listening to Mel Gibson’s tirade an example of that?  Once in a while we hear how a celebrity has turned their life around.  However, those who successfully stay off drugs and alcohol often slip below the radar, while those who continue to use drugs and create dramas stay in the public eye.

Recovering addicts, whether of a celebrity status or not, need the support of their friends, family, and community.  They fight the same demons that anyone else does in fighting the disease and its temptations.  They are under incredible stresses just like you and me.  In fact, a study reported in Current Research in Social Psychology stated celebrities is twice as likely as non-celebrities to have alcohol-related problems. The study reported that certain personality types are linked between star status and addiction.   The study noted that celebrities tend to have “strong neurotic and extroverted tendencies”, while although beneficial for their careers, can make them highly co-dependent on what others think of them, resulting in mood swings often triggering compulsive behavior.  Also, as they become more famous, they become more self-conscious and less confident which can also lead to substance abuse.  In addition, celebrities are expected to be the life of the party having to be “on” all the time around people who really are more invested in their appearances then their well-being.

Working on Celebrity Rehab this year has brought to me a new found compassion and understanding of how difficult it is to be a celebrity and have an addiction.  They continually have to defend what the media has portrayed them to be in sound bites that are often closer to fiction than fact; and at the same time, combat the destructive nature of their disease.  Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t feel bad for them, they have everything: money and fame.”  Think again, because I am here to tell you, as the 12 step program teaches us “Don’t ever compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.”  The grass is not always greener on the other side.   

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”  The success of her private practice and coaching program made her the go-to expert for Dr. Drew Pinsky on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab 2 and 3 and its spinoff, Sober House, and has continued as the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab 4.  Sherry’s expertise has been quoted in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times Blog, E! Online, Elle Online, The Huffington Post, and she has appeared on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, E! News, Dr. Drew Live, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Sherry is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, is a sought-after speaker, and lives with her family in Southern California where she maintains an active private practice. Visit Sherry at

2 Moms and a Mic

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Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC JULY 28 tune in 1400 KKZZ . COM at 8am Pacific Time discussing Celebrity Rehab and my new book “The Law of Sobriety.” 

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