I just got a new cell phone number:
I will continue taking calls at the old number, starting with (912) for about a year, until June 2021.
So, someone once told me that nothing is constant but change. Little did I know that would mean that I would be moving again.
I am closing up my business in Richmond Hill, GA and relocating to Madison, AL.
I plan to maintain this website and my email address. I will post a new phone number here when I get one.
I expect that I will re-open in the Huntsville/Madison, AL area before the end of 2019.
Holidays can be a stressful time for many people new and old in recovery. Here are a few of my favorite tips for staying sober during the holiday, or any other, season.
If you are invited to a party where drinks will be served and you want to go:
If I am ever asked why I am not drinking, I claim a severe allergy to alcohol, even alcohol that has been cooked out of a dish. (It just so happens that when I drink alcohol I break out…windows…relationships…in handcuffs…in jail.) On this note, I purposely do not eat anything which contains even traces of alcohol or alcohol-flavored foods such as beer-battered onion rings or fish. Both of the brain cells I have left might get confused and decide that something that tastes good might be good for me again.
Back to the allergy excuse; most people would not press strawberries or green beans on someone who has identified they have an allergy to them. I have learned that usually the only people who have ever had a problem with me not taking a drink were people who had some sort of perverse relationship with alcohol themselves. Remember, you never have to answer to anyone who questions your decision to not drink.
Religion and health are both great cop-outs. Nobody but the biggest dolts or idiots would try to slip an observant Jew or Muslim a slice of bacon or cause a serious athlete to fall off their training and diet regimen. If you claim religious observance or health consciousness, back it up with your behavior. Most seasonal holidays have some sort of religious associations to them and revisiting them with a clean and sober perspective may be enlightening.
Bring a game that can be played by both young and old. Most children will gravitate towards an adult who is willing to pay attention to them, especially if that adult is not intoxicated. I like dice games and cards because they are portable and not age-specific.
I have been and have used a sobriety partner when I go to holiday parties. Before going, I have a conversation with my support person, often my wife, about a code word or phrase that either one of us can use to leave immediately, no questions asked, no repercussions or pouting about how much fun they are losing out on that night. Steely stares and emotional outbursts in the car on the ride home are not much fun; but, they sure beat a hangover or a night in jail.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor is it entirely original. Most of the best stuff that I have gotten has come from someone else that has shared it with me. What I have shared is things that have worked for me, in my own sobriety.
Enjoy the holidays and remember that whatever you observe, it is just another day sober.
I am generally available most weekdays from 9 to 5. If you need another time or day, just contact me and we will figure something out.
I try to never answer the phone when I am doing something important such as driving, talking with a client, or eating dinner. If you get my voicemail, leave a message and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as i can.
Texting or email in o.k. for setting or changing appointments; but, i will not be discussing clinical issues via text or email.
All that said, it is easiest to reach me by calling: (256) 885-5193
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just before I started working for myself, actually for you, the customer, I became significantly disillusioned by the sheer volume of paperwork that was required by both insurance companies and government funding agencies just to sit down with a client and say: “I am glad you are here. So, what would you like to talk about today?”
If you have not noticed, government agencies and insurance companies have some very peculiar and particular ideas about what and how much information needs to be collected, collated, copied and filed before services can begin. I really believe that if someone is interested and willing enough to walk through my door, then they already have a pretty good idea about what they would like to talk about.
Over the course of our professional interaction, we may get around to some pretty personal details over the course of our conversations and counseling sessions, or we may not, it depends more on you than on a government or an insurance form.
One thing that I learned in my previous career as a chef was that the customer is always right and the reason for that is that they are the ones paying the bill. If I made them a lousy meal or they had a terrible experience at my establishment, then they did not come back, and they told their friends about it. I am bringing the same approach to my counseling practice because I believe that it works.
Some time ago, I was working for a state-funded treatment agency, serving predominantly a criminal justice population sentenced there for substance abuse treatment as part of their probation or parole. There was a pilot program where the participants paid a nominal fee for each group and individual counseling session that they attended. Initially, I though that it would not work as they did not have much money and had many other financial obligations. I was wrong, dead wrong. The clients that paid something for their treatment had far more favorable outcomes than those that did not. They missed fewer sessions, were late less often, had fewer positive drug tests and lower rates of relapse and re-offense. By paying for their treatment, they placed value on it, making it important to them made it work better for them. Why they stopped the pilot, I do not know; looking back on it, without keeping up relapse rates, treatment businesses might have been afraid of working themselves out of business.
Another reason that I do not accept insurance is that it takes an awful lot of work to file a claim, ensure payment and negotiate with declined requests for payment. As a sole provider, I do not want my clinical judgement clouded by a fight that I had with an insurance company over a client’s bill.
The other thing about employer sponsored insurance that I detest is the lack of privacy and confidentiality inherent in the billing system. In many cases, human resources, owners, managers, their secretaries and supervisors know who is using what type of insurance. If the insurance company, or any other payer wants to see clinical records, very often they are allowed to, otherwise they do not pay.
Short of you threatening to harm me, yourself or another human being, I am generally not required to report to anyone, anything you may say to me.
Anyway, if you have read this far, you must be interested in what I though would be fair, honest pricing, for fair, honest work. So, here goes:
Anyhow, I am seeking to make a living out helping others to make changes in their lives in regard to their use of substances. I really believe that treatment that has no cost has no value and treatment that has no value is of no use and may even prolong problems.
Hi, my name is Chris Gerhart and I live and work in North Alabama. I am a substance abuse counselor that has been working in this field for the past 25 years. I have several degrees, licenses and certifications. I have also been clean and sober since 1993. So, I have professional experience, academic education and personal experience.
After years of working for a number of really great people at some wonderful locations, I am happy and excited to be opening my own practice.
In thinking about what I wanted to do with this venture, I knew that I had a few key, underlying ideals that I want to live out. The first is that I do not believe that free services work well. If someone pays nothing for a service, then that service is worthless. To that end, I do not take money from any third-party sources such as insurance companies or government agencies. When third-party payers are involved, they become the client, which also puts a whole different spin on privacy and confidentiality.
In my way of doing business, because the only customer is the client being served, the treatment becomes entirely client-centered. Quite simply, if you don’t think that I am doing a good job, you will not come back. On the other hand, quality speaks for itself.
Addiction is not pretty. It tends to destroy peoples’ lives in many different ways. As we work through issues, sometimes the discussion will touch on some areas that we would rather leave alone such as family issues, death, grief and loss, PTSD and other forms of trauma. Because you, the client, determine the course, length and depth of treatment, we’ll cover these areas at your pace and discretion.
I believe in using several different tactics and strategies.
In general terms, this looks something like:
1. Immediate solutions
2. Establishing community supports
3. Examining underlying issues
4. Ongoing recovery and relapse prevention
If you think that using alcohol or other drugs has lost its charm for you, please give me a call. I have several different appointment times available at my new office, in Huntsville, AL. My office is located near 565 and 255, across the street from Bridge Street Shopping Center.