In the Beginning…….

Until her death, Dr. Angeles Arrien was my teacher and mentor for over a decade. Her wisdom and guidance were invaluable and are evident in every aspect of my own work.

She was insistent that I should meet Dr. Roger Walsh, a psychiatrist, psychologist and professor at the University of California at Irvine. I had read many of Dr. Walsh’s books, which were wonderful, and I was enthusiastic about meeting this great man. When I asked Angeles why she wanted me to meet Dr. Walsh, she said, “ Because you are going work with him.” Soon thereafter, Angeles died quite unexpectedly.

I couldn’t imagine how Dr. Walsh and I would work together. He is an academic and I am a clinician. While theoretically aligned, our actual work is quite different.

And then I was invited to be a presenter at The Tibetan Medical Society, called Men-Tse-Khang, Conference in Dharmsala, India. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama sponsors this event to bring together Western mental health professionals and Tibetan mental health professionals for a conference to share our various methodologies for treating behavioral and mental health issues. I was given the topic, Remedies for Disturbing Factors in Body, Mind, Life. Oh, Boy! That seemed quite an assignment. I wondered what I might present that would be culturally relevant, as so much of psychological treatment is culture bound, and I would be presenting to an international gathering of mental health professionals.

And then I remembered Dr. Walsh’s work on Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for optimizing mental health. I had seen a presentation he had given about something he called, 8 Ways to Wellbeing, introducing eight aspects of lifestyle that contribute to better mental health. This seemed like something that would be relevant to anyone anywhere.

I called Roger (I call him Roger now!) and asked his permission to use his material for my PowerPoint presentation. He was all for it and provided me with the video from his website and all the information I needed to create a wonderful lecture. My audience of about 400 loved it! It was simple and understandable to everyone, and easily implemented. A Bulgarian woman came out of the crowd and gave me a vial of pure rose oil in thanks, and the questions that were asked enriched the whole discussion.

It’s a very long flight home from India ….. like anywhere from 22 to 30 hours, depending. I had a long time to think about all that had happened and how the 8 Ways might be better utilized by mental health professionals, to optimize the mental health of their patients (and themselves) at no additional cost, through psycho-education about the well-researched, and therefore, evidence-based therapeutic lifestyle changes.

And then it occurred to me! Why not create a workbook illustrating the 8 Ways, the rationale for which had already been researched and determined, for the recovering community, who often suffer from post-acute withdrawal and other issues secondary to their addiction.

And so, for the next three years, I worked on the weekends to gather materials for a workbook, which could be used in both inpatient and outpatient settings, for groups or individuals, and beyond the cost of the workbook, would entail no additional cost to the reader.

8 Ways to Wellbeing for Recovering People is the result! Dr. Roger Walsh has written the Forward and numerous leaders in our field have read through it and written endorsements and words of encouragement.

Endorsements for 8 Ways to Well Being for Recovering People

People are saying …..

“Healthy practices done daily provide a way of living that leads to a happier and fuller life for all of us. The 8 Ways to Wellbeing for Recovering People program that Dr. Weedn has laid out will help not only people who are recovering from addiction, but everyone else, as well. The book and video are both informative and moving.”

….. Joycelyn Elders, M.D., Former Surgeon General of the USA

“Dr. Sonnee Weedn has made a major contribution to recovery from addiction via this workbook, which provides actionable steps to move the recovery forward. Dr. Weedn has taken the groundbreaking work of Dr. Roger Walsh and operationalized it into steps and strategies to help the recovering person engage fully in recovery, develop a plan, work the plan, and set up a system of accountability with one or more significant others. Recovery is hard, hard work and this book provides help to make the work a bit easier.”

….. G. Richard Smith, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Public Health University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine

When addiction sets in, the person and their history fall into an abyss of pain and suffering. Dr. Weedn’s workbook offers a guide to exit the darkness and remain sober, with a no-nonsense, kind and loving message, and realistic invitation to rebuild health and enjoy life again. This is a must read for those healing from addiction of any kind.”

….. Ana Nogales, Ph.D., Founder, Casa de la Familia and Nogales Psychological Counseling

Jeremy Broderick and Melissa Goodmon provided enormous support for this project with encouraging words, and provided time and space for me to write. Jeremy arranged for Scotty Avalos to create the lovely film that can be seen on You Tube as well as here and on my website at

Leonard Buschel selected the film to be shown in Los Angeles and New York during the Reel Recovery Film Festival. At the Los Angeles showing, two psychiatrists approached me afterwards and said that they seldom have more than 15 to 20 minutes with a patient and they would love to have the workbook to give to their patients to provide a more comprehensive treatment regimen than they are able to provide through medication management.

It will be a few more weeks before the workbook is ready for sale. We are finalizing the inevitable details, such as what type of binding, etc., and then off it goes to lend support to recovering people.

But, stand by! The version appropriate for the general public and the version for adolescents in recovery are in the works and will be available soon.

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