Questions and Answers with Juan Lesende


Here we interview the founder of Adaptive Center to learn about the philosophy of the Adaptive Center.

Can you start by giving us a short history and summary of the philosophy of the Adaptive Center?

Juan: The Adaptive Center’s history actually started when I began working in the field of addiction treatment over 20 years ago. One of the first things I noticed when I got into this field is that what many treatment centers were doing was not very effective, and many people were relapsing. After observing for many years what worked and what didn’t work, I decided to open up my own center, and incorporate everything I had learned in my years in this field. On Oct. 27th of this year, we will celebrate our two year anniversary.

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement, which started in the late 1960s in California. The philosophy behind this movement is that we as human beings are born with the potential to be something. Just as a sapling which has the potential to grow into a tree can be bound in its growth by circumstances, so humans can be kept from reaching their potential. Circumstances like trauma, addiction, and mental illness tend to stunt growth and keep people from becoming what they were capable of being.

We use psychology and scientifically validated spiritual practices to liberate people from bindings such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, so that the person can reach their potential. Our goal is not just to help the person stop drinking and using drugs. We want to remove those things so that the person can learn and develop the skills they need in order to reach their full potential in life.

What makes the Adaptive Center unique from other treatment programs?

Juan: The environment we provide for clients resembles real life very closely. We are located in the middle of a city, not a remote, vacation-like location or a campus. Studies have shown that people internalize skills best when they are learning them in the environment in which they are going to use them. We have found that because of this our clients are able to learn skills better and put them into practice more effectively after treatment.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we have a proprietary model. After years of research, we created   a very individualized treatment model. It was created through academic research and real life observations, and is not borrowed from someone else.

We have an entire population of only 12 residents. What this means is we have a lot of time and resources to provide an extremely personalized treatment experience. These people are not just our clients; they get really close to our staff, and we have time and resources to devote to each one’s recovery.

We invest the majority of our resources in excellent treatment, not in window dressing to attract people to a grown-up version of Disney World, disguised as treatment. We are dedicated to the quality of therapists, whom we select very carefully, in their training, and in the research needed to find the tools that will best help our clients.

What specific types of therapies are used during treatment at the Adaptive Center?

Juan: Mindful cognitive therapy: This is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the most tested and effective system of psychotherapy used in the past 30 years.  In this form of CBT, the added focus is on mindfulness—or increasing awareness. We train our clients in mindfulness through Zen meditation and yoga to the techniques of CBT. Very strong research shows that the increasing mindfulness helps people become aware of themselves, and their environment, in the here and now, and adds great benefits to the actual therapy.

System-based family therapy: We have found that this therapy is essential to recovery. The family can bring background information into treatment, which helps us better understand and reach clients. During this therapy we also work to repair the broken relationships that our clients have experienced with their families, so that when they return home they can have a more peaceful and welcoming environment, which will give them a better chance to stay clean.

Morita therapy: This is a Japanese form of therapy that is based on focusing on the task at hand. What this means is that we teach our clients to abandon themselves to whatever activity they are doing in the moment. For example, while hanging clothes in a closet, clients should pay attention to the details involved in order to do it right, not to other things that are concerning them at the time. This focused attention provides them with relief from obsession, cravings, and anxiety. Because we provide clients with a real-life, supportive environment, we are able to help them put this therapy into practice while carrying out their everyday tasks.

Social rhythm therapy: Through this type of therapy, we help clients create and keep a rhythm of their normal activities throughout the day. We have clients wake up, eat meals, and go to bed at the same times every day, in order to set their internal rhythm. This helps the brain become calm, and instead of having to guess what will happen next, the brain falls into a rhythm and provides relief from anxiety, depression, and cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Physical Fitness: Research in neurology—the science of the brain—proves that 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily promotes benefits to the working of the human brain.


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