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Healing Underlying Core Issues: Key to Lasting Recovery

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dv540008.jpgMany people who suffer from substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety or a combination of these often find themselves at a crossroads. When we’ve gone through a challenging experience, it’s difficult to think clearly. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and out of sorts.

Children and young adults are too young to cope due to their limited life experience and not having the proper brain maturity to handle the situation.

As we age, these unaddressed issues may increase in intensity as the underlying core issues get pushed into the subconscious mind where they cycle repeatedly. This causes extreme distress as we expend tremendous effort to keep these issues from entering our consciousness.

Underlying Core Issues: Unfinished Business


Core issues are negative self-beliefs that are reinforced by negative life experiences. They often stem from experiences in our childhoods or young adult years. If you feel deep down that you are unworthy, will always be lonely, or aren’t good enough, that could be a core issue. 

Underlying core issues can be unresolved traumatic or impactful events that haven’t been properly addressed, leaving us unsettled and overwhelmed, often without understanding why. Underlying core issues can arise from being abused, witnessing abuse, being the abuser, being abandoned, or going through great loss. They can also stem from thoughts of unworthiness, loneliness and hopelessness from the collection of events which compose our lives. Gestalt Therapists call underlying core issues “Unfinished Business.” In order to profoundly heal, “Unfinished Business” must be addressed.

After a trauma, people generally cope in a number of predictable ways:

  • Acting out – using substances, addictive habits, and risky behaviors;
  • Rationalizing – minimizing the impact of the situation;
  • Staying busy – by distracting ourselves, we won’t have to deal with it;
  • Repeating the behavior – often abuse is handed down generation to generation. 

underlying-core-issuesUnderlying Core Issues Are Like a Splinter

Imagine you have a splinter deep in your leg. Your body is perfectly capable of healing over the splinter while it remains in place. In fact, healing can become so complete that it is no longer visible and you forget all about it.

But let the slightest pressure hit that spot and your pain returns anew and worse than before! The splinter is still there and in fact has festered, making it more painful than when it first went in.

This is the way an underlying core issue affects our lives. We try hard to mask the symptoms, hoping they will heal over and cause us no more pain, but in truth this isn’t so. An underlying core issue is waiting just beneath the surface for the slightest provocation and when triggered can explode forth with unnerving veracity.

Identifying and Healing Underlying Core Issues

Identifying underlying core issues requires a straightforward technique which can be mastered. It is as simple as taking a current emotional reaction and riding it back in time to the first time you remember feeling that way. What was going on? Who was there? Where do you feel it in your body? At The Clearing, identifying underlying core issues is the first step toward issue resolution. The ‘splinter’ is gently removed so healing can once and for all be complete.

The good news is it’s treatable. As mentioned above, simple and elegant processes allow the underlying core issue to be identified and healed, the ‘splinter’ is gently removed so healing can once and for all be complete.

Residential Treatment Needs a Facelift

Presently the residential treatment industry is in dire need of an overhaul; its overwhelming focus is on ‘coping mechanisms’ which don't address the underlying core issues causing the disturbance in the first place. This is what makes The Clearing’s program so unique. Our focus on addressing the underlying core issues which lead to substance abuse and mood disorders is unprecedented. We do so as a team - all participants go through the program from start to finish together; doing so allows us to follow a curriculum which progresses substantially day by day.

About The Clearing

The Clearing is a residential treatment center located on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. We created The Clearing in response to the pervasiveness of treatment centers that focus more on luxury than modern, evidence-based therapy.

Our approach is based on healing the underlying core issues that cause addiction. If you'd like to learn more, contact us, or download our free eBook:

Download eBook:

Healing Underlying Core Issues

  Download eBook:  Healing Underlying Core Issues
Joe Koelzer

This post was written by Joe Koelzer

Joe Koelzer is a co-founder of The Clearing. He has years of counseling experience and a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. After observing how depression and substance abuse impacted his wife’s life, Joe realized how broken our current system is for addiction and related mental health treatment. He witnessed firsthand how an evidence-based approach coupled with Spiritual Psychology saved Betsy and enabled her to gain control of her life. In co-founding The Clearing, Joe realizes his dream of creating and sharing this innovative approach with others in a structured clinical setting.

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