Book Club Expands for Women Rethinking Their Drinking

Now Interviewing for New Monday Night Option Starting Jan. 20

By Sarah Moore, LPC

Sunstone Counseling’s therapeutic book club, Rethinking Your Drinking, has expanded to include a second session starting Monday, January 20th. Interviews have begun and spots are still available for the group, which will meet for 6 consecutive Monday nights from 7-8:30pm.   

We have been fortunate to have had an array of accomplished and supportive women since Rethinking Your Drinking started two years ago. Key to our success has been many referrals of individual clients by other therapists in Northern Virginia, the District, and even suburban Maryland. The group meets the increasing need clinicians see for support for women whose drinking is in the “grey area” but which is not specifically religious or abstinence-only in focus.  

Rethinking Your Drinking also coincides with increasing interest in books written by female authors who have found a healthier relationship with alcohol as well as sober groups and events, including sober book clubs. And this time of year, so many of us are we intrigued by the potential benefits of a Dry January and other wellness options. 

I am a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and have been studying women and drinking since I started my second career and obtained my master’s in Clinical Mental Health at Marymount University. While at Marymount I had the chance to co-lead groups for a year at a leading local Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for alcohol and drug use. All too often I have found that standard treatment options do not understand and meet the needs of women. I am passionate about helping to fill that gap and excited and grateful for the support the Book Club has obtained from our community.

I am a Washingtonian, wife, and mom and have raised two teenagers here.  Personally and professionally, I have seen how a slow creep of increased drinking by women in our work, social, and motherhood culture can lead to an increase in anxiety. Research is showing us that alcohol inhibits the deep, restorative sleep the brain needs to process the many demands in our lives. (And we know life in our area is stressful!) Data is confirming our suspicions that we process alcohol differently as individuals, as women, and as we age — and, fortunately, it’s also helping us understand what levels of drinking work better for our health.

Rethinking Your Drinking answers the question, “Ok, now what?” for successful women who have met just about every goal they have set for themselves in life, except improve their drinking.  We use a group format, again, because of research. Group counseling works more often with drinking issues because it not only alleviates isolation, but also provides motivation and is less expensive. We use a book club format to give it a social but also very informative basis and to tailor what we study to individual and group needs. For example, if in a session of group many women are noticing increased stress in their relationships, we will read a book by a leading couples counselor, discuss the author’s approach, and explore other options and resources for each woman to pursue at their own pace.

Groups are limited to about 6 and each member is asked to commit to all 6 meetings. That’s asking a lot — and I am aware that you are being asked to commit to a group you don’t know and to a format that you have not experienced. The challenge and the group are not for everyone. Potential participants are interviewed by me at no cost for 1-hour to confirm they are motivated to change, that they are ready to support others, and to confirm that they would not be better served by a higher level of care. They get a chance to see what Sunstone is like and what it would be like to work with me. Most importantly, they get a chance to share their story, reflect for themselves on what their goals are, and hopefully get support at the same time.

Book Club members are generally from Falls Church, Arlington, and McLean. Many have advanced degrees. Most work and have children. Almost all have lived with someone who has had great difficulty with alcohol or drugs. Many know ahead, and some realize during the time that they are in the group that they need to address challenges in their primary relationships and at work. The Book Club is where they find the support and motivation to do that. It represents their way to both take preventative measures and feel like themselves again.  

The cost of the Book Club is $80 per week, with a commitment of 6 weeks needed. Payment is weekly. For details and to schedule an interview, please contact me at sarah@sunstonecounselors.com.