AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine


Constance Scharff

Constance Scharff, Ph.D

Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research

Lunch February 15th 2014

Course Description:

In addiction treatment, we talk a great deal about powerlessness, disease, and the terrible odds any individual addict faces in achieving long-term sobriety. We dwell on death far more than on hope – yet hope is perhaps the most critical element an addict can have or be given to create fertile ground for recovery.

What are the factors needed to create hope in hopeless, particularly for addicts who most often are chief among those in despair? How can vulnerability and shame be used to create truth and courage? Is there a role for acupuncturists and other healing professionals to play in developing hope among addicts and others, or is this area for spiritual advisors only? What is the relationship between hope and gratitude, and how does gratitude bolster hopefulness in times of trial?

Speaker Bio:

Constance Scharff has a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, specializing in addiction recovery.  She is the Addiction Researcher and Transformative Studies Scholar at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center and coauthor of the best-selling book, Ending Addiction for Good with Richard Taite. Her analysis of integrated, holistic addiction recovery methods is being heralded as “groundbreaking” and “life saving.” Dr. Scharff writes for a variety of journals and speaks worldwide to healing professionals on the science and spirituality of addiction recovery –- from the neuroscience of addiction recovery, to depression and trauma as related to addiction, to the concepts of vulnerability and hope.  She has traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, and North America, learning how to help individuals evoke life-transforming experiences and use those experiences to heal addictions and trauma. She is also a nationally renowned transformational consultant, helping addicts in recovery navigate difficult spiritual experiences and grow in positive directions from them.

Before devoting herself completely to addiction research, Constance spent a decade in various volunteer and paid positions with the Girl Scouts.  A vibrant speaker, Constance achieved the level of “Master Trainer” with the Girl Scouts and has trained hundreds of volunteers and staff for the Girl Scouts, Association of Girl Scout Executive Staff, and the American Camp Association in the areas of leadership, diversity, social activism, nature education and low impact outdoorsmanship.  A tireless advocate for opportunities for girls and women, Constance brought Girl Scout programming to underserved areas in Los Angeles’ inner city and has assisted in providing opportunities for girls’ education in East Africa.  She has an MA in Transformative Leadership from the California Institute of Integral Studies and continues to provide consulting services to a wide variety of nonprofit groups.

Personally and academically, Constance has an interest in ecstatic spiritual experience, the kind of experience that literally changes a person’s life in a moment.  For more than twenty years, she has sought out teachings from all available sources: rabbis, shamans, mystics, and spiritual seekers from traditions across the globe.  She has traveled the world visiting practitioners of various religious traditions in order to help her understand how it is that individuals apprehend God.  Trained by some of the world’s leading thinkers in psychology, cybernetics, and integral theory, she focuses specifically on the ways in which ecstatic spiritual experiences can radically transform those who have them.  She then uses that understanding to help those undergoing deep-seated change to incorporate that change in ways that are healthy and productive.

An author and poet, Constance currently writes on the subjects of addiction recovery, relapse prevention, ecstatic spiritual experience, personal transformation and Jewish mysticism.  Her most recent works will be available in late 2013 and 2014.  These include a book of Jewish-themed poetry called, I Want a God with Arms and a first-person account of radical spiritual transformation, Becoming Ahuva, both published under her Hebrew name, Ahuva Batya.

To learn more about Constance, visit her website.