Paradigm Change

Paradigm Change


L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW 

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Paradigm Change: The Collective Wisdom of Recovery

As a therapist for over forty years, in the field of substance abuse/addiction treatment, I have met many remarkable people and have been privileged to assist them in their journey of recovery. Over the years, I have gained an assortment of insights, tips, and practical advice, shared by my clients, that many have found useful in their own recovery.

I have come to call this knowledge “Collective Wisdom.” Together with twelve cognitive-behavioral themes, this information provides an effective framework for establishing long lasting sobriety.

About the Author

L. Georgi DiStefano is a licensed clinical social worker with extensive experience in the clinical management of substance abuse/chemical dependency treatment programs and employee assistance services. She is a popular speaker on the Paradigm Developmental Model of Treatment and workplace conflict resolution and has written extensively on both topics. She recently retired as the Executive/Clinical Director of the San Diego State University Center or Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Program. For 14 years she managed a multi-million-dollar budget with over 3,000 active weekly clients and a staff of 85 people. She previously managed the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for Kaiser Permanente Hospital System in San Diego, California.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she was the Director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program at Mesa Vista Hospital and the Founder and Executive Director of the Counseling and Recovery Institute in San Diego, California. Ms. DiStefano has been an adjunct assistant professor at San Diego State University in the school of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services for over 15 years. She is the lead author of the book and method, Paradigm Developmental Model of Treatment: A Clinical Guide for Counselors Working with Substance Abusers and the Chemically Dependent, which has been translated into several languages. She also wrote The Paradigm Developmental Model of Treatment: Group Topics, which has been utilized widely in substance abuse treatment and DUI programs. She is co-author of the award-winning book, It's All Your Fault at Work with William Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

In 1990, Ms. DiStefano was awarded the Clinical Social Worker of the Year from the Clinical Society of Social Work and National Association of Social Workers (NASW), California Chapter. In 2011, she received the National Association of Social Workers Lifetime Achievement Award, also from NASW, California Chapter. She has spoken nationally and internationally on both the Paradigm Treatment Model and Managing High Conflict Personalities, giving frequent seminars in locations such as Japan, Canada, Greece, New York, Chicago, New Mexico, Paraguay, and Buenos Aires. She also provides management consultation and executive coaching, in addition to her private practice and seminar work. In 2014, she was recognized for her significant contributions to the social work profession by being inducted into the California Social Work Hall of Distinction.


“Utilizing a case history approach, this book offers a veritable treasury of tools and techniques for successful therapy with the chemically dependent, provided by a proven master in the field!”

Annette R. Smith, PhD., LCSW
Author of The Social World of Alcoholics Anonymous: How It Works

“Georgi DiStefano’s Paradigm Change – The Collective Wisdom of Recovery is an ideal resource for individual therapy in which she reviews the 12 themes of the Paradigm Developmental model and provides client stories of the challenges faced by individuals in each of the themes. The client stories bring to life how with the help of professional therapy clients can achieve a successful recovery. This is a must read for clients, families, therapists and anyone with an interest in this field.”

Janlee Wong
Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter.

“Everything I learned in nearly 20 years of sobriety and 40 years as a mental health professional, Georgi DiStefano articulates in clear concise fashion in one fabulous text. There is much I didn’t know, and learned about the value of varied approaches to Recovery in addition to AA. Her inclusive acceptance of any proven strategy to achieve progress toward full Recovery in a single book is astounding. Paradigm Change-the Collective Wisdom of Recovery is truly a one-stop shop for a lifetime of recovery treatment wisdom.”

Carole, Los Angeles

“There are many books written about how to get sober, but this book, Paradigm Change: The Collective Wisdom of Recovery is also an excellent tool to use when helping people already well versed in recovery,some with many years of recovery under their belt, but struggling with an unexpected hiccup in their recovery journey.”

Abby Oberg, IMFT, MCA

“After reading Ms. DiStefano’s book, I was immensely encouraged to know there are people still out there willing to help people afflicted by addiction. I pray that this well written book gets in to the hands of people who need help and encouragement to lead them on a journey to recovery. As a double winner, I was able to relate to both sides of addiction....and so I believe this book can also help the friends and family of the addicted person.”

Sue, New York
(30 years of Sobriety)

“In this unique and highly readable book, Georgi DiStefano, LCSW has taken her 40+ years of clinical practice with clients with substance use disorders, and distilled the themes regarding recovery. She interweaves clients’ stories throughout the book, covering important challenges that present in everyday life. DiStefano grounds the book in research as well as lived experience. I highly recommend this book for those that want to learn more about changing drinking or drug use and are looking to live a fuller life.”

Melinda Hohman, PhD
Director and Professor
North American Associate Editor, British Journal of Social Work
School of Social Work, San Diego State University