Adrian Hickmon Workshop


Surviving the Dark Cave - A Framework for Seeing and Being with People Through the Crucibles of Emptiness, Trauma, and Addictions

Presenter: Adrian Hickmon, PhD


This pre-Summit workshop is a 2.5-hour presentation with a 10-minute break at the 1-hour and 15-minute mark. 2.5 hours of continuing education credits have been applied for. 

To attend this session, choose the appropriate ticket price on the registration page

Presentation summary:

Addictions, self-destructive coping behaviors, most often begin as solutions to previously unsolvable problems of distress. Solutions that almost work. Felitti (2003) says, “Addiction is primarily a consequence of adverse childhood experiences… best viewed as …the compulsive use of… [mood-altering behaviors] in response to abnormal prior life experiences [ongoing effects of old trauma], most of which are concealed by shame, secrecy, & social taboo. Hunter (2018) states, ‘“mental illness” generally is, in fact, a unique constellation of understandable and adaptive reactions to overwhelming and unbearable experiences.” This presentation provides a conceptual framework that helps people make sense of struggle, de-pathologizes survival efforts, and guides the healing process in a way that makes their suffering count.

Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the presentation’s metaphors and utilize them to help clients make sense of their struggle and shift their toxic shame to resiliency.
  2. After this presentation, participants will be able to construct a story timeline with clients that answers the question, “What makes this make sense?”
  3. Participants will be able to discuss the three core systems’ conceptual framework and give meaning to suffering and de-pathologizes survival attempts that became self-destructive. 


  1. Felitti, V. J., (2003). The origins of addiction: Evidence from the adverse childhood experiences study. Dept. of Preventive Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. 
  2. Frances, A. (2013). Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life. New York, Harper Collins. 
  3. Hunter, N. (2018). Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Mate, G., (2010). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. North Atlantic Books. 
  5. Van der Kolk, B., (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in The Healing of Trauma. New York, Penguin.

Adrian Hickmon, PhD


  • Founder, Clinical Architect - Capstone Treatment Center- AR, 2001-present


  • Ph.D. Marriage and Family Therapy, 1993, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • M.A. Substance Abuse Counseling, 1991, NE Louisiana University, Monroe, LA
  • M.Ed. 1979 Harding College, Searcy, AR.
  • B.A. Physical Education, 1977, Harding College, Searcy, AR.


  • LMFT (# M9710034) - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Arkansas
  • LPC (# P9307011) - Licensed Professional Counselor, Arkansas
  • LADAC (# 3821) - Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor


  • CSAT-S - Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist – Supervisor
  • CMAT-S - Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist
  • CTT - Certified Trauma Therapist 
  • AAMFT Clinical Member


  • American Association of Christian Counselors
  • International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy