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Alex Shohet & Berni Fried: Two uniquely differing minds come together to create innovative, holistic solutions and improve treatment outcomes at Red Door Life Addiction and Trauma Healing Center

Updated: Apr 8

Red Door Life is a uniquely innovative trauma and substance abuse recovery center in Los Angeles specializing in working with creatives and entrepreneurs in crisis or who are looking to take their life to the next level of fulfillment. One of the many things that sets Red Door Life apart is the significance placed on unpathologizing- seeing each client as a human being who has been affected by many aspects of life- not as a bundle of symptoms and labels. From this compassionate view, and the continual drive to improve recovery outcomes, comes their exclusive model of care The 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness. This integral methodology defies ineffective yet broadly accepted mainstream treatment models and brings a fresh innovative approach to recovery. We would like to share with you how our co-founders Alex Shohet and Berni Fried came together to create this distinctive treatment center and its unique methodology.

The story of this collaboration in recovery between Alex Shohet and Berni Fried began in 2002, when Berni Fried, LMFT, was working in private practice. She has always worked with a special and fragile population- Hollywood’s creatives and entrepreneurs. Those with tremendous potential for extraordinary lives, but all too often afflicted by complex trauma and severe substance abuse struggles.

Many things set Berni apart from other therapists, one is her belief in transformation. Because of this belief, she has spent her career advancing her learning- looking deeply beyond the surface symptoms to understand the true cause of dysregulation that results in states of trauma, mental health, and substance abuse issues. She continually learns and evaluates new therapeutic methods to determine how they are working in one’s system and how they can be implemented, supplemented, or improved. Her multidimensional approach establishes her at the forefront with other thought leaders in trauma healing and the relatively small class of those doing cutting-edge trauma healing work, such as PSIP.

The bedrock beneath all the different methods she draws from in partnering with a client on their healing journey is that of an attachment-based focus. Addressing the limiting and often traumatizing effects of negative early attachment experiences and strengthening the capacity for secure relationships and adaptive actions in the world is critical to foundational change.

These aspects- this willingness to look deeper and see what her clients truly need, coupled with her attachment focus, helped pave the way for the formation of Red Door Life. At times when dealing with overwhelming challenges or with deeper material, it became obvious a client would benefit from more support than one therapist could provide. A multidisciplinary team and wrap-around support that could only be provided by inpatient care was needed.

Berni has always felt strongly that this type of work involves a dissolution of ego- working with clients is not about being “the one to save them”- it is about supporting them in all the ways needed so that their system can settle down and their innate inner healer ( inherent in all human beings) can begin to rise. Our system naturally seeks balance and regulation but often needs special conditions in order for that process to unfold. All too often these conditions cannot be found in one’s normal life- the safety and support of inpatient care is needed.

Unfortunately, the only option at the time was to send a client away to a treatment center- which was in essence a black box. Berni would be disconnected from the client, minimally informed, and not allowed to be a part of the treatment. This would create a complete rupture in the rapport and the therapeutic journey she had been on with clients for months- or even years. Treatment centers traditionally restrict and cut clients off from the outside world, never embracing their existing therapist. There was an implied attitude that if the therapist had been doing their job, the client would not need the treatment center. In moderate to severe acuity cases, this is simply not reality.

As most substance abuse and trauma and is rooted in attachment wounding, this sudden separation from the therapist and the continuity of their work together creates another rupture, another injury they must overcome. It can be traumatic for a client to have to explain their history all over again and adjust to a new treatment team. It is also wastefully time-consuming for the new team to learn enough about the client to begin treating them, beyond medicating away their symptoms. It also makes it unnecessarily difficult to transition out of inpatient care ( a time that is already difficult) because now the client not only loses the support team they had come to rely on in the treatment center but must reestablish the rapport- spending unnecessary time to recalibrate and re attune, with their therapist.

The questions seemed so obvious: Why? Do we have to separate clients from their trusted practitioners for inpatient treatment to be effective? How does this benefit the client?

And so at the same time as he was observing her frustrations over this method, Alex Shohet- her husband and also an experienced tech entrepreneur, was discovering his own path of incorporating his passion for entrepreneurship into improving recovery outcomes. As a result in 2002, Alex created the first business plan and then went on to secure the first residential inpatient property and used his background in entrepreneurship to do all the groundwork to get the business established.

It was during this time that the true magic of this collaboration between Alex Shohet & Berni Fried began to come to light. This collaboration is truly more profound than just a partner on the business side and a partner on the therapy side. They are two very different brains sharing the same passions: innovation and advancement in healing, transforming lives, improving recovery outcomes, and unpathologizing (viewing a person as a whole- not simply their symptoms and labels).

Despite their shared passions, Alex and Berni have two very different brains. This contrast and juxtaposition creates magic that benefits Red Door Life clients in profound ways. Simply put, Alex is a thinker and Berni is a feeler. Alex is completely cognitive in the way he interprets and distills information whereas Berni attunes to the often seemingly imperceptible signals arising in one’s nervous system. In therapeutic terms, this is considered a top-down and a bottom-up approach. What is interesting is that despite these very different ways of processing what they are looking at, they often arrive at the same conclusion about what a client is struggling with under the surface of their presenting symptoms. Because they have different backgrounds, different lenses, and completely opposite ways of distilling information- together, they are able to bring more holistic solutions to their clients. Alex focuses on entrepreneurship, restoring hope of a bright future, and reestablishing healthy balance and circumstances in many aspects of the client’s life through The 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness, while Berni works with the deeply encoded patterns and conditioning within one’s nervous system and the subtle energies that rise in disruptive ways as established through the brilliant work of IFS, Internal Family Systems by Richard Schwartz.

Many clients are more cerebrally wired, these clients benefit greatly from Alex’s guidance and logical, linear ways of processing recovery and the steps to achieving life fulfillment. By the same token, many clients are wired more like Berni, with a stronger feeling sense than the ability to mentalize. They may have sensory experience of being in a body that is not easy to describe or understand and these are the clients who connect deeper with Berni.

Both methods are critical to healing as they create balance. As an overly cognitive person begins to become more attuned with their felt sense and conversely a person with a stronger felt sense learns to process more cognitively, they develop greater insight, balance, and resiliency resulting in more autonomy over their reactions. The ability to regulate one’s reactions- emotions, thoughts, and behavior, is the foundation of post-traumatic growth and recovery from substance abuse.

For anyone who has been in therapy for more than just temporary or superficial issues, we know there is no singular fix- the more lenses and modalities brought into the equation, the more likely solution and resolution. We are so incredibly fortunate for this collaboration between Alex Shohet and Berni Fried, two thought leaders in the industry of mental health and substance abuse recovery. It is their unique minds, varied lenses, and contrasting approaches that create the foundation of all the Red Door Life represents, bringing so much more dimension to the trauma healing and addiction recovery process.

Red Door Life is a Los Angeles, CA substance abuse treatment, recovery, detox, addiction & trauma healing center also featuring companion services, entrepreneurship empowerment, community & education.



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