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An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three)


Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 13.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,237

ISSN 2369-6885


An interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA. He discusses: tasks and responsibility in the service sector; some things never leaving; varied positions helping with work professional/career capacities; the most meaningful experiences; tasks and responsibilities with work at Edgewood Health Network and Edgewood Vancouver Addiction Services; mirrored experiences with actors; Stanislovsky and transference; Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran and the mirror neuron system; Motivated to Change but Not Ready for Residential Inpatient; report on the discussion for parenting and substance use; the problem of laws becoming principles; kids mirroring guardians; sister as teetotaller; status of father and mother; Richard Pryor on beatings; and verboten subject matter and social suicide.

Keywords: addiction, Burger King, Edgewood Health Network, Patrick Zierten, Richard Pryor, The Orchard Recovery Centre.

An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA: Program Coordinator, Edgewood Health Clinics; Ex-National Executive Director, Edgewood Health Clinics Network (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

27. You have been the area manager at Burger King Corporation from 1970 – 1986, market manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken from 1987 to 1995, addictions counsellor at Open Door to Learning and Living from 1997 to 2001, program manager/counsellor at TWC from 2001-2003, and the executive director at The Orchard Recovery and Treatment Center from March, 2003 to January, 2007.[5] In brief, what tasks and responsibilities came with these stations from the service sector with respect to food to the counselling sector?

They were all business skills. Once you get the basic premise of how to make money, it’s pretty applicable in anything that you do. I was building a career and a family. It was extremely important to me to accomplish those things. So, staying in a career allowed me to make more money, I get into recovery and money & success is not a big deal anymore. I go to university and did not have a nickel to my name, and I borrowed a bunch of student loans. I started as a counsellor, and the skills were basically being a human being. I’m just one human being with another human with similar experience, and I can help them navigate the hell they’re going through.

I was a counsellor at the Orchard. I then went to another place because I wanted to work with guys on the street. I went back to the Orchard and was their executive director. Now, I am getting back into the business side. It is starting to slowly creep back in. Finally, I started work for Edgewood 8 years ago.

28. It does. Two things come to mind for me. One thing of particular note. You are in the present. You have a high level of emotional intelligence in terms of one-to-one interaction. Second thing is, as you noted at the outset of the interview, with respect to becoming more and more Canadian as time has gone on, and with being “old,” there’s a sense in which, as with that rugged American individualism, some things never leave. But I think these can be attenuated or used in a positive way.

Yea, yea! I’m not denying that’s still not a part of me. It’s in there. It’s been mellowed a little bit. Why is it mellow? Is it because of Canada? Is it because of my recovery? Is it because of my getting old? It is probably all of those things. Is it because I have a better relationship with my family? I don’t know.

29. How did these varied positions over decades serve subsequent professional/career capacities? How is this beneficial one into the next? One position was food service sector. The next was food service sector. The rest were counselling and managing.

How did these varied positions over decades serve subsequent professional/career capacities? You’re challenging me.

Well, as life goes on with anything you do, you become more knowledgeable of the particular industry that you’re in and you get better at it or understanding the nuances of it better, and you become a lot more proactive than reactive. That probably served me well in my business and career. You almost have to look at my life as two different lives. There’s the business life, and this recovery life.

What I learned with counselling is more about myself through my experience with others, I couldn’t know the things I know about myself unless I was in relationship with another human being. I need something to bounce back me. When I’m in the relationships with people, I get a sense of who I am. I begin to understand what I like, what I don’t like, how I function in certain situations, how I don’t function in certain situations, what makes me anxious, what makes me happy, where before I was not that reflective.

That was not my intention in entering the counselling field. It just happened. By understanding me, by knowing how I tick, I am able to help others in discovering who they are also. That really at the end of the day is what therapy is about – getting another person to understand who they are and what they stand for so that can start taking positions in their life.

31. It does answer it. In fact, I remember something from another interview with the Grand Secretary of the Alberta Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Freemasons, Jerry W. Kopp. To preface with freemasonry’s organizational structure in Canada, you have the basic lodge, the districts of lodges, and the grand lodge for the lodges and districts. In British Columbia, it’s the British Columbia & Yukon Grand Lodge.

I managed an interview with the Grand Secretary. He said something to the effect that in their tradition: “Man know thyself.” Something relevant to your interest in the Greeks. I clued into the ancient Greeks, which goes into the Milesian school of the pre-Socratics. Thales thought the world was made of water. Of course, he lived by the Aegean Sea.

Yes, yes!

But the main one was “man know thyself” and that, more often than not, gets attributed to Socrates.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

That’s right. But I think this goes back to Thales, at least in the Western tradition. 40,000 years ago, we had the aboriginal dreamtime narratives. The philosophical histories differ, sometimes overlap, and continue into the present.

What were the most meaningful experiences for you?

It is so interesting in my addiction life, events that should have been extremely meaningful aren’t. I don’t think I experienced them in their totality. My children were extremely meaningful experiences for me. But I think, if I weren’t drinking, would it have been much better? It’s not about the drinking. It’s about the ignorance that I lived in. I think it’s part of the reason for my drinking. I couldn’t see things. I couldn’t feel things the way other people feel them.

I think the drinking was an offshoot to manage that. Why at 16 did I choose to stand up to my dad? That’s a meaningful experience. Leaving to Florida, that was a meaningful experience for me. I’ve had 43 addresses in my life. Each of those were meaningful events, but I don’t think they had the impact. If they had the significant impact that they should have had, I think I probably would have done things differently. Of course, the most meaningful impact was when I got sober. I experienced things at a level that I had never experienced events in the past. The little things that became much more meaningful for me, not the births of my children, but the fact that I was celebrating my 43rd birthday. I got excited. It had a lot more impact than any of my birthdays before, going back to university. It was nothing like when I went to Queen’s. There was not joy in Queen’s.

But going to Regent (UBC), it was so much fun! I was a little kid. I was experiencing life. I was learning things that I should have been learning in kindergarten. That’s really meaningful events. Only really meaningful events have occurred for me in my recovery. I ignore other stuff.

32. Now, you are the program director at Edgewood Vancouver Addition Services from March, 2007 to the present, and the national director for Edgewood Health Network from September, 2014 to a recent time, which ended.[6] Without breach of confidentiality or dissemination of sensitive information – I have to be sensitive this, especially with 5 certifications in ethics such as TCPS 2 – what tasks and responsibilities come with the station(s)?

Of course, as I mentioned to you before, I am no longer the national director of EHN Clinics. I am just the program director, but what I am responsible for is the business and the day-to-day administration in this operation, unlocking the doors in the morning, and locking the doors at night, and keeping it financially viable. I am not into making a ton of money here. I am just trying to keep the doors open. Probably, the most important thing is working with the counsellors here and working with the other people, and how do I mentor them, and keep them motivated, and keep them excited about what they do, along with managing their self-care.

Because we hear a lot of horrible stories. One thing that happens, I recognized with therapists, the traumas re-occur with living in the individual’s narrative by hearing the horrible stories. So, managing self-care is big. The other big piece is my own clinical experience with the individuals like how do I interact, what programming do we need to develop with these people along their journey, what program should we be running, and that’s probably my main thing right now.

I guess to keep the essence or the spirit alive in the office. That’s really my primary duty. How do I keep the essence or the spirit alive in the office?

You mentioned something interesting about reliving experience. Is this the view of the counsellors themselves, the patients, or both?

Many of us come into this field because many of us are trying to heal ourselves. It is the wounded healer syndrome. When I hear some stories, if I’m not well-integrated in myself, you can re-activate some of your own trauma by hearing someone else’s trauma. That happens with younger counsellors.

Another thing is transference happens. Well, maybe it shouldn’t. But, it does. It does happen. It is not that transference is bad. It is only bad when transference activates the counsellor to where they’re doing more work than the client is.

33. I wonder if that mirrors some for the experiences of actors.

Help me understand what you mean there, I think I get you.

34. The use of Stanislovsky, or some well-known, well-used, and full of principles and practices acting technique that an actor or actress pursues, practices, and puts into play in some major role. But then, say it’s some horrible role, that apparently is very popular now. They act it out. They then begin to have nightmares as if they are that horrible person. There might be a transference there.

Yea, yea, yea.

35. It might have to do with the mirror neuron system – seeing someone else. Some studies show this. There’s two people. One drinker and one observer. You, the other person, take a cup and sip from the cup. The other person observes this action. Your motor neurons coordinate this action. The observer’s mirror neurons, about 1/3 of them, will fire in response to this observation as if they are you. They are in you, and you are in them, about 1/3rd. It is mirroring oneself in another. Professor Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran argues for, or proposes as a hypothesis, this as the foundation for civilization. The in-one-lifetime transfer of knowledge and expertise for adaptive survival and reproductive success compared to the evolution of characteristics through standard natural selection, environmental pressure, and sufficiently large reproduction over many, many generations.

Jeremy Siegel, he’s a psychologist who talks about attachment theory. He talks about the same thing you’re talking about de Waal who research is on bonobos. He’s probably a primatologist. He’s talking about why there’s altruism in humans, right? It is Darwinian. Anyway, we’re going on tangents.

36. In the September 1, 2011 publication of Edgewood News – that is, Volume 6, Issue 3, Summer/Fall 2011, you wrote an article entitled Motivated to Change but Not Ready for Residential Inpatient, which divided into commitment, motivation, and relapse prevention.[7] Where does this statement about process stand now – around 5 years into its future?

The article where I talked about intensive outpatient programming, which talked about who would be a viable intensive outpatient rather than an intensive inpatient. And the three things that you would look at. The first thing you look at is someone’s commitment for staying sober. His level of motivation, which is very similar to commitment. And something similar to commitment is excitement to it, especially as potential relapse prevention criteria.

I wanted to ask because processes for various techniques can be updated often, and the DSM can be updated…

 …once every ten years or so…

…it seems like every week!



Not quite that much, but there is controversy around the applicability of the DSM-5 or the DSM-4 diagnosis.

37. You took part in a panel on substance abuse, in 2005, with “Sally Hamel…Constable Mark Fulton… Corporal Rich DeJong…[and] Ben Tamblyn.”[8]  In a report in line with the same discussion, Media Awareness Project reported you, as the program director at the Orchard Retreat Centre at the time, stating that 8/10 clients seen by the Orchard Retreat Centre “came from homes that advocated the use of drugs, including alcohol.”[9]  According to the same report, and even further, they wrote:

If we talk about zero drug tolerance, said Zierten, but we do it while we are pouring ourselves a cocktail, what kind of statement are we making?… While communication, coupled with education, are steps towards prevention, agreed Zierten, he also advocated stronger parenting measures, stricter discipline and the use of “tough love” techniques by caregivers. What results came from this discussion?[10] 

Where does the discussion reside now?

When you quoted this, I thought, “Man, you do thorough research, holy smokes!”

Thank you, that makes me happy.

Well, it starts in the context of the parental home. Well, if the parental home is allowing you to smoke cannabis on the back porch when it is still an illicit drug, or allow you to drink alcohol under age, you’re telling them that taking something illegal is okay. I’m not denying the fact that they’re going to go off and do it. That’s just being a teenager. That’s just what we do. But to actually facilitate and condone the behaviour sends out a terrible message to the individual because what it does is it says that it’s okay to be dishonest in some situations.

At least when they sneak around the parents and drink behind closed doors, they know they’re sneaking. They know they’re doing something dishonest, but now we change that whole culture. That whole context and say it’s not really cheating. I condone this. Even though the laws say you shouldn’t, we as the family unit say you can do it.

38. It tacitly and explicitly states laws are more loose principles, rules of thumb, or relative.

Relative! Relative to situation, what applies to others might not necessarily apply to us. That is my argument. A guy is having a drink and pouring a big tall martini or something is trying to tell the kid not to drink. Your best solution is to abstain. I’m just trying to explain that what kind of messages do you want to send to your kids.

A good message is to say, “Don’t drink!” That’s a great message to say. Why is drinking so important in culture? There are many cultures that don’t drink. Sometimes, they’re forced by religious doctrine, or where alcohol is not considered that important of a social mechanism as it is in Western culture, but here we got to have a drink.

If you want to get your children to think about substances differently, then act differently, don’t have a drink every night when you come home from work. Maybe, at social events and Christmas and weekends, when you’re out with friends or something, I wonder how much when my dad was telling me not to drink and was pouring himself his vodka gimlet, every night when he came home from work. As a matter of fact, everybody in the whole neighbourhood was drinking. It was the 1950s, right? It was when drinking at work was two or three martinis was the way to go. How did that influence? Did that give me the go-ahead to try earlier. I don’t know. What is worse now, hole smokes, these parents now no longer drink alcohol but smoke dope with their kids.

Now, I don’t know – you hear stories of them doing crystal meth, and heroine, and cocaine with their kids, and those are horrifying. I am not against legalization of cannabis. It is going to happen. It should be legalized. But realize that cannabis, it is not a benign drug. There is no such thing as a benign drug. I think there needs to be some regulation around it. Don’t do things that you don’t want your kids to do. You look like a hypocrite, otherwise.

39. Kids are mirrors. Kids look to authorities. Their guardians, intuitively. They build their behaviour patterns off that. I think that’s right in line with what you’re saying.

Kids do one of a couple things. They do exactly what we do over time, or they do the exact opposite. Kids seldom do what we say, but often do what we do. When I think about my reaction in my family system, I have two brothers who are alcoholics, and my sister is totally abstinent. And all of those are in reaction to my father. Three of us joined him. My sister said, “I’m never picking up a drink because of that.”

40. Your sister became the teetotaller.

She’s the teetotaller, absolutely. Unfortunately, she struggles with an eating disorder. So, the anxiety lives within our family system, and is still prevalent in her. She is just managing it through her eating patterns rather than her drinking patterns.

41. Something that seems important for this narrative. One sub-narrative to this metanarrative. What is the status of your mother and father at this point in time?

They’re dead. Dad died when I was in my thirties. And we were estranged. He died of his disease. He managed to get some clean time here and there, but at the end of his life, he ended up with a brain tumor. He got lung cancer too. Smoking addiction killed him. The morphine got him. He started drinking again. Technically, on his death certificate, it says he died of lung cancer and brain cancer, but in reality his addiction, if it didn’t cause it, it definitely exacerbated it.

My mom died – 16-year dead. She died of a heart attack very suddenly. But the wonderful thing was that I was in sobriety at this point, and she felt very good that I was sober. I think that I was her favorite. And she knew that my life was really a mess. We had a lovely reconciliation.

I noticed I was trying to forgive my dad. I realized that, “Oh my goodness, I am getting very angry and resentful with my mother.” I realized that she abandoned me when I was 8 years old when dad was beating me. “Where were you mom?” We had a lengthy conversation about that. She started crying, and she felt terrible. She said, “I was terrified of your father.” When she said that, there was immediately forgiveness. Because I had understood the terror he had created. I understand why she’s paralyzed. It suddenly made everything okay.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to talk to my dad, and I don’t know to this day if I’ve really, truly forgiven him, and I don’t know if you can tell unless I see him eyeball to eyeball. But the mere fact that I refer to him as my father is indicative of where I am on that continuum. If you were to ask me 20 years ago, I would have said, “That son of a bitch.” That would have been the first thing, and there would have been anger there. That answers that question.

42. The story you told me about your mother being in terror, and the beatings that you suffered. It reminds me of a Richard Pryor clip or scene he paints, say, where he describes that his father used to beat him, and his mother used to cry out, ‘It hurts me more than it hurts you.’ And he thought of replying, ‘Then let him beat your ass?!’


Yea! That’s the thing. Comedians can put things like that, terrible instances like that, and make it funny, but that’s it. Poor mom, I felt sad for her. She didn’t plan her life to be that way. That’s for darned sure. She didn’t know she was marrying a guy that was going to be an alcoholic. They were madly in love at one point. They had dreams and hopes and desires. My dad’s drinking was not bad when I was first born. She just couldn’t get out of it. She was Catholic on top of it. So, she couldn’t leave. Catholics are stupid like that. We hang in there.

43. If you leave, the community is so deep, and I think this is generally true, if you are deeply involved in a community, and if you leave the community or do something verboten, whether by behaviour or word in that community, if it’s by word in that community it’s blaspheming the Holy Spirit, or if behaviour such as divorce, it’s social suicide, family and friends.

It’s the need to belong. We need to belong to something. We will risk terrible, terrible harm to ourselves just to say we belong.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Program Coordinator, Edgewood Health Clinics; Ex-National Executive Director, Edgewood Health Clinics Network.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2017 at; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2017 at

[3] MA (1997-2002), Theology, The University of British Columbia; EMBA (1990-1991), Queen’s University.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA.

[5] LinkedIn. (2016). patrick zierten. Retrieved from

[6] LinkedIn. (2016). patrick zierten. Retrieved from

[7] Zierten, P. (2011, September 1). Motivated to Change but Not Ready for Residential Inpatient. Retrieved from  

[8] Media Awareness Project. (2016). Drug Forum A Success. Retrieved from

[9] The Rave. (2005, November 11). CN BC: Community Discussion Focuses On Drug-Use Prevention. Retrieved from

[10] The Rave. (2005, November 11). CN BC: Community Discussion Focuses On Drug-Use Prevention. Retrieved from


Edgewood Health Network Inc. (2016). Edgewood Health Network Inc. Retrieved from

Jack Hirose & Associates, Inc. (2016). Patrick Zierten, EMBA, M.A.. Retrieved from

LinkedIn. (2016). patrick zierten. Retrieved from

Media Awareness Project. (2016). Drug Forum A Success. Retrieved from

Mirus Rehabilitation Care Centre. (2016). Meet the North York Team. Retrieved from

The Bible: New International Version. (2017). Matthew 7:12. Retrieved from

The Globe and Mail. (2013, September 24). John Cleese explains why he loves Canada. Retrieved from

The Rave. (2005, November 11). CN BC: Community Discussion Focuses On Drug-Use Prevention. Retrieved from

Zierten, P. (2012). EDGEWOOD Alumni INSITE in Vancouver. Retrieved from

Zierten, P. (2011, September 1). Motivated to Change but Not Ready for Residential Inpatient. Retrieved from

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three) [Online].April 2017; 13(A). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, April 15). An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three)Retrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A, April. 2017. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 13.A (April 2017).

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 13.A.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 13.A (2017):April. 2017. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Patrick Zierten, EMBA, MA (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, April; 13(A). Available from:

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Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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