Speaker 1 (00:00:00) - Yo, yo, yo. What's going on, guys? It's Sathiya Sam here. Welcome to Unleash the Man Within. I'm so glad you guys are here today. I am sitting down with Michael Leahy, founder of Bravehearts. And let me just give you a quick rundown of who this guy is. This man has 28 years of successful personal recovery and sexual sobriety under his belt after years of affairs and adultery and really a full, full blown sex addiction. He has 22 years of full time ministry helping sex addicts and betrayed partners. He is a leader in developing and applying technology based tools for recovery. And he also has pioneered the field of professional mentoring about 13 years ago. This guy's been on 2020 Good Morning America. Pretty much every major platform you can imagine. And he even used to do porn debates with Ron Jeremy, who for a certain season was one of the most well known porn stars, if not the most well known porn star in the world. So this guy has incredible professional acumen.
Speaker 1 (00:01:05) - And we brought him on today to talk a little bit about the importance of mentors in the recovery process. He's really big on converting people like yourselves who want to recover into coaches and mentors and people who want to make a sustainable living doing this. And so we talk a little bit about that, if that's something you're interested in. And then we also talked about what has been required for him to be free for 28 flippin years. I mean, that's amazing. I feel pretty proud of myself for being at about seven and a half. And then you hear about somebody who's been free four times as long as you have, and it really puts things in perspective. So this guy's a legend. It was such an honor to have him on the show. And I know you're going to learn a lot. Without further ado, guys, this is my interview with Michael Lahey. Enjoy. So here's the million dollar question. How are men like us who work hard have good motives and a God given purpose supposed to fulfill the calling on our lives and the dreams in our hearts, all while establishing sexual integrity, thriving relationships, and a meaningful connection with God.
Speaker 1 (00:02:12) - That is the question. And this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Sasha Sam. Welcome to Unleash the Man Within. All right. Well, I'm here with Michael Leahy, and I've been waiting a long time to to finally sit face to face with you. I know this is virtual, but it's still we're both sitting and we're both face to face. And you've pioneered so much in this space. I just can't thank you enough for being here, Michael. Well, thanks for having me.
Speaker 2 (00:02:42) - It's it's a long time coming. I've heard a lot about you as well, so thanks for all the work you're doing.
Speaker 1 (00:02:46) - Yeah. Yeah. So I have to ask. I like asking this of people like yourself. You know, we've had Ronda Haas, founder of Covenant Eyes. Jonathan Doherty, sorry, Doherty, who started, I think in 2005, you guys all pioneered something in the kind of sex and porn addiction recovery space in a digital form, you know, before it would really had become established.
Speaker 1 (00:03:08) - And I'm wondering what what inspired you to do it because if I'm recalling correctly, you started in oh two, oh three, somewhere in that area where this was not like a cool thing to do. What was it that kind of drew you into being in this space in the first place at a time like that?
Speaker 2 (00:03:25) - You know, I think it's probably the same thing that drew you. I mean, it's our story, right? We went through extreme loss. I lost a marriage of 15 years. A family of two boys had to rebuild those relationships over time. And so you just naturally kind of want to give back at some point in time. But also it was recognizing how great of a need there was out there for people who were struggling like us, to learn from those who have been, you know, down that path before them. I kind of like to I've had some people actually mentioned that myself and Jonathan and others are kind of this second wave, if you will. The first wave was Patrick Carnes and Mark Lazar and Harry Schomberg and Ted Roberts and all these guys.
Speaker 2 (00:04:15) - And I remember someone coming up to me at a conference back in 2016 and they said, you know, a lot of these guys market, he wasn't able to attend. He passed away, I think a year or two later, you know, Ted Roberts has been really struggling with with mental illness, mental health care issues and stuff. So some of those guys have been benched and we're kind of the next ones. But this is what's so exciting about this to me is seeing someone like you, you're like, we're ready to pass the baton on. You know, I'm 65 this year, so I'm going to do this for as long as I can. Fortunately, I came out of the technology industry, so I know that Jonathan also pioneered some phone based, teleconferencing based recovery groups. We were kind of the first one out of the blocks on that as well. And so kind of our generation of leaders understood the application of technology and we started leveraging that and we continue to do that as well. But you guys are like the world's your oyster, you know? So it's really exciting to see that.
Speaker 1 (00:05:13) - Yeah, it definitely feels that way. But I'm so aware that we're standing on the shoulders of people like you, and I'm very grateful. I know you you added an extra branch to what you're doing about eight, nine years ago, which was to raise up other mentors to to coach them, to certify them, and then to be able to release them to duplicate more or less what it is that you're doing or what you had done prior. Talk a little bit about that because did you just get bored helping people get free and you wanted to multiply the efforts or what? What inspired that?
Speaker 2 (00:05:43) - You know, it was just the opposite, actually. I had spent like a lot of us who were leaders in this space, you know, between 2000 and 2 and about 2012, there was still such a lack of awareness and just basic education. So about this issue and about recovery. And so I was spending most of my time, I'd written five books, I'd travel, I've been traveling all over the world, did a lot of evangelism outreach events with Campus Crusade, now known as CRU, but and spoke in a lot of conferences and churches and things.
Speaker 2 (00:06:16) - So I was kind of a mouthpiece for this, did a lot of media, did some important debates with Ron Jeremy, things like that. Yeah, yeah. And so I was at there speaking on this. And you know, when you're flying over this and I'm sure you've done this before and some of your speaking events where, you know you're at about the 40,000 foot level and what do you have? But you have people come up to you afterwards and thank you for sharing your story. And that's my story. And and then invariably it's the question of can you help me? Yeah. And it's really hard when when you're doing an awareness and education campaign or that's, you know, the calling that you have at the time. You just don't have enough time to be able to slow down and go, Yeah, let's meet once a week. And, you know, I'll walk you through what I've learned and mentor you or what have you. So that was the mode that I was in for about ten years, but it wasn't until 2012.
Speaker 2 (00:07:06) - That. Quite honestly, everything kind of slowed down for me. I had gotten remarried. My wife was in the Army. We moved from Atlanta to northern Virginia. She served in the old guard there. So I was kind of away from my support system. And and, you know, the the books were already written. The interviews were kind of slowing down a little bit. The speaking events were slowing down. But what never slowed down was guys coming to me asking for help. Right? And I was amazed living in the Fairfax and Northern Virginia area that guys were still coming to me saying, I can't find a good counselor or a therapist. I can't find a recovery group. And I'm like millions of people around here, you know, it's like, how can we not find that? Yeah, but that was really the case and God just impressed upon me. I saw a really powerful message called One Not Everyone by Andy Stanley, who was the pastor of my former church that I'd attended when I lived in Atlanta.
Speaker 2 (00:08:00) - And it was this idea that you may not be able to help everyone, but you can at least help one person. And I thought, well, I can do more than that because I do this for a living. So maybe there's something here. And I started to I started to say yes to guys who were coming to me asking me for help. I thought, I can't say no. You know, I have time on my hands. I can at least start working with a few of them. And then it was a matter of, you know, what's the best way to help them? Because I didn't have any desire to go back to school and become a licensed counselor or, you know, to take that kind of a track. But I knew that. I knew what I knew, and I knew that the things that I knew about recovery of my own journey, you know, which has been now 26 some years or whatever, a personal recovery, you know, could really help people.
Speaker 2 (00:08:50) - So that's when I started to. It was really after the first guy that I mentored and did a horrible job of because I didn't have a curriculum, didn't have a plan. It was it was one of those, hey, can we just meet and have breakfast once a week? I'm sure you've had those before. And they just kind of they just kind of want to heal through osmosis, right? Yeah. But there really needs to be more intentionality. I know that you have you have a very, you know, robust coaching practice. And I'm sure you take guys through, you kind of know where they're at based on interviewing him, talking to him and then, you know, kind of what you need to take them through. It's a knowledge transfer. Yeah. So that's what I started doing. And after the first couple of guys, I thought, you know, I really like doing this. I mean, I love it because you get a front row seat at, you know, life change.
Speaker 2 (00:09:37) - You really you get to go deep and long with people. And I think that was Andy Stanley's, you know, message. Was that, you know, you can develop these longer lasting relationships and really impact change in someone's life when you invest in them and go deep and long. And that was the beginning of it. And then I started thinking, well, maybe there's a model here because I knew that there wasn't really anything remarkable about my story. In fact, I had a lot of people tell me I'm kind of the everyman because my story was very common to guys in my generation, just like I'm sure yours is to yours. Yeah. And so in in sharing that, a lot of people related to it and identified with it and I thought, you know, if I can walk someone through this and if I can if I can impact and maybe improve on the percentage of guys overall who were establishing long term sexual sobriety and going into getting good recovery going, then maybe I can train other people to do that because there's so many other guys with my with my type of story.
Speaker 2 (00:10:42) - And so that was really the beginning of what became our mentor training and certification program.
Speaker 1 (00:10:47) - That's really cool. And we've been huge benefactors of that. As you know, Shawn's our lead coach. Yeah, and he did your program several years ago and.
Speaker 2 (00:10:56) - They're fantastic couple. You are really blessed to have them there. They're the real deal. I love them. Yeah, Yeah.
Speaker 1 (00:11:03) - Oh yeah. It's really, really cool. So one thing I wanted to ask you, and this is part of why I know you've been so successful is you're very intentional with your language and you've purposely you're trying to do mentoring, not coaching, not counseling. Can you talk a little bit about what mentoring means to you and why you've been specific about that word choice?
Speaker 2 (00:11:22) - Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, it kind of comes down to semantics, I think because you have a story in this area and you have personal experience and success in establishing sobriety. I could look at you and say, Well, you're really a mentor.
Speaker 2 (00:11:35) - You know, you may say that you coach guys. So that's the semantic part of it. But there was really more intentionality. Behind choosing to develop a mentor program. I actually, when I started looking at this again, knew that I didn't want to go into counseling and just had no desire, no interest in that, but wanted to help folks. And so the natural place I went to look for training was life coaching, right? Because there's a lot of life, you know, life coaching had really kind of in the early 2000, started to take off and eventually there were, you know, the International Coaching Federation and certification programs and all that. So I went through CTE program started to very expensive and very comprehensive multi-year program. And they wrote a great book called Coach Active Coaching. And one of the and it's really kind of the basis for life coaching overall. But one of the things they stated made very clear is that your client really has all the resources and ability and and wherewithal to get from point A to point B to achieve what they want to achieve.
Speaker 2 (00:12:35) - You're really just kind of a sojourner with them. And, you know, they have the answers and so you're just kind of there to extract it. And they use this they use this terminology where they said, your clients are healthy, whole and resourceful. And I started thinking, wait a minute, there's a problem here because the people I want to mentor are anything but healthy, resourceful. And they may be resourceful, but they're not healthy and they're not whole and in and so everything about the the life coaching just kind of, you know, conflicted with that that reality. And I thought you know what they really what they need more than a coach is a mentor. They need someone that when they show up like my favorite call to get is a guy who calls up and says, hey, I'm calling from a hotel room. My wife kicked me out of the house. She's threatening divorce. I got a problem with porn. I have no idea what to do. And that's also the most typical call that I get.
Speaker 2 (00:13:34) - And so what they don't need is, well, you know, you know how you can get through this. And I'm just going to kind of, you know, go by the side and you're going to make the decisions along the way. Now you need like a Sherpa guide. You need someone who says, just hook on this rope. We're going to go to the the top of Mount Everest. You know, don't wander off into the ice fields or look over the crevasse and stuff. Just stay close to me and I'll take you there. And I think eventually those relationships do take on more of a coaching like partnership relationship. I get a guy that I've been mentoring for over ten years now and the first two years were really spent focusing on his recovery. But for the last eight years I've really been more of a spiritual mentor to him because that was an interest that he had long term. So I'm kind of a mentor, but I'm also now kind of in a coaching relationship. It you know, it can change, obviously, and I know that you're aware of that.
Speaker 2 (00:14:24) - But the thing that the thing that I really wanted to get hyper focused on and we have people that go through our mentor training who are counselors and therapists, people that don't have this as their story. But when it is when it is their story, you know as well as I do, they're you're you're basically a unrepentant addict's worst nightmare.
Speaker 1 (00:14:46) - Right? Yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:14:48) - Because you know all the tricks, you know, all the scenes, you know all the rationalizations, you know, which which really means you're the you're the person and the best position to be able to really help them if they want to get well. Yes. So to me, that's what I look for. I look for those men and those women. We have over half of the people, the students that we have go through our mentor training program, launch or mentoring ministry are women who want to mentor other women and help them deal with betrayal in a lot of cases, betrayal, trauma. But man, when you've been through that, there's there's kind of an unfair advantage you have because you're an insider.
Speaker 2 (00:15:27) - You know the deal, You know the gig. And and I think that's that's what we try to do is focus in on that not turning away anyone who just has a, you know, a proven interest in this. But for those, you know, like Shawn and like Helena, who they've been through this man, they got to you can't deny them what they know and their experience and their learned wisdom and and they become the most valuable people out there to be able to help folks who struggle.
Speaker 1 (00:15:56) - Yeah, 100%. The one thing I really liked because I saw that you were like, really intentional in using the word mentorship. And the one thing I really enjoyed about that is I think when you're a coach, it it really is only one direction. It's like, this is the coach and you're the client. But I think mentorship of mentorships done well. You end up raising up people who just naturally start to mentor others. And there's a great kind of multiplicity that happens in that. And you know, case in point, like the guy who you've been mentoring for eight years now is more of a spiritual mentor.
Speaker 1 (00:16:25) - I'm sure he's mentoring all kinds of people because of the mentorship he's received from you. And that happens very naturally in a mentorship kind of environment, right?
Speaker 2 (00:16:33) - Yeah, yeah. I mean, he's he's continues to do 12 step. He's been plugged into, say, for years. I started mentoring him back in like 2000. And I think 10 or 11 and he's a sponsor. He sponsors a bunch of guys and that's their version of mentor. So yeah, that's, you know, something I picked up from my friend Nate Larkin and Samson Society is I remember him saying once, you know, we believe that everyone needs help and everyone has helped to give. And so we've really adopted that as a big theme within Bravehearts as part of our hero's journey, this journey from recovery to redemption, that that recovery doesn't end with sobriety. It ends with redemption and just being sober and being healthy of your own accord, but not giving back or not paying it forward isn't really complete recovery. It's not complete healing.
Speaker 2 (00:17:24) - Because if you're really thoroughly changed from the inside out, you can't not want to help people. We just give them a vehicle, you know, kind of a methodology and an approach to be able to do that, especially if they want to be able to find out or figure out how to how to earn a living and how to actually do this and and get paid while helping others. So you don't have to go through the, you know, gosh, 2 to 3 years of of schooling to be a counselor and then another 2 to 3 years of supervision or you don't have to go through these expensive programs. We put people through a a pretty compact like about a three month training program because here's the deal. They already know what they know about recovery. So you don't really need to train them in that. Yeah, they just need to see what a kind of a business model is that will allow them to be able to either part time or full time be able to support their efforts. Because I've seen so many people that volunteer their way into this, but then they can get burned out.
Speaker 2 (00:18:23) - And and, you know, I don't think there's anything wrong with being able to show people, hey, you can still do some volunteering, but, you know, you can also earn some income along the way because your time is worth, you know, it has value to it.
Speaker 1 (00:18:35) - So yeah, and I really can't emphasize how valuable that is what you're providing because there's lots of ways to even get a certification or to hone your skills. But there's very few people who will teach the business side of of this, which is actually super important. If God's given you a vision and you really believe in what you're doing, you have to know the nuts and bolts to to get off the ground and to build something that's sustainable. And so, so that's incredible. And I really do value what you're doing. I wanted to ask you, Michael, you have been in recovery for a long time now, and you mentioned having to go through hell first to kind of get to this heaven that you're in now.
Speaker 1 (00:19:13) - Can you tell us a little bit about your story and what you're doing these days? I think it's been 28 years. If I did my research correctly, that's a long time. What what keeps you motivated at this at this point in the game? Or do you not need the motivation? Is it just kind of stuck in nature? I'd love to hear just kind of the the timeline and what you're up to these days that's helping you further your journey.
Speaker 2 (00:19:32) - Yeah, well, I mean, in a nutshell, my my story is I had a 30 year relationship with pornography that started when I was 11 years old, kind of average age for guys. You know, my generation. And over time, it escalated. It was always in secret. It escalated into what became a full blown affair that blew up. I was 13 years into my marriage and I was the unrepentant sex addict. I was the guy who got into recovery and was on his cell phone talking to his affair partner on the way into the meeting, you know, went through the meeting, cried alligator tears and all that stuff, and then came out and was back on the phone talking to his affair partner on the way to his car, you know, to to go home.
Speaker 2 (00:20:16) - I mean, I was a mess. And and so like most, you know, selfish, self-centered and compulsive line addicts, I, I had this mindset that I was going to, you know, have my cake and eat it, too, you know, stay married, keep the family, but still have the affair partner. And of course, that never works. So my world blew up and eventually I ended up getting divorced in 98. My relationship with my fair partner continued for about a year before that finally, you know, fizzled away, not unsurprisingly. And then I found myself in this really deep, dark place, very depressed, suicidal. I, you know, I just came to the end of myself and I hit rock bottom in 99, cried out to God, had been a Christian for most of my life, but cried out to God for help. And he was there. I mean, he he made it very clear. He said, Michael, you know, I've I've always been here.
Speaker 2 (00:21:16) - You're the one who left. And and so but I got involved in recovery while I was still in my affair, like I said. And I was faking it for two years. That's what cost me my marriage. So because of that failure and because of recognizing that, you know, this is something serious enough that I would consider taking my life, I was scared straight into recovery. And I started recovery in earnest in 99. Really like really working at heart. Started with an essay group, went through 12 step, eventually found a Christian counselor and really started, you know, just being intentional on a daily basis, set up some daily disciplines. You know, was, you know, making program calls every day. I mean, doing the same things that we tell guys to do today. So, you know, my journey from there going forward, the healthier I got, the more guys were coming to me and people and I wasn't looking for it. You know, I don't know about you.
Speaker 2 (00:22:12) - I mean, this was not part of my career plan. That was I was in the tech industry, right? I was a sales guy. And and so I had a good robust sales career. And but the more and more people that were coming to me looking for help, I knew that I could really help him. And it just felt like something turned in me in about 2001, 2002, and I felt like this was something that I was supposed to do for the rest of my life. So I took a big leap of faith, went into full time ministry in 2002 and and really have been doing it ever since. And fortunately, because I'm unlike most people my age, I'm I'm very comfortable with technology. I couldn't write a program to save my life. But I understand the applications of it. And my wife and I are we. She's a big fan of AppSumo. And, you know, we just look at all the different applications and things and tools and we're always looking for ways to deliver value to the people that we work with.
Speaker 2 (00:23:06) - We were kind of pioneers in the space of virtual summits about eight years ago. Yeah, you know, really drove hard on those. We've had subscription services that we provided. My wife and I are just digital marketing nerds, you know, the bottom line. And but we know that it can be really effective. And most people in the digital marketing space are out there to make money and to to get rich quick. And we've been to the conferences, you know, and digital marketer in San Diego and all that and seeing all the Lamborghinis and Maseratis pull up and everything, you know. But but we've been able to take the same tools and apply it in a way that we think is making this knowledge transfer easier for people to go through. Yeah, so that's really the essence of it. The first half of my 20 some years in full time ministry were spent, like I mentioned before, doing the education awareness deal. But the, the last part has been the and that in and of itself was pretty amazing to to be on you know ABC's 2020 and the view and our story where I appeared with my ex-wife at the time was highlighted in a lot of media and then traveling around and then doing the porn debates and everything like kind of a spokesperson for this area.
Speaker 2 (00:24:16) - Yeah, but, but really, you know, taking the deep dive with guys has brought me the most joy to take it even further. Training people, you know, like Sean, like Helena, to be mentors and to take their story and to leverage it for God's glory. Yeah. In whatever way that looks. My the first guy that I mentored who I turned down several times, it was because he was caught with child pornography and he was going to go he was going to prison for five years. Dang. And I remember saying, you know, he paid me to mentor him. And then, you know, I finally said, Listen, I'll continue mentoring you. I don't know what this is going to look like. I'm not going to charge you because you're going to be in prison. But let's figure it out. And we did. And we had weekly phone calls for about 12 minutes. And I was walking him through recovery material. And he just his goal was, I don't know what this is going to look like or be like.
Speaker 2 (00:25:12) - I just want to be as healthy as I can be. You know, when I go in and I say, Listen, I'll make you a deal. I'll mentor you for free for the next five years. If you promise me that you're going to do the hard work of recovery, you're going to stay straight and and that you'll be willing to look at maybe helping others when you get out. That was my first mentee. That was the first person in our pilot program that I worked with. And he's out there mentoring people now to this day, using the experience of there's thousands and thousands of men, sadly, who were incarcerated every year because of possession of child pornography. And so he's working with that particular niche that he knows better than myself or most people I know. That's what gets me excited. I mean, I love mentoring men. I love taking that front row seat, but then being able to train folks who just have this humility, this brokenness and this desire to pay it forward and give to others and also knowing how they can monetize it along the way.
Speaker 2 (00:26:10) - Yep, man, it just gets me excited. I had a guy who was a former pastor who came to me and went through the training and and he was just really passionate about helping other people is kind of at a crossroads in his career. But he had he had a decent paying job, but he just he didn't there's nothing nothing that excited him about it. You know, you just kind of dead man walking, if you will. Right. It's just a job. It's just a paycheck. But he said, wow, if I could do this. And within a year he was earning the equivalent of a six figure income. I mean, I remember when he called me up, it was or he texted me it was last. Actually, it was Last Man. He said, Next month my monthly income will exceed $100,000 a year run rate for the first time. And he'd only gone through the training. He started the training only a year before that. When I see stuff like that and also the fact that they're meeting a growing need, which is a whole nother thing of, you know, the huge, huge shortfall that we have of trained, experienced professionals being able to help folks in this area.
Speaker 2 (00:27:20) - I mean, we've got a major disaster on our hands. And we we could train another 5000 mentors and it wouldn't be enough. So we're really trying to play catch up here.
Speaker 1 (00:27:30) - Yeah, Yeah, I agree. And I don't think that that game of catch up is going to end anytime soon. Let me ask you, because you've obviously seen so you've raised up lots of leaders. You've worked with lots of people yourself. And I'm curious if the main issues that existed in 2002 when you were helping people, are they still more or less the same issues now as technology? Like to me, technology has been an amplifier for sure, but I feel like the core issues that we're really resolving, I feel like they're always going to be the same or very similar. I'm curious if you agree or if you observe something different or are the main problems that guys are facing in recovery the same now that they were 20 years ago?
Speaker 2 (00:28:13) - Ask a question. You know. The basics are still the basics. Yeah, The pathway to getting well is still, you know, and I learned this in working with the 100 plus mentors that I or the guys that I mentored, going through a five year pilot to create this, you know, create this this mentoring model, if you will.
Speaker 2 (00:28:36) - And they were all coming back to me and I was asking them what what made them most successful. And as much as I would love to have heard them say, well, you, Michael, you were just such a great mentor. I've never had anyone like you. But it wasn't. It was they said, you know, I figured out that I need to work on my recovery every day and I need to work on my connection with God every day. And so we actually called that we kind of nickname that the daily disciplines. And we actually have a product that we offer that that helps people on that course. I don't think that's changed. I think Patrick Carnes was talking about that in the mid 80s as he was starting to identify this as a this thing is a sexual addiction. I think that guys today I'm sure guys at your coaching and certainly when I'm mentoring folks you know I tell them the same thing you got to take this one day at a time. Thank goodness for 12 step, right? I mean, you know, a lot of those 12 step traditions have slogans, things like one Day at a time and and you're only as sick as your secrets and all that.
Speaker 2 (00:29:32) - The basics of getting well haven't changed. Now, the the, the environment that we're in has, you know, technology has really helped in terms of allowing us to create a lot of really great tools along the way. The virtual summit servers are an example. I know that you know certainly apps phone apps that help you and being able to have chat conversations, reaching out to guys easily to make program calls, you know, the courses and trainings, you're really plugged into that. So I think you understand what I'm saying. I hope your your listeners know that, you know, there are more resources than ever before for the men in particular, for the women, it's still lagging, but it's catching up. Yep. So the resources are now the technology is also being used against us, right, for for evil, if you will. And so, you know, the advent of virtual porn and what that's going to be like. And you know, I and it's involvement in just really creating a mess is is going to continue.
Speaker 2 (00:30:37) - The one thing that I've noticed that I think has gotten worse in his his changed exponentially faster than the pace of technology and the pace of tools and resources, which has been kind of on a constant. It follows the technology is just we have we we really have a broken system when it comes to training care providers in this area. It leaned way too heavily and been, I think, way too dependent on the traditional university system to train up counselors and to have licensed counselors and therapists and others that my wife actually was starting to go down that track and she pulled back and decided to to shift gears and get grad program grad school training as a spiritual director. It's a shorter program is something that we feel is a real need in this area. But the counseling training is just ridiculous. It's incredibly expensive. It's 2 to 3 years, then you have another two years plus of supervision. So you have someone that has a desire to help people, but it takes six years to get there. And quite frankly, when they get.
Speaker 1 (00:31:52) - That specialized at that point, yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:31:54) - The pay isn't that good, right? I mean, my guy who's making six figures a year, I mean, he was mentoring people while he was going through the training and getting paid and but it's just not possible for that. So you take that and you superimpose you take a look at the raw numbers. If you go look at Can's website where they have AI taps right? And they show all the trained sets, the certified sexual addiction therapists and and then the the trained trauma specialists. Right. These are people that have counseling backgrounds and, by the way, not knocking the counselors themselves. You know, they they have a desire to help people. It's just the system overall that they're plugged into is really, really broken. So you look at the group that has gone through specialized training like Csat training or like app sets, training for partners with betrayal trauma. You know, there's there's maybe 1200 specialists trained in the entire world right in the area of sexual addiction.
Speaker 2 (00:32:58) - Right. And it doesn't mean they're all good. By the way, I've heard plenty of, you know, just like you can get a good coach and a bad coach. Right. A good mentor and a bad mentor. Yeah. And and they're only about 800 women. Well, I shouldn't say women. There are 800 who are trained in betrayal trauma. Most of those are women, right? Yeah, but. 800. In the entire world. I mean, I did the math on that. And just just taking the statistics of 3 to 5% of the population, adult population being sexually addicted, which I still think is low. I think I think numbers higher than that. You're talking about one specialist for every 35,000 sex addicts. Jeez, one specialist for every 40,000 betrayed partners. Yeah. And I don't know if you've been talking to people lately about this, but what I'm hearing is folks that are looking for help, we have people reach out to us every day, multiple people every day looking for help, individuals, couples, partners.
Speaker 2 (00:33:58) - You know, they're telling me that I'm calling the therapist and they're telling me it's six months before they can even they can even return my phone call.
Speaker 1 (00:34:07) - Yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:34:08) - Now, when you go through D-Day and you're in a crisis, you're the guy sitting in that hotel room or you're the wife sitting there with kids at home and the husband, you don't know where he's at, but you've just discovered the affair or you've discovered the stash of, you know, porn or what have you. You're not going to wait around for six months. I mean, the marriage could be over by then. You know, your life could be shattered. People could be committing suicide by that. So this is what I'm talking about. And quite frankly, I've I've gotten, you know, tried to become real aware of groups like the Arc American Association of Christian Counselors and some of the other associations, you know, that work in that area. And what I see a lot of is, is specialists or counselors kind of bragging on the fact that they're fully booked, you know, kind of bragging on the fact that you couldn't get an appointment with me for six months.
Speaker 2 (00:34:58) - You know, it's like it's a badge of honor for them. You know, they're happy because they're full. But the problem is in the system that's set up that, by the way, on average is only delivering about a 2 to 3% success rate to begin with. You know, for people that are looking for help. But the system is really, really broken. And no one's, you know, there are very few people who are talking about that. That's the part that's the thing that keeps me up at night. Yeah. Is is a guy in my age and looking at, you know, maybe have ten, 15, good, strong years left, you know, where can we impact change? That's why I'm getting really laser beam focused on the mentor training and actually would love to be able to equip organizations like yours to be able to show you how to develop a mentor training program of your own so that we can create our own association. We need to get the multipliers going. Yeah, Putting another thousand mentors out on the streets in the next 4 or 5 years is only going to double.
Speaker 2 (00:35:56) - Okay. We cut that down from one and 35,000 to 1 in 17,000.
Speaker 1 (00:36:01) - Yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:36:01) - Yeah. It's still a big problem, right?
Speaker 1 (00:36:04) - Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's interesting. You kind of just articulated, like, my own journey. Like I was in my 9 to 5, not loving it, wanted to do something different and wanted to make better money. I was super underpaid at the time and my wife and I, the one night I was up late and we were looking at job postings and it was like, Oh, you know, there's some positions here for like a licensed counselor or a clinical psychologist that were actually paying pretty well. And then I looked and actually they wanted ten years of experience to to get that kind of salary. And I was kind of doing the math and the timeline. And, you know, we wanted to start a family eventually. And like, you just kind of seen us, like you're signing yourself up for just a decade of pure stress, you know, and some of your the best years of your life or some of the most energetic years of your life kind of getting sucked away by, like you said, a system that kind of doesn't doesn't seem to really have everything together.
Speaker 1 (00:36:52) - And so I really do admire what you're doing. And I, I respect it because I definitely see the need for it. Um, what is that? Do you think that it's as simple as that? Like, do you think if we just multiply enough leaders and get enough people helping that, that the tide begins to turn and people can get the help they need? Because I know you mentioned like you were really an advocate and a very public spokesperson. I feel like the attitudes around pornography have changed quite a bit. You know, it's become very normalized. And I know there's there's there's it's heavily contested, you know, even in academic fields, whether or not this is even a legitimate addiction. You and I obviously know the truth about that. But I'm curious what you think about kind of the the larger general population side of it. If we do our part to multiply leaders, what do you think needs to happen in more of the general population for for us to really see things change as a society?
Speaker 2 (00:37:48) - Yeah, that's a great question to answer.
Speaker 2 (00:37:52) - Part of that, no, I don't think training, you know, an army of mentors or coaches or what have you, and just impacting that part of it is going to be enough. I mean, there is a societal shift and it's been happening. It's been coming for a while. And I think part of that is, you know, part of that reflects the shift of morality in. In our country and in the world, really, and kind of away from, you know, considering this to be anything more than just a taboo, you know, like a religious construct. Yeah. And what have you. We've all heard before. So so it really comes down to a person's life just becoming unmanageable and becoming a mess and pointing to that as the problem and the individual getting help. But, you know, one of the areas and I know that you have listeners, some that are faith based and others that are kind of spiritually and resolved and what have having, that's totally fine. But one of the one of the things that I think is really hurting us is is in this area is not getting more support from the church.
Speaker 2 (00:39:00) - The churches can you know this really when it comes down to it I remember going through 12 step and being a Christian and looking at the 12 steps and going, wow, like seven of these 12 steps have to do with me and my relationship with.
Speaker 1 (00:39:13) - God straight out of the Bible.
Speaker 2 (00:39:14) - Yeah, this is pretty. Yeah, this is pretty. You know, it's nothing hidden here. And, you know, to me, I mean, this is the greatest opportunity for evangelism and for discipleship and spiritual formation. That's one of the reasons why Christine, my wife, is shifted her training over to, you know, spiritual direction is because that is a part that, you know, we need to we kind of did a little bit of a shift over towards really getting off on the science, you know, of the whole thing. Hey, there's, you know, brain chemistry that's affected and all that. And, you know, William Strothers, good friend, you talks a lot about it. Ted Roberts talks a lot about it.
Speaker 2 (00:39:57) - And quite frankly, it got a lot of attention. It's kind of like in the church talking about human trafficking. You know, it's kind of like the the soup du jour. You know, it's the same thing that people I mean, I hate to say it, but, you know, it just whatever is grabbing people's attention. And so but unfortunately, I think that shifted a lot of people away from like the spiritual roots of this and, you know, great people like Harry Schomburg, who wrote on this early on, Mark Lazar, of course, you know, had real influence in the area of faith based recovery. And then other people have have come along. Gerald Mayes, one of my all time favorites, Addiction and Grace, fantastic book. So, you know, when it really comes down to you can deal with the behavioral part of this but but when when you get to the point where it's like, okay, I need to deal with the spiritual, I need to deal with what's really in my soul.
Speaker 2 (00:40:49) - I wish that the churches understood this or were willing to really partner with us. I mean, there are a lot of starving ministries out there that are well, well intending that are have members of churches, you know, saying mean begging their pastors to help us reach people in this church. And I think that that the arrogance of church leadership to continue to ignore this issue. I think it's more arrogance than ignorance now. Yeah. Because there's no way that you can possibly go through life these days and not recognize this, especially as a Christian, not recognize this is a major issue. And especially if you're getting leadership training or it's just a monumental failure by seminaries to to not acknowledge it. But I mean, just think of the change that we could impact if every church said we need to have a mentor or a coach or someone that is a go to who's who really understands and gets this to be able to help the people in our congregation who are struggling with this in their kids. But there's just really never there's not been a partnership move towards that.
Speaker 2 (00:42:06) - I know my good friends at Covenant Eyes have talked about this for years. Yeah. And it's still, you know, God love him. It's still 7% of all the churches have any programs for people in recovery. And some people look at that and they'll go, Wow, that's great. That's a 93% market opportunity. You know, I look at that and go, why is it stayed 7% over the last 20 years?
Speaker 1 (00:42:28) - Yeah, Yeah.
Speaker 2 (00:42:29) - So I think that's a big thing. I'm not looking for the culture to change their mindset on this. Yeah, but I think if the church could see this as a real opportunity to bring people into a closer, abiding relationship with God, then maybe they would be more proactive. But, you know, you know as well as I do that this is also a problem a lot of leaders struggle with, and it's just hitting too close to home for a lot of some guys I'm I love and have a great relationship with. But you know, they're they're really intimidated by it and some are just outright struggling with it and aren't going to touch it.
Speaker 2 (00:43:06) - So that's that's that's troublesome. Any inroads we can make in that area I think will reverberate throughout and we'll start to see some real progress. In this area. Without that, it's going to be tough.
Speaker 1 (00:43:19) - Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I think that's a really very insightful perspective. And I do agree. What I want to kind of circle back to something I'd asked earlier. You've been you've been clean and kind of living in in this recovery for 28 years. Obviously, you and I know there's a professional component to our recovery. This is part of just putting yourself out there and being the one who spearheads it. But I'll be honest, like stain free for my company so that deep, clean can stay afloat and I can, you know, have integrity that way. I don't find that particularly motivating for me. I'm at seven and a half years and it's more about, you know, my my first born son is coming in October. I have a marriage of three and a half years, almost four.
Speaker 1 (00:44:04) - Those are the things that are probably a bit closer to home. And then my own development, my own relationship with God, like as the business has grown, as my family is growing, as I just go further in life, just that thing, that relationship has become the the plumb line it always was. But more and more every single day and realizing that, you know, my my freedom is so important for me to protect the most important relationship in my life. And that's my relationship with God. I'm curious what it is for you, Michael. Does it still look the same about 28 years later? Has have your motives changed over the years? And what is it that that it continues to inspire you? Because I kind of get the impression that actually you could call it a day. You said you're you're 65. We're about to turn 65. Doesn't sound like you have any intention to retire. But but I'm guessing there's a reason for that. What's kind of keeping you going at this point in the journey?
Speaker 2 (00:44:51) - Yeah, you know, you bring up a really good point and it's something that I recognize is probably a number one deterrent of guys from really getting well and getting in good recovery.
Speaker 2 (00:45:01) - And that's when they fail to adopt a vision for their life. We've used this term the Hero's Journey as a way to try and capture some energy and and kind of a roadmap. If you will, for people that follows a very commonly known, you know, plot line for just about every movie and great book and adventure that that we've ever, you know, participated in sitting there and watching movies, whether it's, you know, Star Wars or whatever, you know, there's the hero's journey. Right? And I think that every addict, if they don't see themselves in a bigger picture story as the is the hero of the story, the hero in the making, which means finding a mentor, which means leaving the comfort zone and getting uncomfortable and going on this big adventure, which which entails a lot of different twists and turns along the way. Then. Then I think lacking vision, they will they will tend to kind of wither away in the mechanics of recovery. So in my vision has changed. Much like you, my my first vision, the thing the first thing that motivated me to get well was as came when I was suicidal.
Speaker 2 (00:46:20) - And I started to think about what to write in a suicide note to my boys.
Speaker 1 (00:46:25) - Wow.
Speaker 2 (00:46:26) - And that's when I hit rock bottom. I hit rock bottom. Making the realization that they did nothing to deserve having to live with a story like that for the rest of their life, of their dad having committed suicide as a sex addict. That was my motivation. It wasn't to try to win back my my ex, who had since moved on and and was was dating another guy and stuff. I mean, it was really more they don't deserve this. I got to do this for my kids. Wow. And I and I was also scared. I mean, I was I was I realized that, hey, this could cost me my life. Over time, that motivation changed as I got healthier. And and I was kind of out of that threat zone, if you will, wasn't, you know, wasn't really even giving any second thought to ever taking my own life. Then I started to really focus on I just want to now be the best version of myself that I can be.
Speaker 2 (00:47:27) - And then eventually I think that kind of turned into, you know, what can I do to help some of these guys who were coming to me asking for help? I can't just pretend like I didn't hear that, you know, and just turn them down. And so, you know, my recovery kind of went full circle of, you know, again, this idea of I needed help, but then eventually I had helped to give. And I think when a guy gets into recovery, it's, you know, you're you're just looking at minimizing the consequences. Yeah. How can I not end up getting divorced from my wife? How can I not end up, you know, looking at porn till 2:00, 3:00 in the morning and masturbating? You know, it's like you're you're really kind of much like an addict focused on yourself. And. And that's okay, you know? But you. I think you still need a vision. Otherwise you run the risk of being that guy that keeps showing up to recovery groups 12, 15, 20 years later.
Speaker 2 (00:48:27) - And he's still you're still saying that you've had slips and you're still struggling, but someone convinced you that just showing up to group is the key and the goal is sobriety. And I think what we try to do at Bravehearts is to help expand people's vision and go, you know, and I asked my guys, anyone who comes to me for mentoring, I always asked him the same question. I said, I want you to imagine what your life could look like 3 to 5 years from now if you were living in sobriety. Let's say that right now you're wrapped around the actual you're struggling, you know, on a daily basis or whatever. But let's say you really are free from this. Yeah. What do you think your life could look like 3 to 5 years from now? That's where we start. And and it's amazing. Some guys really have a hard time being able to do that. You know, they can tell you what they've done in the past. They can tell you where they're at today, but they just don't feel like they have that hope.
Speaker 2 (00:49:20) - You know, and I think a part of it is no one's telling them that they can be free from this. A lot of people are out there saying, well, the best that you can hope for is to manage this, but you'll struggle with this the rest of your life. Well, you'll be tempted the rest of your life, but you don't have to live like a struggle. You can literally live in freedom. And and so that's the vision thing. And I would say over time, you know, the vision for us has changed in Bravehearts. But my vision, my personal vision for sobriety and recovery has never changed. In fact, not long ago I started going back to an essay group that meets over the phone. It's called Daily Sobriety Renewal was in there this morning doing my check in, and I do it every day because I've recognized, I've acknowledged and recognize that there's still some character defects in me that I that I didn't really deal with early on 20 years ago and that I need to I need to really shore those up.
Speaker 2 (00:50:18) - And so but I do that for the same reason that you do to make sure that, you know, I don't sabotage what God's doing in and through me in this ministry and the other people that are depending on us and all that. But my vision that's driving me is really the mentor. The idea of being able to create a whole new category of caregivers that can take the average layperson and turn them into someone like you, you know, or someone like Sean or someone like Helena or others who have this story and they can now leverage it for God's glory. That gets me really excited. That's going to keep me working until probably I just my last breath because I never I never tire from hearing of the stories and getting the emails from people that say, Hey, I've been working with such and such person that you guys trained as a mentor. It's saved our marriage, you know, turned around my turned around my life, you know, that kind of a deal and it's a multiplier. And I just get really excited about that.
Speaker 2 (00:51:17) - But every person going through recovery really needs to read that 12 step, you know, and really needs to buy into this idea that if you do the work, this isn't a luck thing, You know, if. You show up every day. If you do the work, if you if you make the right moves. And that's why I think that having a mentor, a coach like yourself, is so critically important. You know, lean on the people who have been there before, you know, so that when you come to a crossroads and you're thinking about, well, I'm wondering if I'm doing too much in recovery, I'm wondering if I'm doing whatever. You have someone who's been there before to be able to help you avoid, you know, some of the some of the mistakes that we made in the past or, you know, give you a more direct line to be able to get to that point in your journey where you move through these early stages of recovery from being hopeful and doing all the gutsy work of recovery.
Speaker 2 (00:52:09) - And now you're kind of what we call the brave, full and heroic stages where you're someone's hero. And even if it's just your family, it's not a just it's huge, you know, to be a hero in your son's life or your daughter's life or your, you know, your spouse's life because you're committed to this and you're committed to doing the work, that should be a vision that compels everyone. But God does want to take you further than that. He wants to give you a redemptive story. He wants to enable you to comfort others the way that he's comforted you in whatever way that looks. And then the fun part of this where we get into the digital marketing thing is when you niche that down, then it gets really cool. Then it's like I have a unique set of skills that no one else has because I have a unique story. Yeah. And because of that uniqueness of my story, just like the guy from prison, right? It's like, wow, I can take the thing that would have crushed most people and now I have a particular set of skills to be able to help any guy who's facing five years go into prison, you know, that doesn't know what he's walking into.
Speaker 2 (00:53:15) - I do, because I've been there. It's huge. It's a game changer.
Speaker 1 (00:53:18) - Oh, man, It's fantastic. Michael, for people who do want to explore more about what you're talking about, find out more about what you're up to, What's the best way for them to do that?
Speaker 2 (00:53:27) - Yeah, just go to our website. Bravehearts. Org. Been around for a long time and so it's like Bravehearts like the movie with an s and then.org and that'll link you to our training. And you know, the mentor training we do is called launcher Mentoring Ministry. I was sharing with you earlier one of the exciting things by the time that this interview drops will have gone evergreen with it, which normally we just launch the training like twice a year and really kind of move cohorts through. But the demand is really grown to the point where we need to have this available all the time. So anyone who's listening to this, who may be in a place where they've kind of crossed over that transom of now I'm able to I'm healthy enough and able to give other people, you know, help in addition to continuing to do my maintenance work, man, we could sure use you and you can go learn about it at Bravehearts for sign up for the training.
Speaker 2 (00:54:19) - We also have all kinds of other tools and resources. But that's the the thing we're kind of most jazzed about. But if you're struggling and you're listening to this and you're thinking, you know, you talked about daily disciplines earlier, what does that look like? We have some great on demand coursework that you can plug into. It's like 20 bucks a month, gives you the daily disciplines for every day, you know, grows you in the area of getting smarter about recovery, improving your recovery IQ, but also an opportunity to really intentionally connect with God. And we have hundreds of people that are going through that at any given time in groups associated with it. So yeah, we're just want to help folks on their journey.
Speaker 1 (00:54:55) - Yeah, for sure. We'll put links in the show notes to all that stuff in the meantime cheering you on. Michael, thank you so much for your time today.
Speaker 2 (00:55:03) - Well, thank you for your ministry, man. I'll tell you, it's really exciting to see younger guys like you come along and anything we can do in the future to help you and be sure and say hi to my friend Sean too.
Speaker 1 (00:55:13) - So yeah, I will for sure. Appreciate that. Thank you.
Speaker 2 (00:55:15) - All right, man. Bye Bye.
Speaker 1 (00:55:17) - Bye. All right. Well, hey, I told you, Michael is amazing. And you can really tell this guy seasoned a lot of knowledge, a lot to glean from. Go check out his stuff. bravehearts.org is the website or if you want some of the more training resources. Also Bravehearts University. There's lots of avenues there for you guys to get the help that you want, whether you're looking for recovery resources or if you yourself maybe are recovered or you're, you know, pretty close to that point and you want to start helping others. Michael is a fantastic resource and I think you guys would benefit a lot from his stuff. And look, if you're listening to us, maybe you've been listening to this this podcast rather for a while or you just heard some things on this interview that really piqued your interest and made you realize it's time to get free. It is time to be free of porn once and for all.
Speaker 1 (00:56:05) - It's time to get this out of your life. You've had enough. You're ready to finally commit to a process. Well, I'd love for you to check out what we have here. A program called Deep Clean. This is my signature program that basically infuses research and scripture into a comprehensive recovery solution. We have helped hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of men from around the world, different ages, different races, different stages of life. Different socioeconomic status is different careers and professions. But the one thing they all have in common is that they got hands on coaching. They got a system that was proven and they got all the support they needed along the way to get to the roots of their issues and make a full recovery. And we love for you to be that next person. So if that's something you want to check out, there is a link in the show notes for you to book a call with my team. That is how you kind of enter. We don't just let people sign up online. We actually vet people because we're trying to build something particular with our community and we want we want to make sure that you are of a certain caliber and that you're really going to actually blend in so that you get the best results and that we continue to build a community of world changing men.
Speaker 1 (00:57:11) - So if that's something you want to check out, the link is there in the show notes, once you book your time, by the way, we send you some videos and stuff that explain what we do so you're not going to come in blind. That all happens after you book, so just follow the link in the show notes. You'll see everything you need to see. You'll get everything you need to get, and then we can have that call and see if it makes sense for us to move forward. In the meantime, guys, thank you so much for listening. And if you know somebody else who maybe would benefit from the content, make sure you share it with them. Hey, could not do this without you. Appreciate you, man. Thanks for listening to the end. We'll talk soon. Bye bye. Hey, everybody, it's Sathiya again. Thanks for listening to Unleash the Man Within. I wanted to take a quick moment to let you know about a free e-book that I wrote for you called The Ultimate Guide to Porn Recovery.
Speaker 1 (00:57:57) - It provides a basic framework for the recovery process and a few of my top tips completely free of charge. You can get it now at WW recovery guide.com. That's w w w alternate recovery guide. Com. Now if you've been impacted by the podcast and you want to show some support in less than 60s, there are three ways you can do that. First, you can leave a rating or review on your podcast platform. This lets people like you know that the content here is valuable. Secondly, you can share this episode with someone in your life that might benefit from the content. If you're passionate about helping other people experience freedom and success in their lives. This is one of the easiest ways to do that. And lastly, you can subscribe. I personally only listen to the podcast that I subscribe to. If you're seeking daily encouragement, guidance and insight in your recovery journey, I highly recommend subscribing to Unleash the Man Within. Thanks for listening. I look forward to connecting with you very, very soon.
Speaker 3 (00:58:57) - The information, opinions and recommendations presented in this podcast by Sathia, Sam and his guests are for general information only and should not be considered medical, clinical or any other form of professional advice. Any reliance on the information provided is done at your own risk.